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The Oak Leaf Norfolk Collegiate School Norfolk, VA
Issue Date: Friday, February 18, 2011 Issue: February 18, 2011 Last Update: Thursday, March 03, 2011
Fri, 04 Mar 2011 23:59:00 GMT
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Media in the United States has come a long way since the days of “Saved by the Bell” and “Boy Meets World.” Now tweens and teens are subjected to vulgarity, profanity and obscenity every time they turn on the television or computer. Long gone are the days of wholesome shows like “Full House,” which have been replaced by programs with more corruption and less clothing.

I can’t lie. I’m a diehard “Gossip Girl” fan, a show that isn’t exactly known for its morality. However, when does too much become, well, too much? I am a firm believer in the First Amendment…but still. Television guidelines and ratings were made for a reason: to protect the youth of America from being corrupted by media like television programs, music and movies. However, when five-year-old children dress up as Snooki from “Jersey Shore” for Halloween, someone’s obviously not doing their job.


The new MTV show “Skins” premiered to an audience of 3.3 million viewers on January 17. However, due to obvious underage drinking, drug use and nudity, the show lost over six of its key advertisers and half of its audience by the second episode. Organizations fighting to keep the youth of America away from controversial media like “Skins” have threatened to file lawsuits claiming the show promotes child pornography.  Losing advertisers and viewers daily, “Skins” could quite possibly be the first of many controversial new television shows to be pulled off the air.

Whether teens are flipping through magazines, websites or television channels, not-so-wholesome media is easy to find. As a sixteen-year-old, I’m not complaining for myself or for my peers. I love “Gossip Girl,” I love Ke$ha, and I love “Vanity Fair.” However, what I don’t love is babysitting for eleven-year-olds who, surprisingly, love these things too. What has America come too when my five-year-old cousin knows every word to “Tik Tok” and knows all the characters on “Jersey Shore”? Is this how things have always been? Have music, television and movie ratings become more lenient? Or has every single aspect of our media become vulgar?

     In 2006, to please parent organizations, President Bush passed a law that increased fines for television and radio stations that violated decency standards. The United States’ Federal Communications Commission basically states that “obscene” material is prohibited at all times, and “indecent” material cannot be broadcasted from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. These rules sound good, right? Wrong. Wanna know what these seemingly adequate laws are missing? They don’t apply to cable channels. That means MTV, E!, Bravo and hundreds of other channels don’t have to follow the same guidelines. They can get away with more. Good for us teenagers, bad for our younger siblings.

As time has passed, television guidelines have gotten more and more lenient. On “I Love Lucy” in the 1950’s, CBS was not allowed to say the word “pregnant"; they had to say “expecting.” Things have obviously come a long way since then, and I think in some ways it’s a good thing that our country has progressed. But young teenagers are easily influenced by what their favorite characters are doing. They see their idols drinking alcohol, attending lavish parties or even using drugs and suddenly they want to do these things, too. I’m not saying all illegal underage activity is due to media, but I’m willing to bet at least some is.

There are still shows that offer a glimmer of hope to teenagers. Okay, maybe I’ll get a little grief over this, but one of them is Degrassi. This show, a show that’s been around since 1982, does have all the things I’ve been griping about: sex, drugs, alcohol. But what this show does is explore the consequences of these actions. Drug overdose, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and other countless negative situations are shown. This show teaches kids lessons, while shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Skins” do not. The funny thing is Degrassi isn’t an American show because it’s made in Canada.
 
I’m not sure there’s an obvious solution to my problem. I don’t think we should cancel all programs that contain one ounce of controversy. I don’t think keeping teenagers ignorant is a practical way to live. However, I think stricter guidelines should be enforced for cable television stations to protect our youth.

 


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