Why I am Not Afraid Of MTV

January 23, 2011 at 13:39 6 comments

This Monday a call to action by the “Momfia” will be fulfilled as protesting parents around the internet post their outrage over MTV’s newest show ‘Skins’.

It seems that MTV has had the audacity to produce a television show that depicts teenagers acting like *gasp* teenagers. The kind of out of control & over the top teenagers who experiment, get into trouble and make poor decisions; the kind who don’t suddenly realize the error of their ways and do the right thing after learning their lesson in under 40 minutes. Kind of like, y’know, real teenagers.

“This isn’t a reality show” Says ‘Skins’ Writer Matt Pelfry. “But it’s easily one of the most realistic things you’ll see on TV”

The show has been criticized for depicting teens engaging in sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and other less than stellar behaviors. Apparently seeing teens on TV smoke dope and have sex, will make teens in real life smoke dope and have sex.

That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard.

You want to know something? I remember being a teenager. At the age of 24 it’s not really all that far behind me.

I skipped my classes, I smoked cigarettes on school property, and I snuck into bars and pulled beer and cigarettes for my friends with my fake ID. I sold diet pills out of my back pack for a few months (no one ever suspects the fat girl) and I smoked a lot of dope. When I wasn’t doing that, I was babysitting for my best friend while she worked her teen years away at a doughnut shop to buy diapers.

And you know what? I did all of that without ever watching a single second of MTV.

I did these things because I was a teenager; for the same reasons that every teenager in the history of the world has rebelled in some way shape or form. Because I was an unhappy and frustrated hormonal mess of an individual who felt angry and conflicted at being expected to act like a responsible adult while still being treated like a child.

I am going to tap into that quintessential teenaged rage to give all you parents pounding out your condemnation on your keyboards a message from your children.

Give your kids the benefit of the doubt. I bet they resent the hell out of the fact that you think they have no mind of their own and for implying that they’re too stupid to know the difference between an MTV show and actual reality.

Stop censoring media that is uncomfortable for you because in doing so you censor the thoughts and feelings that your teenager may want to share with you in meaningful exchanges that could help you protect your child from actual harm.

But mostly chill the fuck out.

Take a moment to actually watch some of this show that has a stick so far up your butt (I know the “Momfia” thinks you should protest without ever watching it, but if you’re going to waste your time & energy you may as well know the subject matter). The accusations that the show glamorizes sex, drugs, and rock & roll behavior is a little contrived if you ask me.

In the sneak peeks and previews I have viewed (Full episodes are not yet available in Canada) MTV does nothing to pull punches about the very real dangers and consequences of risky behaviour, like drug overdose and getting yourself trapped in scary and dangerous situations. From what I can tell it depicts quite an honest version of what peer pressure looks like, and with a bit of added drama it deals with many of the issues that many teens face and struggle with on a daily basis.

It is quite clear to me that MTV has developed and produced this show because the subject matter is so overwhelmingly relevant to their target audience. Not because they are aiming to create a teen culture of impulsive and risky behavior, but because that culture already exists. Pushing that culture even more underground by calling for censorship of shows like Skins does no one any favors. In fact, it only reinforces to your teen that they should be ashamed and secretive about their social lives and activities.

I wouldn’t be afraid to let my child watch shows like ‘Skins’ as a teenager. While I would question his taste (don’t get me wrong, the show looks like absolute trash TV) I would have enough respect for my child to let him make his own choices. And even if they weren’t the choices I would make for him, I’d make sure I was up front and honest about those choices and their possible consequences.

All I can do as a parent is my best to raise a smart and confident person. One who trusts his own judgment (without relying on ME to judge what is or is not appropriate for HIM) and is brave enough to walk his own path despite what his peers are doing, or what pressures he may be feeling from the media, his teachers or his parents.

I can only hope that when we get there, I still have enough faith and confidence in my own abilities as a parent to remain unafraid of MTV or the teen culture of the time. If WHEN my teen does make mistakes, I hope to have the presence of mind and the courage to assign responsibility where responsibility is due. Whether it be a bone headed, yet totally normal and understandable teenaged decision of my son’s, or an environment or situation of my own parental making, I know that it WON’T be the fault of MTV.



Entry filed under: family, motherhood, MTV, Parenting, Teens.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. abigailroad  |  January 23, 2011 at 14:19

    Well said! I’m not a parent, but I have to say, that if I did have a teenager, I’d rather they be watching MTV shows like Teen Mom or Skins, than My Super Sweet 16 or The Hills.

    Television, music and movies have been the blame for teenagers behavior since the dawn of time. The parents that blame these mediums for their teenagers behavior, have either never bothered to connect with their kid, or forget what it was like to be a kid. Being a teen sucks. Cut them some slack. And don’t assume they are too stupid to make smart choices.

    I recently read an article by Socrates, of all people, bemoaning the fact that teenage girls and boys don’t have any respect for their elders, and the way they dress and act is absurd. Nothing has changed since Socrates’ time, and nothing will change, ever. We are who we are, MTV or no MTV.

  • 2. Malcolm+  |  January 24, 2011 at 00:55

    Absolutely brilliant – although I learned a couple of things here that I may rather wish I hadn’t known.

    I wonder what parents blamed adolescent rebellion on before TV.

  • 3. Kevin Hastings  |  January 24, 2011 at 09:40

    I am very thankful that Malcolm shared this on facebook. I have not heard of momfia or skins before this. Mostly because I don’t now nor have I ever really let anyone else tell me what to think, feel, or do. Of course I am talking about post teen years, for doing those years most of my poor decisions were based on what my peers were doing. I did, however, eventually wake up to the fact that most of those peers weren’t friends and probably shouldn’t be anyone I should hang out with or emulate.

    I agree wholeheartedly that my decisions were not inspired by nor committed to because of music, movies, or tv shows. If I took the time to show my parents a show or song that they probably wouldn’t like it was because it was saying something I felt I couldn’t. Sometimes that would open a path to a healthy dialogue with my parents, sometimes it would result in my parents being angry and disgusted that I could listen or watch such garbage.

    Your post is very insightful and I hope I can keep such words of wisdom in mind when my son gets to the often trying and always awkward teen years. Thanks.

  • 4. Teri  |  January 24, 2011 at 10:55

    As a teen I drank alcohol once! I NEVER did drugs. (Still haven’t) I didn’t have sex until I was an adult. Do you know why? Because my parents taught me that it wasn’t ok. It wasn’t acceptable just because that was what everyone else was doing. I didn’t skip school either. Doing any of those things was just cause for punishment. My kids are learning the same things. It is possible to raise teens to act appropriately. To think otherwise is to be deluded or at the very least, too lazy to think about how to do it the right way.

    Some teens will rebel – not all will. If you begin at an early age teaching them right from wrong, they will respect that, and avoid doing wrong. I was not a “goody-two-shoes” – I had my fun – but it was morally acceptable fun. Don’t let teens have excuses for unacceptable behavior, or let them see that such behavior is “normal” and you increase your chances of them staying the sweet people they are when they are younger.

  • 5. pocketbuddha  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:07

    @abigailroad – Socrates!? really!? that’s awesome!

    @malcolm- Yeah I figured you wouldn’t be happy with that, but we’ll just leave it alone shall we?

    @KevinHastings – Thank you. I have a few years before dealing with those teen years myself. But I feel pretty confident that we’ll make it through not totally and completely ruined.

    @ Teri –

    I agree that not every teen is going to act out the same way I did. Some act out in other more productive ways, some get into even more trouble than I did.

    It is deluded to think that you can raise a child who will never make mistakes just because you teach them your version of right and wrong.

    That is not to say that I won’t teach my child my values. (Just as my parents taught me, but thanks for insinuating other wise) but I do think it’s natural for teenagers to push the boundaries of right and wrong/acceptable and not acceptable.

    In fact I think it’s a GOOD thing that our kids don’t just take our word for it on those matters. Could you imagine our world if no youth ever questioned the values of their parents?

    My son is an individual. He is human, and so am I. I will make mistakes, he will make mistakes. And whether those mistakes are as extreme as under-age sex and drugs, or skipping and flunking classes, or as tame as cursing or listening to music I hate, or a cleaning strike that results in a biohazard warning on his bed room door, I don’t think it is my job to prevent those mistakes (as much as I’d like to). Making mistakes is one of the ways we learn valuable lessons. It is my job to keep him safe, something that barring him from watching a TV show won’t do.

    I believe that keeping him safe will be better accomplished by creating a supportive, flexible, nonjudgmental and honest environment for him at home. And laying a good foundation of trust and confidence from which to make good decisions. So that maybe if he does have sex he’ll do it safely, and if he does experiment with drugs he has someplace to turn if something goes wrong, and a no questions asked safe ride home when he needs one. If you think that creating this kind of relationship and environment is lazy, you are dead wrong. It takes time, patience, faith, empathy, respect, and even more patience.

  • 6. Janine  |  April 16, 2011 at 13:25

    Gonna follow you after this post! I am only 24 as well and I can definitely remember being a teen very clearly as it was less than 10 years ago! As I read a lot of parenting/mom blogs, I frequently find myself relating to the kids as much as the mothers. It makes me glad that I chose to start my family earlier than many.

    I especially love where you say, “In fact I think it’s a GOOD thing that our kids don’t just take our word for it on those matters. Could you imagine our world if no youth ever questioned the values of their parents?” I was considered a brat and a bad influence by some of my friends’ parents simply because I questioned the things we were told. Not that I went out of my way to break rules, but even as a child I was allowed to question why we did things the way we did. I don’t want my child to follow anyone blindly, and that includes his parents!

    If TV influenced teen behavior that much, I would play sports and love Jesus – My guilty pleasure growing up was watching 7th Heaven! It just doesn’t work like that and as you said, the culture dictates the TV and not the other way around.

    Also worth noting that teens who are kept too sheltered are always the ones who go WILD when they are older and at that point there is trouble because they are adults without the experience to make good choices.


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