Home / Skins - I'm over it  
Image of Skins - I'm over it

I recently read "Conservatives Freak Out Over MTV's "Skins" -- Teenagers Have Sex. Get Over It." posted at the liberal blog AlterNet. If you have any question as to why kids, especially teenagers, have so many problems in school, look no further than this article. Although I've never seen statistics other than for colleges, I've heard the claim that liberals generally dominate public education with some asking "who cares?" Honestly, it's not the political imbalances that I care about, especially considering I'm apolitical. It's the ideology (or lack thereof) and values (or lack thereof) driving what they think kids should be exposed to that concerns me. It appears the liberal writer at AlterNet is "completely obsessed with the show" that supports teens having sex, overdosing on drugs, experimenting with suicide, and getting drunk. In the "superfan" author's view, "it's fun as hell to watch." Maybe that's what AlterNet's editorial team thinks is fun and appropriate to fill our children's minds with, but it's certainly not what I want my daughter exposed to.

Values I support my daughter learning

Never being a big fan anyway, I stopped watching TV completely about 10 years ago as I found just about nothing on it intellectually stimulating. To me, TV appears to be a tool for deadening your ability to think in the name of "relaxation." (Like the American population really thinks so much that they need relaxation from it, he cynically thinks to himself. But I digress...) When my daughter is with me, and with the general exceptions of when she's sick or has a friend sleeping over, the only time she's allowed to watch the TV is during our dinner time (which typically takes about 20 minutes). And, even then, she can only watch movies that we rent from Netflix. (I haven't subscribed to cable TV in ages as what would be the point?)

But this past holiday vacation, I made an exception: during two of our days, she was allowed to have movie marathons. We probably watched a total of six movies over the course of those two days, all downloaded through Netflix's internet service. She loved it and it was great father/daughter time. Three of the movies were from the Booky series (based on the books written by Bernice Thurman Hunter that my daughter just happened to stumble over as she was going through the family category:

  • Booky Makes Her Mark (2006): "Beatrice "Booky" Thomson, is a spunky 15-year-old who dreams of becoming a great writer despite the odds. Life in Toronto during the 1930s are hard ones for Booky's family. Parents Thomas and Francy are barely able to eke out a living for themselves and their children Willa, Arthur and Booky. But irrepressible Booky, with her big imagination and even bigger plans, seems able to tackle anything.

    When her new school teacher, Mr. Jackson inspires her to become a writer, Booky pursues her career with gusto - until she lets some well-meaning advice from a great Canadian author shatter her dreams.

    Following a short stay at Aunt Aggie's Muskoka farm to quell a bout of bronchitis, Booky returns home to resume the usual joys and trials of growing up. She starts the Deanna Durbin fan club with her best friends Ada-May and Gloria; rebuffs the advances of her brother's trouble-making friend Georgie; celebrates her 16th birthday with disastrous results; and falls for Gloria's ex-boyfriend Lorne. Then one day, she decides to enter the local newspaper's essay writing contest and what happens after that nearly turns Booky's life upside down."

  • Booky and the Secret Santa (2007): "Attending the annual Santa Claus parade with her family, Booky Thomson (Rachel Marcus) is delighted when Santa waves and offers her a cheery "hello!" To be singled out by the city's beloved Parade Santa is a thrill for the 10-year-old and surely a sign of good things to come.

    Perhaps its time we consider the words of Mahatma Gandhi and be the change we want to see in the world

    But a few days later, Booky's father (Stuart Hughes) is laid off and, with no money for a fancy dinner or presents, the Thomson family find themselves facing a rather bleak Christmas. To help out, Booky takes a job at her aunt's nut store, where she meets and befriends a wealthy department store owner (Kenneth Welsh) who, after a chance remark, Booky becomes convinced is the Parade Santa. Though he denies the claim, the kind businessman does everything he can to help Booky give her family a perfect Christmas."

  • Booky's Crush (2009): "It's a new grade at school and 11-year-old Beatrice "Booky" Thomson (Rachel Marcus) and her friends have suddenly noticed that boys are interesting. And for Booky, the new boy she's tutoring, Georgie Dunlop (Connor Price), holds special allure. When her teacher Mr. Spencer (Albert Schultz) announces an upcoming dance, it's all she can do to contain her infatuation. Booky's loving and sensible mom Francie (Megan Follows) guides her gently through her first crush while managing to rekindle her own romance with Booky's hardworking father Thomas (Stuart Hughes).

    Set in Toronto during the 1930s, the family film is based on the "Booky" novels by Bernice Thurman Hunter who had her first book published in 1981, when she was a grandmother."

Netflix describes the movies as "heartfelt," "sentimental," "feel-good," and "family-friendly." If you have children aged nine through fourteen, I'd strongly recommend the entire series. Let me describe to you some of the scenes and quotes from the film Booky Makes Her Mark so that you can get a flavor for the values taught in the series. For example:

  • Two rich teenagers, who don't act pretentious at all, are dating each other. The boy eventually breaks up with his girlfriend because he wants to date Booky instead. The rich girl, who is a friend of Booky's, isn't jealous and wishes Booky and him well in their relationship. She even still wants to go to a party where they will both be. The rich girl is genuinely happy for both of them.

  • Booky is celebrating winning a writing contest with her mom and she is excited about the potential for being famous. Her mom replies as follows: "Whether or not people know who you are, that's not what's important... I just want you to remember that what other people think is not nearly as important as what you think. Suppose people don't like a story of yours someday? Well, then what are you: nothing again? Of course not, if you believe in yourself... You gotta be strong in this world. Strong enough to know your own faults. It's lying to themselves that does people in. Not what other people think."

  • When Booky is explaining to her father, who fought in the war, why she didn't write about him as being the bravest man she knows (she instead wrote about her aunt), she explains: "I was going to write about you in the war Daddy. I did write it. Or at least I tried to, but it didn't come out right. And then I had an inspiration. The bravest person I know is Aunt Aggie. I wrote that first sentence down and I knew I had to write about her. It just felt right... [Father: I see. And what is it about my sister that makes her so brave, in your opinion?] Aunt Aggie's the only person I know who's living exactly the way she wants to. And she's willing to meet any challenge, even the challenge of loneliness in order to have her independence."

  • When Booky's parents are saying to their oldest daughter, who is studying to be a doctor, that they can't afford to send her to medical school, she responds: "You helped me all my life. It's time I helped myself."

  • Booky's grandpa says to her: "The strongest people I know are people who don't lie to themselves."

Also, let me provide some of the general attributes that are consistent across all three films:

  • Even though many are poor, children and teenagers generally wore pretty dresses and suits.

  • Children and teenagers generally had good manners, and men acted like gentlemen to ladies.

  • Children hardly talked back to their parents - when their parents asked them to do something, generally they did it without much, if any, complaining.

Values I do not support my daughter learning

Now, with that backdrop, let's compare the attributes of these three movies with Skins. (As I haven't seen Skins, I can only go based on the claims of the AlterNet author and I cannot validate that these are proper critiques):

  • "Last week, the conservative Parents TV Council slammed MTV for its new show, "Skins," calling it "the most dangerous program ever" for its portrayal of teenagers doing things they often do in reality: have sex, curse and take drugs."

  • "Advertisers from Taco Bell to H&R Block have pulled their spots."

  • "MTV is wringing its hands (aka trying to drum up more viewers) over whether it's violating federal child pornography laws by an upcoming scene featuring a naked 17-year-old with an erection running down the street."

  • "Because the show aimed to portray teenagers in the brightest, most truthful light, no aspect of their lives was glossed over: they popped pills, smoked weed, had tons of sex, got hurt, provoked trouble, went to raves at ridiculous hours and cursed up a storm."

  • "Occasionally they were embroiled in outrageous antics, such as being hunted down by a middle-aged drug dealer or accidentally driving a stolen car into a river."

  • "They are young, independent kids growing up in the first world and so, like many Western teens, they have sex and experiment with drugs."

  • "In Series 1 and 2, Cassie, portrayed by the lithe and goggle-eyed Hannah Murray, overdoses on pills more than once; far from flip about drug use, though, her experimentation/suicide attempts are portrayed as side effects of her severe anorexia and profound loneliness."

  • "Which is not to say the kids don't have a great time experimenting -- drunkenness is par for the course, ecstasy is thoroughly enjoyed at dance parties, there's at least a joint smoked per episode, and it's fun as hell to watch."

Got the general picture? The author concludes her piece with the recommendation: "Show [Skins] to your kids, then listen to what they have to say." Thanks, but I'll decline.

I know... I know: I shouldn't be concerned because Skins viewership is in a tailspin at only its second airing. But Skins isn't the problem here per se, especially given that there are other TV shows that exhibit similar behaviors and are doing quite well. For example, consider Glee. In its third season, Glee is about a "high-school Spanish teacher [who] becomes the director of the school's Glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory." Sounds innocent, right? The music is amazing (my daughter owns the DVD set so I've seen it before). Probably my favorite is Don't Stop Believing. So what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing... except for teachers selling drugs to other teachers, gay teachers inappropriately touching students, teenagers getting pregnant, wives lying to their husbands that they are pregnant, teachers planting drugs on kids in order to get them to join Glee, locking wheelchair-bound teenagers in port-o-potties intending to flip them, and the like.

We'll be watching more of Booky, thank you very much

I'm not one who fakes reality and I'm not a prude. I read enough to know about the problems children and teens currently face in schools. I'm not trying to ignore them. But perhaps one of the causes of these horrific problems is that TV is idolizing the problematic behaviors. These TV shows are giving "candy" to kids in the form of music and fun in order to entice them into exploring what I consider problematic behaviors. Perhaps its time we consider the words of Mahatma Gandhi and be the change we want to see in the world. Let's start by turning off the TVs our children watch, or at least directing them to programs that reflect the values we want them to emulate and hold. At least for me, sex, drugs, suicide, and drinking aren't at the top of my list.


Original posting by bindependent on Jan 26, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=448

Written by permalink    plaintext

The introduction to the group chat discussion on Fed 11, 2011:

In the psychological blockbuster Fight Club, Tyler Durden says "We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear." When someone has a lack of experience, oftentimes he will look for an example to emulate. Of course this is especially true for children - kids look for role models so that they know how to act. For example, if a child sees other children on TV acting unintelligent or being spoiled, their behavior is more likely to be negative. And considering that "90 percent of U.S. children under age 2 and as many as 40 percent of infants under three months are regular watchers of television," we should consider the content of what our children see. How has TV changed since we were children? What standards should we use to determine if TV entertainment is getting better or worse? Is Hollywood teaching kids to be stupid or is TV just a reflection of society's direction and values?

You need to be logged in to comment.
search only within braincrave

About braincrave


We all admire beauty, but the mind ultimately must be stimulated for maximum arousal. Longevity in relationships cannot occur without a meeting of the minds. And that is what Braincrave is: a dating venue where minds meet. Learn about the thoughts of your potential match on deeper topics... topics that spawn your own insights around what you think, the choices you make, and the actions you take.

We are a community of men and women who seek beauty and stimulation through our minds. We find ideas, education, and self-improvement sexy. We think intelligence is hot. But Braincrave is more than brains and I.Q. alone. We are curious. We have common sense. We value and offer wisdom. We experiment. We have great imaginations. We devour literacy. We are intellectually honest. We support and encourage each other to be better.

You might be lonely but you aren't alone.

Sep, 2017 update: Although Braincrave resulted in two confirmed marriages, the venture didn't meet financial targets. Rather than updating our outdated code base, we've removed all previous dating profiles and retained the articles that continue to generate interest. Moving to valME.io's platform supports dating profiles (which you are welcome to post) but won't allow typical date-matching functionality (e.g., location proximity, attribute similarity).

The Braincrave.com discussion group on Second Life was a twice-daily intellectual group discussions typically held at 12:00 PM SLT (PST) and 7:00 PM SLT. The discussions took place in Second Life group chat but are no longer formally scheduled or managed. The daily articles were used to encourage the discussions.

Latest Activity