Danny Flaherty, a 17-year-old actor in the new MTV series, Skins, is described by his TV Director as “sweet, shy…ready.”
Ready for what?
To appear nude on TV, for starters. Danny’s mother had a few qualms, apparently, about her son starring in a teen drama rife with explicit sexual scenes, drug abuse and alcohol. But, Danny assured her, it’s just a “job,” and besides, he’s “superstoked” about it. After all, he and his co-stars (some as young as 15) get to inhabit a teen world full of sexual duos and trios, gays and straights, “pill-poppers” and “nymphomaniacs,” with no moral repercussions—or even capable parents---in sight.
Sounds like child exploitation to me.
MTV defends the show, saying it’s aimed at adults (rated TV-MA), not teens, and simply intends to depict teenage lives realistically. If so, it fails on its own terms. One Washington Post reviewer called Skins a “repugnant, irredeemably nihilistic viewing experience for grownups - the very thing for which ‘off’ buttons are made.” Another reviewer noted that if the series really is intended for adults, and shows that much underage skin, then “that’s creepy.”
But MTV is lying. It's MTV, for crying out loud. The teen actors are at least a bit more honest about exactly who the show is targeting. One of the beautiful young stars plays a lesbian cheerleader; a recent episode portrayed her “pleasuring herself” at the sight of Audrey Hepburn. Her read on the audience? "I'm much more concerned with the opinions of the teenagers of America than the parents, because that's who we were trying to reach," she says.
Whomever the audience is, one thing is for sure; MTV is willing to degrade and exploit teenagers for profit, and they have been doing it for years.
The show’s creator, Bryan Elsley, is so desparately trying to justify his personal abuse of young people that he even attempts to frame the show as “a very simple and…rather old fashioned television series…It tries to tell the truth [though] sometimes that truth can be a little painful to adults and parents.”