Disclaimer: I haven’t watched MTV since college.  In fact, I had to do a search on the cable menu just to find out if we had it.  MTV was always just background buzz for me, something that may have been on at the bar or in someone’s dorm room.  In fact, I don’t really remember anyone sitting in front of the brain drainer for hours in his or her parent’s basement just to watch MTV.  Chances are if they did, that’s probably where they are today.  I went for the real cerebral stuff, you know, Saturday Night Live or Cheers.  Okay, maybe Baywatch but only for the drama.

So it’s kind of amusing to note the hysteria surrounding MTV’s show “Skins”.  The Parents Television Council brands the show “the most dangerous program ever” for children.” I’m sure I’ve heard that refrain before about some “ground-breaking” or “edgy” series at some point in time.  It’s always the “edgy” shows you know.  Hollywood lives for “edgy”.  If they could, they’d give us edgy peanut butter commercials.  Someone is always pushing some boundary somewhere, pushing it right up against someone else’s tender sensibilities, right smack up against someone else’s first amendment rights.  Or, maybe up against someone’s parental rights?

Okay, so let me tell you what has me motivated this time.  The opinions and points of view around the press and the blogs are, as usual, quite dichotomous.  And trying to be so inflamed and passionate, their arguments don’t resonate with me at all.  In fact, most of them, from either end of the spectrum, got me quite piqued. (Yes, I used piqued…) I choose not to watch this crap, or have it played in my house, so I’m not on any “ban this or that” bandwagon.  Hey, I wouldn’t even have MTV if I weren’t forced to buy it just to get the History Channel or ESPN.  But I would like a little honesty in the debate about it.

First, one of the common arguments defending this type of digital effluent is the “parental responsibility” tactic, as in “know where your child is at all times, use the V-chip, bring them up right”, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam.  All that wonderful parenting advice from experts who read Dr. Spock and then apparently never procreated.  I’m doing quite well rearing my children, thank you very much.  If you’ve never had children, it may not have dawned on you that from the minute the cord is cut, they spend a lot of time thinking of creative ways to elude your grasp and gaze.  Adolescence comes, and guess what, they spend more time out of the house than in.  There’s no parental control that I know of for society at large and I can’t control the TV at Fred the neighbors house any more than I can control the Abercrombie and Fitch billboards or the Victoria’s Secret signs on the sides of the local buses. (I had to follow one for miles just to make sure I could get the number to complain.)  So let’s not be facetious here, kids are going to be able to find this crap if it’s out there, regardless of the type of parent anyone is.   Doubt me?  Just go ahead and block your kid’s Internet access or change their passwords.  See if you can do your online banking next week.  They’ve been brought up on this technology; they live it and breathe it.  And somewhere, in some neighborhood in a nice split-level ranch, someone has an older brother who’s real cool, and well you know the rest.  This stuff gets seen.

And of course the other argument is that it just “reflects society”, that this is what teens are doing today.  Oh great.  Let’s just throw our hands up and say it’s okay because, well, that’s what they’re doing now days.  Then we can lament and wring our hands about the next lost generation, alarming out-of-wedlock birth rates, and a wave of new addicts.   We can shake our heads disapprovingly, tsk-tsk under our breath and create another social program to deal with the ills which we as adults have perpetrated on our children.  We want to be our kids’ new BFF’s, want them to friend us on Facebook and call us “Chuck” and “Katie” instead of mom and dad.  We spent decades killing the image of Ward and June Cleaver for God’s sake; we don’t ever want to go back to that.  We tore down the American family and we can enjoy the results every Monday night at 10:00 pm, 9 central.

No, this doesn’t reflect society.  This reflects a small, sad, dysfunctional slice of the world.  We should sympathize with these children, not try to get others to emulate them.  What’s’ next, a serial on Bulimia or teen suicide?  And why as adults are we fascinated by this?  We exploit it, revel in it and make money off it.  I think Cathleen Falsani is close when she writes, “Reducing children to commodities — to be traded for advertising dollars, market share or worse, sexual entertainment for adults — is disgraceful. But she seems to forget; we’ve removed discipline and shame from society.  We’ve decided that all manner of “disgraceful” activities are mere expressions of someone’s rights or personal beliefs, that we must be tolerant, non-judgmental and celebrate diversity.   These are the children of parents who themselves never knew or never learned discipline.  Given free reign in their own early years, they have no idea how to help their children maintain their dignity, or recognize the lack thereof.  They shouldn’t have been allowed to raise gerbils for goodness sake.  Do they suffer any pangs of guilt when they see their own children reflected in these portrayals?

I refuse to believe that this is such a large segment of the younger generation that they should be celebrated in this way.  What about those kids working part time jobs to help out the family, while maintaining decent grades and respecting themselves, their parents and each other?  Where’s their story?  Not sexy enough for the creative minds at MTV?  I refuse to give up on these kids, even if Hollywood feels they’re insignificant enough to ignore.  Experts are touting all sorts of statistics to support the “it’s what they are doing today” mantra, but they tell a story of how easy it is for kids to get drugs, not how many actually do them.  Or even why.  And in the end, they get their drugs from some adult first.

So after providing them with drugs and teaching them that sex has no consequences, we get to make TV shows about them.

Hey, It’s what the “adults” are doing these days.

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