I joined the fire department when I was 16. I was able to hang with the boys pretty well and not be offended by the moments of locker room humor. I consider myself laid back, but as a Mom I think my tolerance for certain things has changed a LOT. For some reason, some of the television programming for pre-teens and teenagers out there seriously befuddles me.
Before I sound "high and mighty", I have to disclose that my guilty pleasures include the "Real Housewives" (New Jersey, Atlanta, BH...). When I was sick, I watched a Jersey Shore marathon during a sleepless night. That being said, I'm 34 (not to mention a married, "boring" Mom). I think I am beyond the impressionable phase.
Once upon a time, I loved "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "The Real World" (like seasons 1, 2, 3...). When the new version of "Beverly Hills, 90210" came out, I watched the first few episodes. Those who admit to watching the original series remember that it was a BIG deal when someone drank or did drugs, and Donna Martin deciding whether or not to sleep with David Silver consumed episodes. It wasn't "The Brady Bunch", but by today's standards the subject matter was lame. I watched the first few episodes of the new version. Holy cow...drunk texting, sleeping around, the 1990s version on crack. I know times have changed, but if my daughter was 13 she would not be watching the show.
Apparently, it gets worse. During the aforementioned "Jersey Shore" marathon, I saw commercials for the new MTV show "Skins". Talk about blatant promiscuity, drugs, drinking, sex. None of these things seemed to be taboo or risky, either. Just normal teenage behavior. So The Washington Post published an article yesterday about the show. (You can read it here). Normally I would probably scoff at critiques by the Parents Television Council, but this one seems to be spot on.
In the 42 minute premier, there were 41 visual and spoken references to drugs and alcohol. This doesn't include the sex.
"On January 17, the Viacom-owned cable network MTV aired a teenager-based drama, 'Skins.' The episode included all manner of foul language, illegal drug use, illegal activity as well as thoroughly pervasive sexual content. Moreover, future episodes promise much more of the same," PTC said.
So maybe I am turning into my mother, who I had to beg to let me see "Dirty Dancing" in 6th grade because there was...ummmm....dirty dancing in the movie. I wasn't a perfect teenager, and I definitely tested the boundaries, but do we need our pop culture making it so ok for kids to engage in these risky behaviors?! My 8 year old has already come home singing Ke$ha songs she learned on the playground (in the days when I refrained from letting her hear such songs on the radio). How do you explain that it isn't ok to brush your teeth "with a bottle of Jack"?
Ok, so perhaps this is a rant. Perhaps a Mom trying to figure out how to empower my children to make good choices, and wishing that society made it a little easier!