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Entertainment

MTV's "Skins" Wraps Itself in Child Porn Controversy

TelevisionMTV (tv network)Skins (tv program)Television IndustryWPIXSatellite and Cable Service

MTV's new racy show "Skins" is everywhere. Not only did its premiere episode attract more than 3 million viewers, it's been written about in hundreds of newspapers, magazines and blogs. That's because advertisers are dropping like flies; Shick, Wrigley, and today, Subway, all pulled the plug. That makes seven so far. The sexually charged show features high school students who routinely have sex, drink alcohol and do drugs.

The show is rated TV-MA and includes the appropriate disclaimer in the beginning of each show. That rating means that it may not be suitable for teens under 17. But still, kids as young as 12 years old are watching the show. And many of the actors are under the age of 18.

Scandalous maybe, but illegal? The Parents Television Council asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether an upcoming episode violates federal child pornography statutes. In the 3rd episode, the character Chris is apparently going to be shown from the back, running down the street naked. Reportedly, MTV executives are growing concerned, and want producers to tone it down. But they would not say specifically if that scene will be cut because of that concern. We asked attorney Doug Kepanis if the scene could get the network in trouble with the FCC, he said, "It's not lascivious, he's merely running, there's no genitals exposed and MTV can always have the argument that it's done for a literary, artistic, political, or scientific purpose, which would be the artistic purpose here."

MTV Spokesperson Jeannie Kedas sent us this statement: "Skins is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way. We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with laws and community standards. We are confident that the episodes of Skins will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers. 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."

Media expert Mark Joyella says all this controversy and all this media attention may spell success for the sexually charged show, but cautions parents, that if you're letting MTV teach your kids, you might deserve what you get, "If you wait and let your kids find out about sex by watching Skins, well, you've probably already made a few mistakes down the road. And I don't think you can really fault MTV for that."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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