The Parents Television Council has organized an advertiser boycott of MTV’s new controversial new program “Skins.” Now it is suggesting the producers of the program may have violated child pornography laws. It is asking the US Attorney General and both congressional judiciary committees to investigate, and it’s asking its followers to do the same at the state level.
In a communication to supporters posted on its website, PTC said, “Today we urgently call on you to contact your state Attorney General and ask him or her to investigate whether MTV or your local cable/satellite provider has violated child p*rnography or exploitation laws in your state.”
PTC detests the content of the program in general, and it’s targeting the depiction of “sexually explicit conduct,” that is performed by actors in the 15-19 age range.
The post continues, “The PTC has been working directly with local law enforcement authorities on this matter, but we desperately need your help, too. That’s why we’re asking you to take action now by contacting your state Attorney General’s office and demanding a thorough investigation to determine if MTV, its parent corporation Viacom, and your cable/satellite provider may have broken local child p*rnography or child endangerment laws. Please, take a moment RIGHT NOW to write to your state Attorney General and demand a full investigation.”
PTC is also using the occasion to solicit donations to help carry its mission forward.
According to Hollywood Reporter, MTV programmer David Janollari says that the all the hullaballoo around the show is actually a good thing. The cable network says that the loss of some advertisers hasn’t impacted the bottom line, and that the network is committed to airing the entire 10-episode run. It declined to discuss the current legal maneuvering of PTC.
The program has already been a topic on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” and is said to be attracting between 1.5M-1.6M viewers per episode.
RBR-TVBR observation: Common Sense, another children’s programming watchdog, is not enamored of this program, but if you go to its website rather than finding a call to arms, you will find ways that a parent can use the program as a teachable moment.
That’s the First Amendment approach to programming, and it’s also sensible, because although certain words and images are banned from broadcast television screens, it is impossible to stop creative types from clearly implying those exact same words and images.
As George Carlin used to point out, the presence of sex on broadcast television was ubiquitous, particularly on soap operas, where it would hang heavy in the air, but just off camera. It was all over the script as well, just minus a certain few choice Anglo-Saxon words.
The rules on the cable side are of course much looser. PTC knows it, and that is no doubt why it’s going after its targets on child pornography rather than program content grounds.
Frankly, sometimes we get sick of defending programs like “Skins.” But ultimately, the content wars cannot be won by those trying to restrict expression. Common Sense shows that there are alternatives other than all-out warfare to dealing with that which ultimately cannot be stopped.
Personally, we use a third alternative. We watch something else.