On January 18, MTV premiered “Skins,” an egregiously semi-pornographic television show featuring underage kids engaging in drug deals, sex, and sex talk of every sort, while consistently outsmarting their enraged and clueless parents. The reaction on the right has been predictable: Parents Television Council led the charge for advertisers to pull their dollars from “Skins,” and has thus far succeeded with General Motors, Taco Bell, and Wrigley, among others.
Equally predictable was the reaction from the Hollywood left, which deployed the usual responses from its dog-eared culture war playbook.
First, the Hollywood contingent claimed that “Skins” merely reflects reality, and that the conservative reaction merely demonstrates ignorance of how reality is changing. As MTV explained, “Skins is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way.” Liberal columnists likewise celebrated the show’s purported “realism.” Sofia Black-D’Elia, 18, who stars as a lesbian cheerleader, stated, “It’s what teens are doing.”
Of course, promiscuous sex and drugs are not what most American teens are doing. Despite Hollywood’s best effort, most teenagers remain too awkward, gawky, shy, or (yes) principled to indulge in this kind of behavior. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2006-2008, only 42 percent of never-married females and 43 percent of males aged 15-19 have had sex. Even those who have don’t do it regularly. Just 12 percent of females and 10 percent of males had had sex four or more times in the month before the interview.