“Standing up to MTV” by Steve O’Connor

Frequent contributor Steve O’Connor share some thoughts on Comcast, MTV, and that cable channel’s controversial new show, Skins:

I spent a half hour on the phone yesterday, half of that on hold, with Comcast. I had been watching a report on CNN earlier about a new drama called “Skins” to be shown on MTV. One sponsor, Taco Bell, I believe, has already backed out of advertising during the show, which apparently depicts sex, drug use, and getting drunk among high school kids. Some of the actors are as young as fifteen. Many of the viewers will be younger, I’m sure. Just when you thought the bar of American culture couldn’t get any lower.

MTV defended itself against critics by insisting that they were just reflecting the reality of young lives. They are misunderstood artists of course. Meanwhile, I’m a parent who is just fed up with the rubbish that MTV has been flinging in the faces of our young people for so many years. It’s been a battle getting my kids to turn the channel on shows during which every other word is bleeped out. The characters, in reality shows or dramas, are usually spoiled and self-obsessed, back-stabbing, gossiping, materialistic individuals who are only happy when they are admiring themselves in the mirror, getting drunk in a hot tub, or bad-mouthing some so-called friend.

The Comcast representative, an extremely polite woman who I understand is just doing her job, informed me that it’s possible to block channels. Well, we don’t have a box on every TV, so that’s not really an option. The V chip blocks by content, so in blocking MTV, I might be unable to watch Band of Brothers on the History Chanel, or movie that depicts a sex scene which is not gratuitous, but part of a story with redeeming value, maybe with characters who actually love each other and sacrifice for each other. I guess it’s the shallowness, the mindlessness, of MTV’s brand of sex or “hooking up” and partying that troubles me more than anything.

I’d like to suggest, if you have Comcast, that you take a look at the Digital Economy package. Half the price, and you get basic Service, plus the cable news networks, A&E, Discovery, Food Network, AMC, History, Hallmark, C-Span 2, Disney, and a lot of others, but no MTV. It’s time to send a message to this company that we’re tired of the “reality” they insist they have to reflect. I’m not bringing up my kids to be monks or nuns, but I am trying to teach them some values. Why would I want to pay to have “Skins” in my home?

6 Responses to “Standing up to MTV” by Steve O’Connor

  1. Dean says:

    You ask why many foreigns and Muslims do not like our culture. Cultural imperialism they they see it.

  2. Renee Aste says:

    I agree with Dead.

    Think about what MTV use to be and it truly was an expression of the Humanities. The introduction of Yo! MTV Raps to the mainstream and 120 Minutes for alternative music. In 1992 I was about 15 when the Real World debuted. I wasn’t impressed, even back then. 19 years later the MTV brand is reduced to Jersey Shore and Skins. It’s a lot like adult material, instead of lifting you up mentally and emotionally, it just lowers yourself into the gutter further and further. It’s not the subject of sex, rather it asking ourselves is this material moving into something positive or negative in terms of emotions and relationships.

    As for my children I try to focus on what I can offer, not what not letting them watch or do.

    BTW I don’t have cable or satellite.

  3. DickH says:

    The following comment was received via email from Jerry Bisantz who gave me permission to post it here

    As an artist and a writer for the theater, I have become increasingly appalled at the “lowest common denominator” level that television has sunk in an attempt to “get real” and “mirror” out society.

    My wife is a teacher. I see my kids and other kids, and have had the pleasure of watching extremely talented young people in theater over the years. I saw about 20 minutes of this “Skins” abomination. THAT is certainly not the “reality” that I see from the kids I know.

    Next weekend, the Lowell High School Drama club is producing Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”… a monumental play about the importance of everyday lives. A play that takes great dedication and patience and hard work to produce. These kids- Asian, Greek, Black… whatever, you name it… all these kids have put their hearts into creating this incredible work.

    “Skins” represents our youth? I think not!

    What it does represent is the greed of the suits who want to be the next “hot” show.

    Depicting sex between 16 year olds and then HIRING 16 year olds should be against the [g-d] law.

    Jerry Bisantz

    PS: if you want relief from this horrible “culture” we have created for ourselves… see “The King’s English”; a movie made with intelligence, with great acting, noble characters, and NOTHING BLOWS UP!!!

  4. Renee Aste says:

    We know this type of material is nothing new from MTV, but they’re really upfront in how they market it towards minors. For example a press release from MTV 2 on Futon Critic.


    “Worrying about how to handle those football withdrawal symptoms this weekend? MTV2 has the remedy � live coverage of the Lingerie Football League’s Eastern and Western Conference Finals on Saturday, January 29, beginning at 6 p.m. ET. “Super Saturday Night” on MTV2 night is sure to be the perfect dose fans need with 90 minutes of back-to-back live gridiron action featuring the hottest female athletes playing full-contact football.”

    “MTV2 is a man’s best friend, available in nearly 80 million homes and with the highest concentration of males 12-24 and 12-34 on TV today. A vibrant mix of music, lifestyle and action sports programming, MTV2 has reflected the habits and behavior of young people since its launch in 1996.”

    Why not just call it a soft p*rn channel for minors? Because that’s what MTV2 is.

  5. Steve says:

    Footnote: Took the wife and daughter to see True Grit tonight.
    Before it began, we were treated to a promotional ad for MTV’s “Skins.”
    Couldn’t help but reflect later on the strength of character depicted in True Grit contrasted with the total lack of character portrayed in the “Skins” ad.