Taco Bell Pulls Ads From MTV's 'Skins' Amid Call for Congressional, Justice Inquiries

Photo: MTVs Skins: Has New Show Gone Too Far? Family Therapist Concerned About Shows Depiction of Teen Sex, Drug Use
Share
Copy

MTV's new hit show "Skins" is getting tons of attention for its vivid depiction of teen sex and drug use. The show premiered Monday night before three million viewers.

But now it's getting a heavy dose of criticism, with complaints that MTV has gone too far.

"It's a show about teenagers and it's created for teenagers and I think it goes pretty far," family therapist Terry Real said on "Good Morning America."

"I think you have to raise kids to be what I call media literate and sexually literate. It's [MTV'S "Skins"] kind of like peer pressure on steroids," Real added.

MTV issued a written statement, saying the network has taken all of the necessary steps to ensure they are not breaking any rules.

"We are confident that the episodes of 'Skins' will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers. We also have taken numerous steps to alert viewers to the strong subject matter so that they can choose for themselves whether it is appropriate."

Although MTV defends the legality of the controversial show, TV Guide business editor Stephen Battaglio believes the network may back off if sponsors back away.

"There have been reports that MTV is going to tone the show down," he said. "If there's any pressure that MTV is going to bow to, it would be to advertisers."

That pressure is already beginning to mount. At least one advertiser, Taco Bell, announced it is pulling its commercials from future shows.

Taco Bell is not the only organization up in arms about the new show. The Parents Television Council called on the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary committees and the Department of Justice to open investigations about what the PTC alleges is child pornography on "Skins" involving actors as young as 15.

In addition to the claims of pornography claims, PTC chairman Tim Winter said in a letter to the committee chairs that the group also wants an investigation into allegations of excessive references to drugs and alcohol on the program. The PTC has 1.3 million members.

Real, the family therapist, said MTV made a big deal about airing the show late, at 10 p.m., but he thinks most teens are still watching. He is concerned that some teenagers believe this show is depicting reality.

"I think that it is terribly important that we let our kids know that this is in fact not the norm," he said.

Real has different concerns for boys than girls who are watching "Skins."

"The concern for the boys is that the idea here is very clearly that even the young boys 14, 15, 16 are up for sex anywhere, anytime with anyone," Real said. "I think that's a lot of pressure for our sons to have to deal with."

He believes the pressure facing teenage boys is unrealistic, but he is more concerned with the obstacles facing young girls.

"The girls concern me even more because if you look at the kind of sexuality that's portrayed its often in fact not mutual, it's about girls feeling they need to service boys in order to keep them," Real said. "I think this a direct, in some ways, backlash to the empowerment of girls. I think we need to stand up to it and have our daughters stand up to it and do what they feel comfortable with."

Real is not the only person concerned about this new show. Some critics even believe that MTV might be breaking the law by airing "Skins" every week.

Among the concerns are the ages of some of the actors. Several "Skins" cast members are as young as 15 years old. Their roles in upcoming episodes, which include nudity, have prompted some to wonder whether MTV is doing a delicate dance around child pornography issues.

"The bar keeps getting higher for what gets provocative on televisions," said TV Guide's Battaglio. "This time they decided to take a chance on it."

While the controversy surrounding "Skins" may be new, scandals surrounding dramas written and targeted for teens is not. "Skins" joins a growing list of television shows in recent years that have gotten teens talking - and parents worried.

Just last year, "Gossip Girl," the CW series about Manhattan teens, caused a scandal when three of its characters took part in three-way sex.

But some high school students say they prefer the kind of drama that's portrayed on "Skins." They say it's true-to-life whether parents like it or not.

"That's just really how life is except not to their extremes," one teen told ABC News.

"You can't say I don't want them to watch this because then they'll do it. She might already be doing that. You can't say it's all television," another teen added.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...