It’s been a while since I’ve spent a lot of time with you. I’ll be turning 50 this year, so I’m hardly in your intended demographic. But I’m definitely part of the MTV generation as I tuned in during your infant years.
I still have a crush on Martha Quinn, recall the debut of the Thriller video, remember when Adam Sandler was an extra feature on “Remote Control,” and cherish the memory of watching Live Aid. You were a part of my daily life back then and I’m sure you’re still part of millions of lives today. That’s why I’m back for this chat.
Your network has a direct impact on pop culture and influences many young lives. Your programming has changed, but I know that today’s shows have as much punch as those from my college days. Many of the shows now are reality based…some more serious than others. I believe one of your most successful shows is “Jersey Shore.”
Frankly, that show isn’t really to my tastes, but I know of many people who enjoy it. I can appreciate that while the people on that show are real, there escapades are cartoonish, thus the entertainment factor. And yet, even in the ridiculous scenarios in which these young adults participate, what they do has some influence on your audience. Whether it’s their fashion, their partying life, their language, or their tendency to get into trouble, there are young viewers who see the Jersey Shore cast as role models and copy their actions. I know that I copied the styles seen on MTV from the 80’s (sometimes regrettably so). There is one Jersey Shore “tradition” however towards which I think MTV should post disclaimers. That involves the cast’s seemingly addictive behavior towards tanning.
Many states across the country are adopting tanning bed bans for minors. California led the way and others are following close behind. The main reason is that use of tanning beds significantly increases one’s chance of being diagnosed with melanoma. Melanoma is not “just skin cancer,” it’s one of the most aggressive and invasive cancers there is. One person every hour dies from this disease. And what may be shocking to you is that melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old. This is EXACTLY your demographic!
I’m not asking for you to cancel “Jersey Shore” or even censor the show. What I’d like to see is the occasional public service announcement regarding sun safety. You were responsible for encouraging America’s youthful population to “Rock the Vote” back in the ‘80’s…I would love to see you spearhead a similar campaign to protect one’s skin.
Please Google “Dear 16 Year Old Me” and you’ll see the benchmark of melanoma PSAs. I wouldn’t expect you to churn out anything as long as this one, but just a simple yet hip notice that sun safety should be taken seriously. I know far too many younger people that have suffered greatly from melanoma…all you have to do is check the blog-o-sphere. I’m sure one of them would be happy to share her story.
As for Jersey Shore, I hope it continues to be a big ratings hit for you. Eventually, you’ll come up with another new show to be the next big thing, and the Jersey Shore cast will begin to fade away. I can only hope that their tans would fade a bit first.
Black is the New Pink