Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

MTV Skins: Child Pornography?

MTV’s recently released Skins drama has drawn the ire of the Parent Television Council. In this Action Alert,  the PTC calls for advertisers, such as Taco Bell, to drop the program. As of today the PTC website stated that H&R Block, Wrigley, General Motors, and Taco Bell have all decided they will no longer be sponsoring the program. Subway is still on board as a sponsor at this point. The PTC also called on the federal government to investigate whether the program violates federal anti-child pornography laws. Cast members as young as 15 are depicted in sexual scenes as well as consuming drugs and alcohol. In a statement to AdWeekly, the creator of the show claimed “What Skins delivers (to advertisers) is kids.” A cast member, when questioned about the content of the show, claimed that it just depicts what happens in the lives of most kids, but at a greater rate in order to up the entertainment quotient. So, it’s entertaining to watch kids as young as 15 become involved in sexual exploitation and substance abuse? This is what entertainment has come to?

You know who the target audience is for this show, as depicted by MTV’s own press release? Kids down to 12 years old. You read that right, 12 year olds who are in 6th or 7th grade are being targeted as consumers of this filth.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, children of this age are figuring out who they are. They don’t need to see this type of sexualized, dependent behavior glamorized. Of course there are a few adolescents, mostly older ones, who make some of these same choices. But the majority of kids aren’t doing that. This representation of a lifestyle that is clearly unhealthy as exciting and glamorous and aimed at kids this young is just wrong.

It has become very clear to me as I’ve been researching how media impacts children that MANY media makers feel absolutely no responsibility to their target audiences, even when they are children. If it makes them and their sponsors money, then they’re happy. Everyone out there is fair game. So, it’s the responsibility of caring adults and adolescents everywhere to stand up when they see things that aren’t right. I’d like to call you to do that now. If you don’t want this trash on TV targeting children, then say so. You can go to the PTC Action Alert here and send a message to the sponsors of this show and tell them what you think of it.

In order to transform the world around us, we must be willing to stand up to wrong. I urge every reader to get involved in sharing your thoughts with media makers. Perhaps, if we are loud enough, our voices will start to be heard. Perhaps, the more we are heard, the more that sponsors and media makers will begin to see that they can also achieve a profit with quality media that doesn’t exploit children. I say it’s worth trying.

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