Bozell Column: MTV's Sordid 'Skins'
The cultural Left would like you to think that children should be free to experiment persistently in the Laboratory of Life without soul-stifling rules. They have limits to libertine behavior, to be sure. No high school bake sales (encourages obesity), no bottled water (destroys the environment), and absolutely no uncivil bullying of people who are different than you (unless they belong to the Tea Party, in which case you can blame them for random shootings.)
Now those secular progressives at MTV have opened a new front. They feel one should enjoy a childhood stuffed with sex, drugs, and alcoholism. That would be the message of their new teen drama “Skins.” Adapted from a British series and filmed in Canada, MTV boasts that the actors are actually under 18 – in another intepretation, we call them “children” – and that the show's writers are barely out of high school, so its libertine escapades are authentic, “the real secret lives” of teenagers.
MTV promotes itself as “the world’s premier youth entertainment brand” and “the cultural home of the millennial generation.” It’s so proud of this show's sleaze that they're even rating it TV-MA (for mature audiences only). It's not a warning. It's an invitation.
The show is so sleazy that the New York Times reported Viacom is now pondering whether the upcoming third episode will have to have teen actor nudity edited out so MTV won’t break child pornography laws.
This show is so debauched that even the TV critics are panning it. Washington Post critic Hank Stuever announced he would usually dismiss the warnings of the Parents Television Council and other supposedly uptight hall monitors of TV, but: “By and large, 'Skins' is a repugnant, irredeemably nihilistic viewing experience for grownups -- the very thing for which 'off' buttons are made,” even if for actual teenagers it “might be something of a vicarious thrill.” He reluctantly concluded that “'Skins' is so determined to relate to hardened kids -- without sermon, theme or context -- that it accidentally discovers a new frontier in phoniness and filth.”
The PTC has called on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to investigate Viacom and compel Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate this show for possible violations of laws against child pornography and exploitation.
The show centers on a ringmaster of sleaze named Tony. In the first episode, he’s busily arranging for his friend Stanley to lose his virginity (that horrid yoke) before he turns 17. He tries to persuade several high-school girls to be Stanley's “candy mountain,” then settles on a girl named Karen, because she’ll do anything if you provide drugs, or “a busload of bud,” as Tony promises. How cynical is Tony? He explains his plot to Stanley thusly: "So we go to a party and get some girl racopiously spliffed up, in a confused state, and she comes to believe, however momentarily of course, that you're attractive, and...she bangs your brains out."
Tony is having trouble getting others interested in confirming the success of his plans for Stanley because there is a “big gay lezzerama” planned. One male friend (a Muslim that Tony pulls out of morning prayer at the mosque) boasts it will be “Like live porn, man. And Chris said we can probably convert them, it'll be like girl on girl on dudes!"
The episode ends with Stanley still a virgin, since Katie overdoses on pills before Stanley takes advantage of her. Tony says to him, “That's embarrassing,” and Stanley agrees.
They should just call the show “High School Orgy.” That's at least the tone of the talk on this barbarity. But kids will be kids, as MTV knows so well. “Skins” debuted with an audience of 3.2 million, and one million viewers aged 12 to 17. They decided to watch because of an intense marketing campaign from MTV that directly targeted this age group. The creator of the show even bragged in an interview that he would deliver kids to advertisers.
The advertisers came in droves, especially the movie promoters. Some ads matched the show's tone perfectly, like the new movie “No Strings Attached,” which features Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman promising to use each other for sex – until someone has an ounce of actual love for the other one. An ad for the ultraviolent video game “Dead Space 2” features mothers (or grandmothers?) tut-tutting the shooter game as the announcer promises, “It's revolting, it's violent, it's everything you love in a game. Your mom will hate it.” That spot ran twice.
There was also an ad for Taco Bell to support this junk, and one for Subway. Their new slogan should be “Eat fresh, but watch poison.” It perfectly matches the new rules of the cultural Left. Taco Bell has pulled out now – but only to advertise on other MTV garbage.