There’s a big controversy right now over the new MTV series Skins. I have an antenna, so I don’t receive MTV and so have never seen the show. What I do know, though, is what the media is reporting about the controversy. It’s a show about teens, all under 18, who are drinking, doing drugs, and having sex. The show airs with a warning that content is not suitable for young viewers, as though that will stop young people from watching.
While there are a lot of people who feel that the show is unsuitable, there are a large number of people who say that there’s nothing wrong with the show. After all, a TV show can’t affect the behavior of teens. They’re going to do these things anyway. I politely disagree.
First, if TV images don’t affect behavior why do companies spend millions every year to advertise on TV?
Second, while these things have probably passed through the minds of most young people, that’s a far cry from receiving tacit approval for following through with the thoughts. Shows like these make it seem like everyone’s already doing the things they’re thinking about. It makes these behaviors look popular. And, there are few lures more effective than possible popularity.
So, what does it matter that this show is airing. Well, it could matter a lot in the lives of the young people exposed to it.