The Briefing, a daily cultural analysis program from Dr. Albert Mohler, I heard him mention a new TV program from MTV that has begun airing.
This program, called Skins, is a drama designed to look much like a reality show. The child actors are aged 15 to 17. One would wonder whether shows featuring teenagers might be better suited to MTV’s other network, Nickelodeon. It is not uncommon for actors in their twenties (and even thirties) to play the role of a prepubescent teenager on that network.
So why would MTV, a network geared towards adults, feature a show with teenagers? I can only guess, but I believe part of it is designed to transition teenagers from the more childish Nickelodeon to the more adult (though still childish) MTV using actors their own age in exploits they see or can imagine in their high schools.
The problem is that Skins is definitely NOT for children. As a matter of fact, were the parents likely to enforce the show rating on their kids, the child actors who appear in it wouldn’t even be allowed to watch it—it’s rated TV-MA, signaling that it is not appropriate for viewers under 17.
The reason Dr. Mohler mentioned the show was because it appeared in an article in the New York Times. It seems the show’s producers are afraid they may be in violation of child pornography laws due to some of the graphic nature of a few episodes. One episode due to air at the end of this month features, from behind, a 17 year old male running naked down a street. The episode apparently focuses on the teenager’s misuse of an erectile dysfunction drug.
Other episodes, according to the article, show “simulated masturbation, implied sexual assault, and teenagers disrobing and getting into bed together.”
On the one hand, this is nothing new. MTV has been pushing the envelope on sexuality and obscenity in film and TV for quite some time. Other movies popular with teenagers, such as the American Pie, Scary Movie, and other series, feature much of the same content (links are to reviews by Focus on the Family). Additionally, many teenagers are exposed to obscenity and sexuality throughout their high school experience. Chances are the concepts of teen sex, sexual assault, and sexual performance are not new to the average high schooler.
But there is a big difference. This show features teenagers in the leading roles as teenagers, and it is designed to look like reality. We live in a culture that has refused to be defined by any kind of moral system, much like Israel in the time of the Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
Our culture by and large, and MTV in particular, is lusting after the exact same system of morality. MTV pushes this mentality on its viewers, saying, “We also have taken numerous steps to alert viewers to the strong subject matter so that they can choose for themselves whether it is appropriate.”
MTV has raised a defense, saying that the show itself is “specifically designed to be viewed by adults.” Does this make it any better? First off, obscenity and immoral sexuality is not edifying to the spirit but rather gratifying to the flesh. As beings under the law of God, we are to put on Christ and not gratify our sinful desires (cf. Rom. 13:14). We are very good at excusing ourselves by saying that we can filter out the bad because we’re older or more mature, yet that kind of self-justification is evidence of our own immaturity!
Second, and what I find personally disgusting, is the logical conclusion that comes from saying Skins is “specifically designed to be viewed by adults”: the teenage sexuality is for adults. If the content of the show borders on child pornography, the purpose of the show borders on pedophilia—fulfilling and encouraging adult fantasies about minors!
We as human beings are under the law of God and we stand condemned. Living as though we are the masters of our universe will not change or delay the inevitable subjection of all things to Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24-28). We need reconciliation with God, which is only possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As people under the law of God, we should avoid TV shows, Movies, music, and other forms of “entertainment” that push Satan’s agenda for the world on our minds and consciences. As parents, we should work to teach our children to adopt a biblical worldview instead of a worldly, rebellious worldview that says, “Do what is right in your own eyes.” As Christians, we should engage this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ to “destroy strongholds… arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).