Teens Have Sex! Why Can’t We Show It On TV?

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Producers of MTV’s Skins will be toning down future episodes of the show, in order to more fully comply with US Child Pornography statutes. It’s too bad really, because the scripted drama was poised to be the only realistic (and, yes, salacious) depiction of teenage sex on television.

The British version of Skins depicts sex: lots of sex. And not maudlin, emotional, candle-lit “first love” sex, or traumatic, emotionally scarring, accidentally inseminating sex, but gritty, casual, and often (oh, horrors!) enjoyable sex.

The third episode of the original Skins showed Chris, running through the streets of town naked with an erection, having taken erectile dysfunction pills. The scene is more silly than shocking, and the episode as a whole focuses on the character’s abandonment by his parents (and thus ensuing recklessness.) This episode will be altered, and a shot of Chris’s naked butt censored in the MTV version.

Why do producers assume that American teenagers are incapable of watching this type of content? What is it about a British 15 year old that makes him or her mature enough to handle the material, while an American 15 year old isn’t?

Sex isn’t the only thing being scrubbed from the American version of the show: the pilot was considerably dumbed down as well. To me, it is more disturbing that Jean-Paul Sartre has been cut out of the pilot than any bawdiness left in.

The characters depicted on Skins are largely unsupervised. Chris doesn’t have parents to keep him from reckless behavior: hopefully, the majority of viewers will. And most American teens DO know the difference between what’s on TV and real life, just as most don’t imitate the violence in the video games they play, or the even more overt sexuality in the music they listen to.

The kids that are having sex will have sex anyway, and the kids who aren’t still probably won’t.Shouldn’t we trust our younger generation enough to let them see–and decide–for themselves?

[A Racy Show With Teenagers Steps Back From a Boundary]