“What you are about to view, may not be suitable for minors.” This is the warning that runs before each episode of MTV’s new teen drama Skins. Skins is about a group of teenagers dealing with very adult problems including but not limited to drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, prostitution, pornography, driving under the influence.
Skins does nothing to promote the good in the American teenager. MTV maintains the belief that Skins portrays a realistic view of the life of a teenager. True as that may be for a tiny percentage of teens in the United States, Skins needs to also show the realistic consequences for that type of lifestyle or just eliminate the show altogether. The original British version is much more bawdy than its United States counterpart thanks to stricter U.S. censorship guidelines. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, the American version pushes the limits as far as they can go and perhaps further.
The tasteless scenes of teenage drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, and prostitution caused such an uproar among groups such as the Parents Television Council that they attacked advertisers that aired commercials during this show, while allegations of borderline child pornography also emerged. Advertisers got the message and have been pulling their spots one right after the other. Taco Bell was the first to remove advertising and was later joined by Foot Locker, L’Oreal, Schick, Subway, Wrigley, General Motors, H&R Block, and counting. Now it’s time for Red Bull, Zeno Hot Spot, Celtrixia (a stretch mark cream–MTV getting desperate?), and PlayStation to jump on the bandwagon. Then all that will be left are movie trailers and MTV promos.
Despite advertiser fallout, MTV still plans to air all ten episodes of Skins. While removing sponsorship from Skins is a good step for the Parents Television Council to take in ending this atrocious show, there is still more for advertisers to do. If the past is any indicator, shows can lose major support from advertisers and still prosper. At least that was the case for Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, host of The Glenn Beck Program. In 2009, Beck made a comment about President Obama being a racist and at least 57 advertisers removed spots during his show. However, even with a mass withdrawal of advertisers Beck’s show remains on Fox News and quite popular. In order to get MTV to cancel Skins advertisers need to pull advertising from the channel until Skins is off the air. Advertisers may not be willing to take such a risk for fear that Skins stays on but if enough ads are pulled out, MTV will really be harming themselves to allow Skins to stay on, especially if the ratings continue to go down.
If MTV cares at all about the power that parents have over their children and the shows they watch, they may want to look at the reactions that some parents have had to Skins. Many parenting blogs and Twitter accounts have been linking together to form a boycott against Skins just as the Parents Television Council did to Taco Bell until they removed advertising from the show. These parents are very heated about Skins and aren’t likely to back down anytime soon.
Even with all of the talk that surrounded the controversial show, ratings didn’t improve during its second week. Three million viewers watched the January 17th premiere of Skins. A week later 1.6 million tuned in. Will next week even hit 1 million? Hopefully not.