If you are a parent or child advocate, like it or not you should be aware of this program: MTV’s “Skins.”
I worked for a few years as a sexuality educator and advocate for adolescent pregnancy prevention initiatives. I find I am generally much more comfortable than most adults with the reality that teenagers are sexual people (well, actually, we all are from cradle to grave, but that’s another post). Where I have always found discomfort is in the lies that marketers tell society in general and kids in particular in order to make a buck.
The video clip linked above is from an interview done by Anderson Cooper with a former reality TV star on MTV and with a representative of the program’s writers and marketers. As when I did work directly with adolescents, I stick by my philosophy, if you want to know the truth about what’s going on with kids, listen to the kid before you listen to the adult.
The young woman in the interview is in fact no longer a teenager, but she has a perspective on the show that I believe trumps what anyone currently trying to make money off the program would put forth. I am interested in anyone else’s opinion about the possible value of this program. Truly, I like to think if I had a teenager in my family right now I would be bold enough to discuss the show with her. While I am generally grossed out by the ongoing exploitation of children for money on every level, I have a feeling this is not all without value.
Rather than bunch up in outrage, we could see this as an opportunity. When I watched the clips of the show, I had an unexpected feeling of flashback to my own teenage years. It was not so much the specific situations as the feeling that now, as an adult, I was getting a look at a private world that I vividly remember wanting to keep under wraps from grown ups when I was that age.
Maybe as a parent thanks are in order. Kids, MTV is not your friend, but it might be mom’s. I think you were just busted. Now turn off the TV, come over here and give me a hug.