MTV’s new series Skins is, according to creator Bryan Elsley, “a very simple and in fact rather old-fashioned television series about the lives and loves of teenagers, how they get through high school, how they deal with their friends, and also how they circumnavigate some of the complications of sex, relationships, educations, parents, drugs and alcohol.”
Sounds positively wholesome, doesn’t it? Even helpful. But as Una LaMarche comments in the New York Observer, the credits at the beginning of Skins “flash footage of the cast making out, smoking joints, wiping tears and walking in angsty American Apparel formation.” So much for wholesome and helpful.
The characters on Skins, as LaMarshe describes them, include Tony, the most popular guy in school who is “voyeuristic” and “lives like a lascivious Ferris Bueller.” Michelle, “Tony’s equally [sexually active] girlfriend”; Chris, “a loudmouth party animal.” Then ther’es Tea, “the gorgeous gay cheerleader who nonetheless has [relations] with Tony.”
And make no mistake, these are teens. While MTV flashes a “TV-MA” rating to indicate that viewers should be at least seventeen years-old, the actors are as young as fifteen. The nudity in the show has led some to argue that Skins violates child pornography laws.
While Skins is only a couple of weeks old, many of the original sponsors have already pulled out. These include L’Oreal, General Motors, Subway, Wrigley, and Taco Bell. Good! On the other hand, according to one source, LifeStyle condoms is very interested in sponsoring Skins. And why not? The show seems designed to increase their sales. Now make sure your kids are not watching this.
It’s good to see that some young people are catching on to the dangers. In an insightful article for the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech senior Brooke Leonard comments, “What I find most irksome about [Skins] is simply how far removed from reality the premise and the character depictions truly are.”
While admitting the drugs and sex are part of the high school experience, she writes that “to suggest that those experiences comprise the majority of high school students’ lives is not just irresponsible: It isn’t true.” She concludes her article by asking, “Have the American people not hit their limit for useless drivel on television?”
But it’s not about the American people, it’s about MTV and the media elites who seem to think that what young people need most is more sex, drugs, and alcohol. These people hold a fundamentally different worldview from the one shared by most Americans. And they wield the power of television to proselytize among the young.
I’m all for efforts to get Skins off the air. But taking offensive shows off TV is just part of the strategy we need. The best way to combat bad worldviews is with a good worldview. And parents, teachers, and youth ministers need to step up to the challenge of teaching a Christian worldview to kids; one that challenges the premise that humans—especially teenagers—are nothing but a bundle of anguished passions that must be satisfied regardless of the cost. There’s something to be said about the joy of living a life committed to decency, respect for other humans, and serving a higher purpose.