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Could MTV's 'Skins' Be Considered Child Pornography?

by Jean Bentley, posted Jan 20th 2011 4:00PM
Skins, MTVUsually after the Parents Television Council decries something as scandalous, the fervor dies down after a few days. That's not the case with MTV's controversial new series 'Skins,' about a group of hard-partying, drug-taking, sexually active teenagers -- this time, the outcry has caused network executives to take a second look at the in-your-face show.

According to the New York Times, MTV higher-ups have ordered producers to tame down future episodes of the show, which is based on a similarly boundary-pushing U.K. series of the same name, for fear of violating federal child pornography laws. A source told the paper that on Tuesday, "a flurry of meetings took place" during which executives discussed the possibility of facing criminal charges if especially racy episodes were shown without editing.

The episode execs are supposedly most concerned about is the third, scheduled to air Jan. 31. A storyline involves one teen character taking erectile dysfunction medication, and the 17-year-old actor is shown from behind running naked down the street.

The Times describes child pornography as "any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In some cases, 'a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive,' according to the Justice Department's legal guidance."

In this case the nudity is shown in a completely non-sexual manner. But other scenes show the young cast -- all but one are teenagers, and most are under 18 -- engaging in very sexual behavior.

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Tags: Skins Ep. 101: Tony, MTV


So, can 'Skins' be considered child pornography? Even if the offending scenes are censored, can MTV get in trouble for shooting the footage in the first place? What about people who have already seen early edits of the episode in question?

New York University law professor Amy M. Adler told the Times that the concern wasn't completely out of left field. "There are times when I look at mainstream culture and think it is skirting up against the edge of child pornography law."

MTV's marketing campaign for 'Skins' has focused on the edginess of the show, making sure to emphasize how very Real it all is. It's the advertising the PTC objected to, calling 'Skins' "the most dangerous show for teens." This afternoon, Deadline Hollywood reported that the PTC called for a federal investigation into the show for child pornography.

Backlash has already begun -- according to The Hollywood Reporter, Taco Bell has pulled its ads from the program. "Upon further review, we've decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming," said spokesman Rob Poetsch.

When TV Squad spoke with the cast last week, star Danny Flaherty, a 17-year-old high schooler from New Jersey who plays slacker Stanley (not the subject of the aforementioned nudity), said the series could provide some real lessons for teens and parents alike. "It would even be a great conversation opener," Flaherty said.

Hear more of the cast's thoughts on the PTC's initial claims below.

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Clayman

This is just funny. Not only are there places in America where 16 is the legal age of consent. The worldwide average age of consent is 16. Then you have places like Japan that the age of consent is 13 and yet they are also the nation that has the least amount of sex in the world. Nothing in that show is considered as child porn under the law of most of the world.

January 25 2012 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Catherine Wolfe

There are places where 16 is the legal age to participate in sexual acts, in the United States. It really depends on where Skins is being filmed.

June 08 2011 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jake Boone

Phillip. I thank you. I never expected to see a rational string of words put together on this matter other than my own. You hit the head on the nail. These people keep missing the point. MTV knows they ****** up. The execs have come out said that they need to rethink what they are doing with this show because they are facing these charges. It's amazing the kind of power that networks and shows like this have over people even young adults who should know better. They will defend it to the death. It's funny MTV was never really a problem when it was exactly what it was called Music Television. I'm surprised they still call it that. You would think with the power that network has it would use it for something with purpose. I guess that's asking too much. I wish they would put a show on TV, I don't care what network, with someone trying to pay their bills while working a decent job. Not great but not flipping burgers. This person can go on day to day always feeling like they are worth more than they are getting paid, they probably are, and the boss doesn't think so because ..hey... it's cheaper to pay him just enough and get all the extra work out of him for free because unemployment is so high he can't quit. Then he can try to have an operation that his insurance wont cover, even though he pays into it every check, because it's experimental, but it will save his life. Oh maybe he has wife and small child and their driving home at night. When some ******* idiot who thinks he owns the road, probably likes to watch ****** shows like skins, jockeys for position on the freeway causing an accident killing him and his wife and kid but since he is a football player at some university he gets a slap on the wrist and can't play football anymore. That's reality ...not stupid ******* shows that idiots eat up and say. " oh that's how it is their just portraying what really goes on... it happens all the time". It's doesn't but congratulations your an idiot for defending it. Your parents must be proud that you grew up to not know the difference between responsible programming meant for entertainment and programs that do more harm than good.

February 04 2011 at 3:10 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Philiip

I think a lot of you are missing the point. It is not that teens don't partake in sexual activities, or lie, or cheat, or do drugs. Some do, some don't. The lawsuit is saying that these kids, who are under 18 and are considered minors, can not be displayed in such a manner -- "any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In some cases, 'a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive,' according to the Justice Department's legal guidance.

The reason we have these laws are so perverts who are older do not take advantage of younger individuals to exploit them sexually, even if the minor has given them permission.

If a weird 50 year old man was taping his own episode of "Skins" in his basement, would you be all about his right to do so? Since it technically isn't showing penetration? Just because it is MTV, a company trying to make money, doesn't make it professional.

Also, it is not parents saying this is bad for their kids to watch. The lawsuit is to protect children from being sexually exploited on film so old, child-molesters don't watch these episodes, which will just feed into their unhealthy obsession with being involved sexually with someone underaged. The parents should be involved in their children's choice in watching television programs, BUT this is technically not what the lawsuit is about.

You'll actually see in the lawsuit that they are even going after film that was not shown on TV, because again, it has nothing to do with parents being uptight about what their kids are watching. It is a LAW that you can not tape underage individuals (under 18) in certain sexually suggestive situations. Which, some of the cut footage did contain nudity and sexual scenes.

February 02 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Philiip's comment
gobluespartyon

You're a prude Philiip that doesn't know the laws DOJ hasn't said anything and they should take PTC serously since they lie about shows and Skins isn't child porn which is out right lie so your supporting a lie and everything you have said is baseless.

February 02 2011 at 4:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Timothy Rubalcaba

has on it's network, so if you know that and still allow your child to watch MTV, at least without parental advisory, then why don't you stop to think about how bad of a parent you are...and evaluate how your not doing your job as a parent??? Because it's easier to just lame the media that's why...Look the fact that MTV censors anything is nice on their part...fact is that you must pay to receive MTV and they really do not have to sensor anything if they really do not want to! They are not like your local television station or free fm radio where they are forced to censor anything! They do it because they know they can have more viewers if they do...To back that up, the show blue mountain state on spike shows all kinds of drugs use, sex, violence, and doesn't bleep words like sh** and p***y....or take comedy central on late nights, they show fully uncensored raw versions of movies and stand up specials, just the way you'd see it in the theaters, so don't think that they must censor anything!!! the fact is, they don't have to if they don't want to...deal with it!

February 02 2011 at 3:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Timothy Rubalcaba

Seriously, let me just first begin by saying that no matter what people say, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that we should all respect each others views. With that being said, I think that 'skins' is a great show that is just that...A SHOW! This is not real and should not be viewed as such. So coming to this whole, child pornography stipulation. IT IS NOT CHILD PORNOGRAPHY! There are actually movies out, in the United States, where children are naked on them but are never shown in the derogatory manner 'pornography' depicts. It's like when you watch movies about people having children or child birth scenes where the baby comes out, the baby is under the age of 18, yet we don't complain about it being pornography because it's what it is. The fact is, these scenes in question never show any genitalia, nor do they show any sexual penetration of any matter. What they do is convince the audience, that these teens are about to commit a sexual act. How are you going to buy into it if they don't at least LOOK naked. I'm sorry but no matter what you want to say, teens do what you see on this show all the time. We all know that because well...let's face it, we've all done it!!!!! If you say you didn't...well your a liar! The answer to this is real obvious, you don't like it, don't watch it! every television now comes equipped with a parental control. Instead of bitching about it on the internet, why don't parents live up to their title, and do some damn PARENTING! I hate how people are so quick to say "this movies too violent" or "these lyrics are too sexual" or "this video game is awful" well then GET OFF YOUR ASS AND CENSOR!!!! Fact is I don't see anyone bitching about Teen Mom where MTV basically glorifies young teens having children! Isn't that pornography then too? These underage women and men committed sexual penetration and have proof of committing it, so why aren't we coming down on them????? We as a society really need to learn the difference between fact and fiction, real vs fake. skins...fake, teen mom...real! If you want to blame MTV for what they show on their network, why don't you, the parents...stop and look at yourselves! Come on we all know the kind of stuff MTV

February 02 2011 at 3:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jake Boone

sorry "real"

January 31 2011 at 2:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Jake Boone

The whole point of my rant is not turn a blind eye to the fact that a small percentage of kids behave this way but that It is just a tv show and not real. Nor does it resemble anything realistic whatsoever. MTV is marketing it as "reel lives of american teens". Garbage. My problem isn't teens being idiots but people eating this garbage up and calling it real.

January 31 2011 at 2:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
cavatresmal

brooke shields. bath tub.

January 31 2011 at 12:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cavatresmal's comment
Catherine Wolfe

Thank you. THANK YOU.

June 08 2011 at 11:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello, My Name Is...

Oh, darn, I spelled "tragedies" wrong.

January 29 2011 at 5:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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