Monday, 19 July 2010

Skins and Misfits and drugs and sex and...

The recent acquisition of a Freeview set-top box has fuelled my addiction to frequent programme hopping. I live alone; it’s my television and I’ll watch what I want to.
It was bad enough with just five channels but now there are so many more, I can’t watch a show for 10 minutes and, however much I’m enjoying it, I’ll flick through the EPG to see if there’s anything better.
This is my convoluted and probably embarrassed explanation of why I should have dipped into recent episodes of teen dramas Skins and Misfits. I’ve no idea who the characters are or the plotlines. But both depict young people engaging in copious drug taking, binge drinking, swearing, and sex.
Here again I don’t know whether this is an accurate reflection of the extracurricular enthusiasms of today’s teenagers or a cynical attempt by the programme makers to grab ratings.
I accept the first duty of the writers of both shows is to entertain but there is one aspect of the excess that does bother me – there is no fumbling for the condoms before the couples launch themselves at each other.
There may have been earlier storylines where STDs and pregnancy/abortion are featured, as there have been in a number of movies.
But moving on to a more general point, when sexual encounters are depicted on television or film – however graphic – it is most often of the unprotected variety. The next morning the couple may be enjoying post-coital bliss or regret but never seem concerned they may have been infected by an STD or started a new life.
I put this risk on a much higher plane than the potential damage of booze and drugs or the offence caused by swearing.
I don’t expect programme makers to act like unofficial government information providers nor would I even support self-censorship. But I would hate to think that I might, even in a small way, have contributed to a young person suffering the consequences of unprotected sex because condom use didn’t feature in my shows he or she was watching.

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