Fox's "The O.C." won four awards, including "Choice Drama" and best actor and actress in a drama, another "family hour" show at 8 p.m. that specializes in mature themes. A few months ago, an episode featured an out-of-control teen party, with girls in tiny bikinis shown in clinches with boys, dirty dancing with them while the camera zeroed in on their gyrating buttocks. Other party highlights included heavy drinking from beer kegs and teenagers snorting cocaine off of a table in public. One of the lead characters walked by the coke users and cracked, "Looking good, man," then he and his girlfriend retreated to her bedroom to engage in their private party antics, only to find a naked boy and two girls in her bed.
But the real take-the-cake "Teen Choice" winner was ABC's "Desperate Housewives," which won for "Choice Breakout Show," and actress Eva Longoria won for "Choice Breakout Actress." Longoria, whose character's affair with her teenaged gardener was apparently too slutty to earn an Emmy nomination (as three of her "Desperate" cast mates were nominated). But she was upstanding enough for the Teen Choice Awards.
When she accepted, Longoria expressed moral confusion: "I don't know how I feel about teenagers watching us," but lest you think she was attempting to draw some moral line, she added the joke, "but I did spend all season with a teenager." Cue the supportive screaming audience.
Actress Jessica Alba evinced the same bubblegum brand of moral relativism when she wondered to USA Today how her cowgirl stripper from the ultra-violent and raunchy R-rated movie "Sin City" got her nominated for best movie actress in the action-adventure category. "If their parents took them, then fine," she said, shrugging. "It was a very artistic movie."
This is child pornography in reverse. Rather than raunchy imagery of innocent children being peddled to seedy adults, it is moral depravity being marketed to children by adults. Once upon a time, Hollywood had the common decency to build safe harbors around impressionable children. Today, the ground rules are reversed, and now it is that very sweet innocence that they are out to destroy.