Showing too much ‘Skins’

February 9, 2011 — by Megan Benzing and Olivia Chock
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"Skins" on MTV

“It’s embarrassing,” said Tony.

“It’s totally normal for a kid of 16 not to have had sex—” replied Stanley.

“It’s embarrassing, Stan.”

There has been a plethora of media response about the recent debut of MTV show “Skins.” It has been deemed by most critics to be a far too explicit show that could have a negative influence on impressionable teenage viewers. In addition, there are claims that the show borders on child pornography.

The premise of the first episode was a good indication of the nature of “Skins,” as it featured one of the characters, a junior named Stan, on a mission to lose his virginity with the help of his friends. When the plan goes astray, Stan’s friends tell him he’s an embarrassment for not getting “the job done” instead of supporting his decision to wait for the right girl.

Later on in this episode, another character passes out from an overdose of pills after a wild house party. However, on the way to the hospital, she wakes up and laughs about her near-death experience.

These are just a few examples in the pilot episode that negatively influence teens by instilling an image in their minds that doing drugs and partying on a school night is “fun” and “cool.” Teens could easily be persuaded to assume this kind of behavior without understanding the consequences.

Teenagers supporting the show say “Skins” illustrates the reality of teenage lives, but to a slightly more extreme level. A majority of teenagers, at least those who attend Saratoga, have never even heard of the reckless, uncontrollable and irresponsible lifestyles so blithely displayed in “Skins.”

However, “Skins” does depict reality in other less fortunate areas, which is the reason for MTV’s decision to air this vulgar show. According to pregnantteenhelp.org, 750,000 teens get pregnant every year in the United States. MTV is raising awareness for existing environments, but is going about it in the wrong way. Though they are reflecting reality, they should make an effort to show the grim reality of some promiscuity and drug usage.

Teens may think the behavior displayed by characters on “Skins” is normal and therefore might feel tempted to follow the show’s lead. In a way, this television show pressures teens indirectly by advertising the use of illegal substances to make teens feel like they’re missing out, when in reality, there is nothing positive to be gained from following such a path.

In sheltered communities such as our own, teens who watch this vulgar show may, if stressed out about schoolwork, try the drugs displayed on “Skins” simply because it looks like a good way to enjoy oneself and relax. In reality, drinking and taking drugs are temporary remedies that, more often than not, result in dangerous addictions and lifestyles. Teens risk getting caught by authorities and injuring themselves or others while intoxicated or high.

Other television shows, such as “90210” and “Gossip Girl,” which, not that also display graphic usage of drugs and alcohol, send the correct message to their audience, a message that not only cautions against drugs and alcohol but also promotes abstinence from both substances. “Skins”, however, advertises the use of these substances as normal teenage behavior. If “Skins” continues to air, its producers need to consider the impact the show has on the nation’s youth.

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