Sunday, January 23, 2011

MTV’s Naked Calculation Gone Bad

What if one day you went to work and there was a meeting to discuss whether the project you were working on crossed the line into child pornography? You’d probably think you had ended up in the wrong room.

And you’d be right.

Last week, my colleague Brian Stelter reported that on Tuesday, the day after the pilot episode of “Skins” was shown on MTV, executives at the cable channel were frantically meeting to discuss whether the salacious teenage drama starring actors as young as 15 might violate federal child pornography statutes.

Senior executives are now considering additional editing for coming episodes, but that’s a little like trying to lock the door after a naked 17-year-old has already busted out and gone running down the street, which is precisely what one of the characters does in Episode 3 — with a pill-enhanced erection, no less.

No one at MTV, which is owned by Viacom, set out to make child pornography, but make no mistake: the series is meant to provoke. “Skins” — a title that derives from the rolling papers that are used to make the blunts that go with the vodka that washes down the pills that accompany the hookups — is mostly about explicitly teenage characters doing explicit things. In a cluttered programming era, controversy is oxygen, so MTV was undoubtedly happy with the tsk-tsking the show incited in advance.

But objectifying teenage pathology, along with teenage bodies, is a complicated business — and the business that MTV is in.

I’ve watched the first three episodes of “Skins,” and I have no idea if the show is “sufficiently sexually suggestive,” as the law reads, to run afoul of the authorities. What “Skins” does clearly suggest is that MTV and its corporate parent erred when they decided that conjuring a show out of piles of semi-nude teenagers would be lucrative, harmless fun.

“Skins” has a TV-MA rating and MTV has suggested in press releases that the show is “specifically designed to be viewed by adults.” That’s a preposterous position. “Skins” is a show meant to offend adults and create did-you-see chatter among young people.
Read the rest here.

These people are scum.

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