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Television’s Obsession with Teens and Sex

April 15, 2011


E.D. Armstrong

Is it just me or has the powers that be become overly obsessed with the sex lives of teenagers today? Apparently today’s youth have nothing better to do than to have tons of random sex, use drugs, and occasionally actual listen to their parents, just kidding, they never listen. Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘these shows are just talking about what’s actually going on” and in most cases this could possibly be correct. I am not faulting the networks for necessarily telling lies; I am however faulting them for glamorizing real issues for the sake of ratings. It’s almost as if we don’t have enough shows currently who’s theme is promiscuous sex with shows like Cougar Town, Californication, Hung, How I met your Mother, Big Bang theory, or Two and a Half men, but the powers that be decided to take adult themes and focus them on high school kids! Yea, Yea I know that in most cases the actors are all at least 19 or early 20’s for the most parts, but the shows are geared to teens and the stars are presenting themselves as teens in the process.  Before you go out and declare these shows as a type of cautionary tale let’s face the fact that these are not some after school specials documenting the real life issues that our children face, no these shows are produced with the sole purpose of exploiting sex as a marketing tool to get both teens and adults alike to tune in each week. In case nobody is paying attention there is this entire industry called porn that have adult actresses dress up like little girls and perform in sexual explicit scenes, and while people will consider this a different matter (with the whole non-simulated sex and all) it is no different than TV shows portraying adults and teens engaging in sexual relationships. I actually came across a countdown site one day that was counting down the days left until a certain actress would become old enough to legally do nude scenes in movies! I was thinking to myself really! If we as a society can understand that there is something wrong with an adult that has a desire to fixate on the young and have sexual urges that make them target young people then why do we view what TV does as something different? Let’s name a few programs:

  • Degrassi
  • Gigantic
  • The Secret Life of an American Teenager
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Glee
  • Gossip Girl
  • Life Unexpected
  • One Tree hill
  • 90210
  • Skins
  • Teen mom

These are just a few of the current shows out there that are centered on teen characters that focus on sex and other adult themed issues. What is even more disturbing about the practices of TV and there use of images of teens and sex is how casual it is presented to the public and the fact that many of these shows pass themselves off as comedies at times only further illustrate how desensitized we have become as a society to real life issues that are currently affecting our teens. My concern as a parent who has teens is that there is no middle ground alternative for teens these days. The ideal of” keeping it real” and telling stories that are happening to teens sometimes neglects to realize that while some kids are doing drugs, sleeping around with other teens and even sleeping with adults, other teens are not doing this things. I watch shows like the Suite life on Deck, or Good Luck Charlie with my kids and I understand the overall silliness of these programs, but can we find a medium between the just for fun safe nature of the Suite Life and the over-the-top sex-fest programming that seem to be fueled by the “everybody’s doing it” approach?

I have a 12 year old daughter that still covers her face while watching animated characters kiss in a Disney picture, but instead of considering this gesture on her part as typical behavior for a typical girl her age our current society would consider her cute shyness about these matters as a sign that she is somehow maladjusted to our current societies average teen who is routinely saturated in images of teens, sex and drugs before they are even 16 years old! I can understand that most people in our current society would consider my daughter’s actions at the age of 12 a bit out of step with today’s pre-teens. What would you expect when we have the likes of Miley Cyrus making appearances in the adult themed film Sex and The City 2 at the age of 16! She had professed to be a big fan of the adult themed HBO series in an interview and when I read it I’m thinking to myself this show ran from 1998-2004, she was age 6-12 when this show was actually on TV, and not even legally old enough to go the two movies without dad Billy Ray, but she was going to make a cameo in the movie! This is exactly what society needs Disney’s Hannah Montana teaming up with the 40’s aged girls from Sex and the City! Was Jamie Foxx really out of line when he joked about expecting a Cyrus Sex tape at the time?

We are so desensitized as a society to the concept of teens and sex that real life circumstances don’t even shock us anymore? It is so normal today to see female teachers being arrested for having sex with their students that judges don’t even give these women any serious time, one judge even called it a victimless crime! There is a website that lists all the arrested female teachers and I found out that this list is four times as long as it was when I first discovered it a few years ago! Not only are many new cases happening, but old stories are being discovered and added to the list. In light of this real life situation what does our entertainment industry do? They oh course make it a weekly theme on a drama series or a comedy sitcom! Can you blame them? You know what they say, pedophilia sells!

I have become so disappointed in the last few sets of teen stars that transition from Disney to adult stars because they have really went over the top. Brittany Spear her sister Jamie Lyn, Lindsay Lohan, Adrienne Bailon, Vanessa Huggins, Miley Cyrus and Anne Hathaway who went from being a Princes Diary star to being left stranded on Brokeback Mountain naked, and she hasn’t been able to keep her cloths on for many roles since! Who knew that behind every Disney starlet there is a stripper that just can’t wait to take their clothes off for stardom? My attempt at humor is only my way of trying to process the state of affairs currently that shows these young girls that this is the way to stardom. I applaud any young girl that can remain so and still blush when they are asked a question about kissing a boy, or cover their eyes still at kissing scenes in the movies. I read a story recently that stated that Princes movies are gonna be done away with after the latest Tangled film due to what an executive called a turn in appeal due to little girls not wanting to be princesses anymore? I said to myself they need to talk to my daughter and find out what this 12 year old is interested in. my daughter was a fan of Hannah Montana until as my daughter put it in her own words Miley Cyrus lost her mind and turned into a walking tabloid! (OK, the tabloid part was mine, but the rest was my daughter!) My daughter has plans to become a chef, a dancer (tap, ballet) she wants to get her black belt in Taekwondo, and Bushido Karate (both styles she trains in) she also wants to be a magician, and she enjoys bird watching. She enjoys all of these things and still manages to have time to like being a princess at the age of 12. I figure that I have a chance as long as I can keep her out of Hollywood!

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