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For teens, MTV's 'Skins' offers allure of the forbidden

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The eyes widened. The mouths gaped.

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Oh no. I could hear their brains Googling the show.

Bingo, MTV, you got yourself more viewers. The allure of the forbidden.

So on Monday, I continued my quest to find some kids who'd actually seen the show. This time I headed to a different Mall, to the March for Life, which should actually be renamed the National Parochial School D.C. Field Trip. At this event, Catholic schools from all over the region bus in their students for an annual antiabortion march on the Capitol.

They were everywhere, eating burgers on H Street, doing cartwheels on the Mall, singing haunting, beautiful hymns while texting. Thousands upon thousands of teens, many wearing color-coded shirts or scarves or hats identifying their school.

Could I possibly find anyone who'd watched one of television's nastiest shows here, among the kids who swayed, prayed and chanted "We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?"

"'Skins'!!!" bellowed a 16-year-old sophomore from Bishop Ireton High School, fist-pumping both arms in the air, as though he were at FedEx Field, when I asked him whether he'd heard of it.

"I love 'Skins'!" he exclaimed. He was wearing a hat with teddy bear ears to match his grizzly bear stature. "I think the show is true. That's what's great about it. It shows reality. What's really going on out there with teens."

He was cut off by a 15-year-old classmate. "The British version is way better. I watched all of them," the classmate declared with the authority of a film critic. "This one just doesn't compare."

Their parents let them watch it. And none of them said the show makes them want to go out and do drugs and have sex.

"It actually makes them look kinda bad, doing that stuff," said a 17-year-old senior from T.C. Williams High School.

"It's really raunchy. It really gives a terrible impression of women. That we're all sluts and stuff," said Jacquelyne Santiago, 18, a freshman at Catholic University.

"It totally devalues sex," said Andrew St. Hilaire, also an 18-year-old freshman at Catholic.

Everyone I talked to at the national Mall had something to say about the show. And everyone I talked to at the shopping mall didn't.

In this case, art seems to be imitating life. Real kids are not rewriting their plans according to MTV's rehashed script.

Apparently, that move belongs to Taco Bell, Wrigley, GM and all the other advertisers who are making other choices.


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