Thingish Things

Is This Okay to You?

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jan• 22•11

I don’t know when I became one of those people – a starchy old parent alarmed by what’s on television today.  But I think I have.

Or maybe I’m fine and the problem is with television executives who have pushed  the envelope so far that a consummately hip and open-minded guy like me is forced to cry uncle.

I concede it’s probably the former – I did just use the word consummately after all – but c’mon.

The new MTV British-import “Skins” seems completely out of bounds.  It’s a sex- and drug-filled television series targeting American teenagers – and pedophiles it seems – involving an actress, in starkly sexual situations, who is just 15.

The show is causing such controversy that MTV executives reportedly have met to discuss whether they might face criminal charges from breaking pornography laws in the show. Taco Bell, the show’s sponsor, did a quick Macarena out the door as soon as blowback over “Skins” intensified, so the program is now without a sponsor.

But MTV is standing by the show.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to watch “Skins” when I was 15 – I would have tunneled under my neighborhood to get to a house that had it on – but that didn’t make it appropriate for me. I would do anything when I was 15.  And, like all 15-year-olds — perhaps more than most even — I needed guidance.

I first became of aware of “Skins” a couple of weeks ago on the #6 train in Manhattan. I was travelling downtown with three young women from my office. We were hanging onto the overhead railing and directly facing a panel advertisement for the show, which basically looked like the image above.

I’m a New Yorker, a jaded New Yorker, but the ad immediately struck me as wrong. So much so that I asked the women with me, all in their early 20’s, whether they considered it inappropriate, too.  They grudgingly said they did – and then called me “grandpa.” Nice.

If MTV keeps the show on, it probably will be a huge hit.  With sex and drugs you really can’t miss. “Skins” will get a new sponsor and make a hundred-jillion dollars.  And MTV will have, as former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously put it, “defined deviancy down” in America yet again.

It’s not me, right?

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  1. Karol says:

    So funny! My husband was *outraged* about this show as soon as he saw the previews! And we’re not fuddy-duddies either.

  2. I never thought you were! But are you sure?

  3. Charmian says:

    When I was in my early 20’s and I met you- in all your glory-
    I wouldn’t have called you Grandpa. Papi? Maybe…

    Re: the show, these young women are not old enough to consent. And from the angle of sexism, I know you’re going to see a lot more female skin than male.

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