Why MTV Should Shed the Public Service Spin on ‘Skins’

MTV, you’ve moved into a field that you have no business in: trying to educate this country’s youth by what seems to be reverse psychology

If you read my last post of 2010, I wasn't intending to be prophetic, but it also didn't take a crystal ball to see that actor Charlie Sheen was spiraling out of control, or that Tiger Woods would continue to struggle with his game, or that all we've heard from Lindsay Lohan since she left rehab has been … nothing.

What most of us didn't see coming was the intense focus on the exploitation of teen drama in the first month of 2011. 

I'm not referring to the usual suspects like Miley Cyrus, who once again was (dis)honored with an award for "The Worst Celeb Influence" by Just So You know.com (beating out Lindsay Lohan). 

I'm talking about the new cast of underage teenage actors in MTV's controversial TV show "Skins."

Everyone in the entertainment industry is likely aware of the waves this show made in the blogosphere and in homes across America.

The protests rippled across the media, prompting companies like L'Oreal, Taco Bell, Subway, H&R Block, Wrigley and General Motors to pull their ads from airing during this scandalous program — in essence, acknowledging there is something amiss with this show.

Once again, it was The Parents Television Council spearheading the move to disseminate information to households about the potentially harmful material this show depicts as representative of America's teenage set.

Among the counter-claims made by MTV to defend its program, creator Bryan Elsley and his son tried to defend their show by putting forth the argument that presumably airing crude shows like these — where the reality of our country's youth is purportedly shown in a frank manner — could be akin to  public health programming.

"'Skins' is actually a very serious attempt to get to the root of young people's lives," Elsley wrote.

"It deals with relationships, parents, death, illness, mental health issues, the consequences of drug use and sexual activity," he added. "It is just that these are characterized from the point of view of many young people who write the show and has a very straightforward approach to their experiences;  it tries to tell the truth. Sometimes that truth can be a little painful to adults and parents."

I was taken aback by this declaration, since most of us lay people not associated with Hollywood — nor with those in charge of producing and green-lighting these programs — were not made aware that clinical psychologists or any other medical professionals were involved in analyzing and supporting the making of a show.

This is a program that portrays youngsters ages 15 to 19 having sex, taking Viagra and walking around visibly aroused, or vandalizing property (like driving a drug-laden SUV   jokingly into a lake) without suffering any apparent consequences.

(I don't mean to be insensitive, but there is a reason why people who jump off  bridges or commit suicide are not supposed to be given much media attention: to avoid potential copy cats.)

Please, give us all a break this year.

You could sink even lower in your choice of programming by having "Jersey Shore" — an already-sleazy show being exported to Italy as representative of American culture —  lead into "Skins," which is clearly intended for an adolescent audience (in spite of claims that it's directed at adults because of the TV-MA rating).

Or you could you focus on another topic or age group.

If diversification is the answer to surviving potential business failures, MTV, you may have diversified into a field that you probably have no business in: trying to educate this country's youth by what seems to be reverse psychology.

MTV, why do you have to dial up the raunchiness?

It would be refreshing to have more artists on this cable channel display their musical talents and showcase their paths to success or struggles getting there so budding musicians, singers and dancers get some much needed inspiration.  

I vaguely recall a cable channel created specifically to support the music industry and artists of all ilk and genres.  

Could we have our music television back?