Students Sound Off on ‘Skins’

MTV’s “Skins” premiered just two weeks ago, but the sex-fuelled drama has left viewers’ (and advertisers’) heads still spinning.

The premiere opens with the uplifting electronic-harmonic intro from Animal Collective’s “My Girls,” as the teenage main character Tony harasses his father by playing loud music in an effort to distract him while his younger sister, Eura, hiding outside after being out all night partying, attempts to sneak back into the house.

The show continues to revolve around one of the characters, Stanley, who lands a drug deal on credit from a pimp in his 50s while in the pursuit of losing his virginity at a party — his plan being to get the girl drugged up. Scenes of teenagers smoking pot, stealing cars, drinking alcohol and partying litter the episode.

“Skins” is based off a successful British series; its name comes from the British slang for “rolling papers.” The show tries hard at being edgy and alternative, but goes too far, to where the show lacks realistic quality. Separating the entertainment from reality is not difficult for adults, but what about the people the show is targeting? Do young people glorify this kind of behavior?

Media influence on youth behavior is definitely not a new issue. Studies have linked media influences on teens from everything to violence to eating disorders to sexuality. But it seems as though television only continues to become more provocative.

“I thought the show didn’t accurately show how teenagers really act, their terms for things, to how they acted, it was just so out there,” says ASU junior Sarah Reed.

Madison Curtis, another junior, watched the show’s premiere: “I thought the show was a bit exaggerated for 16 year olds,” she says.

As disturbing or ridiculous as the show may seem, could it be the voice of a new generation? Exploration of sex, drugs, love and friendship seem to be prominent factors in the teenage experience. With other shows like “Teen Mom,” “Celebrity Rehab” and “Jersey Shore,” it seems as though these once-avoided topics are becoming more comfortable. With every generation pushing “the line” to fit what change has brought, “Skins” begs the question of what will happen next.

Do media reflect the voice of youth? Or does youth find its voice through the media? Many ASU students feel they’re being influence by the media, from the things they think are cool to what they wear.

“From how teens interact with each other, what they think is cool, the language they pick-up to their body language,” says junior Matt Walder. “Media influences all of this.”

“I remember starting to smoke when I was a teen, and seeing kids on TV that did it made me feel like it was OK,” Curtis says.

“The whole idea that you can’t hang out with your parents in high school, or that you have to go out on Friday and Saturday night, all of that is created mostly from media,” says Dani Sohl, senior.

The show may be a single-season fad, or it could be the beginning of another groundbreaking media movement that startles and upsets everyone except the kids whom it speaks too.

Reach the reporter at alsavage@asu.edu