Saturday, October 23, 2010
My mom used to tell me to turn off MTV because some of the Billy Idol videos were less than wholesome. I much preferred MTV when it trafficked in unwholesome fantasy than now, when it tries to shape teenagers' perceptions of reality. Remember that MTV has a target audience of 12 to 18 year-olds. The network has announced plans to begin airing a new show ("Skins") about life in high school, which of course prominently features "sex and drugs." (I'm not linking to the site -- they will be getting enough traffic already.) In the trailer for the new series, the featured plot line is a student's attempt to make sure his friend loses his virginity before he turns 17 so that the first student doesn't have to stop being his friend out of sheer embarrassment. For good measure, throw in a drug overdose by the student who agreed to help the friend lose his virginity. And make sure that the (decidedly non-teenage) creator pitches the whole series as "the most realistic show on television." In other words, if you are a 16 year-old virgin out there, you are a total oddball and should be ashamed of yourself. The middle-aged adults at MTV will undoubtedly defend themselves by saying, "We're just reflecting what's out there." No, you're working hard to manufacture what's out there.
(OK, if you're demanding a Catholic legal theory link before I step off my soapbox, how about this: the programming execs at MTV are prime examples of Pope Benedict's reminder that one's conscience “requires formation and education,” and can “become stunted,” “stamped out,” and “falsified so that it can only speak in a stunted or distorted way.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, On Conscience 62 (2007).)