Why I am Not Afraid Of MTV
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.