The Skinny on MTV’s “Skins”

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The Skinny on MTV’s “Skins”

Concerned parents get another chance to go apoplectic over Hollywood’s latest challenge to their sense of decency with MTV’s Skins. This U.S. knockoff of the U.K. original is a hormonally controlled collection of easy-on-the eyes teenagers who lack any significant purpose within their otherwise self-focused lives. If you had smell-a-vision, you could pick up the distinct bouquet of Pot wafting out through the opening credits. The belligerent and clueless parents bumbling in the background complete the cliché. As a genre, there’s nothing really innovative about this series. The nimrods running the entertainment world assume that each new generation of adolescents is just a ramped-up extension of the original rebels without a cause—this time with smart phones. Thus, Skins. Since MTV is part of the basic cable package, you’re already paying for a peek. So, if you don’t want to take my word for it that Skins is rude, crude, and lewd, you can check it out for yourself. What you’re going to find is a gritty version of American Pie minus anything worth laughing about.  The toxic waste that defines the relationships between the parents and the kids simply explains how a group of teenagers could go through their meaningless days without leaving a redemptive imprint on anyone or anything they touch. But before you panic and assume it’s just a matter of seconds before your tweens and teens will be tuning in and taking notes, here’s the inside skinny. All Skins is is a caricature of what you end up with when families lack any absolute morals, relational boundaries, adult leadership or heart connection. Obviously, there are some families like this; always have been. No doubt there are more than any of us would prefer. But there are lots of families with parents who are paying attention and standing up on behalf of their kid’s best interest. These are parents who sacrificially love their kids, deliberately lead them, and know how to maintain a heart connection to them—even through their teenage years.  Nobody gets it all right, but if a parent falls within the area code of responsibility, they don’t need to see Skins as much of a threat to their teenager’s sense of identification. The drop in viewing audience by almost 50% between the first and second installments might be an indication that Skins doesn’t even appeal much to people who might be otherwise inclined to identify with it. Here’s the good news: gracious, humble parents who take an active role in leading their kids through the moral mine fields of their culture give their children all they need to thrive. These kinds of parents equip their kids with the moral savvy and spiritual grit needed to not only see what’s wrong with this picture, but also find nothing about its story line worth coveting. If anything, kids raised with a clearly defined spiritual and moral core will find the characters of Skins teenagers to be pitied—not copied; someone they’d like to rescue from their freefall—not someone they want to start hanging out with. Any kid raised close to a conscientious parent’s heart can watch Skins and know how the story ends. Young people on this kind of a collision course in life don’t grow up and magically become noble. Their unguided, thus misguided priorities eventually derail their best laid plans. If you’ve got young kids and early teenagers at home, this is probably a good time to use the option on your remotes to block the MTV channels. If you’ve got older teenagers that are allowed access, it might make sense to sit down and watch an installment with them, without any sound effects from you, then let them tell you what they think of it. That option may be too much for some parents to handle. I understand. But if you’re scared to death of your older teens being exposed to the underbelly of their culture, you might think twice about letting them go out the front door to say … the Mall, or school (public, private, Christian, co-opt or home-with-siblings), or to any place that doesn’t have young people whose hormones have been mystically shut off for the duration of their teenage years. It’s the choice between raising a safe kid or a strong one. Kids with a heart connection to parents that don’t lead from a position of fear generally do just fine. And should those kids get exposed to a world that has the veneer of MTV’s Skins, that heart connection you maintain with them is usually all they need to rise above it all when it’s time for them to decide how they want to live their life.

So, what do you think? Do you see these kinds of shows as huge threats to your kids or do you see them as challenges that can be countered by a close, grace-based connection to your child’s heart? Please leave your feedback in the comments section.

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