The TV screen flashes a scene of an attractive young woman in a slinky slip of a nightie beguiling a young man into bed. In the next scene, the young man and his friend talk moodily over a joint, and later still, friends drown their sorrows in the concoctions of a hotel bar.
This may sound like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Sex and the City, but those shows are for grown-ups. This is Gossip Girl, and the characters are mere kids, none older than about 17.
As a college student, I find parallels between Gossip Girl, a new primetime soap revolving around New York’s ultra-privileged teen set, and my own life. This is the real world. People do have sex. They do experiment with marijuana and other drugs, and they do get drunk, even before the magical age of 21.
This show isn’t really for me, though; it’s for my little sister - who still hasn’t gone on her first date yet. This show is telling 14-year-olds what they have to look forward to in just a few more years: regret- and consequence-free promiscuity, substance abuse, and open bars.
Can we really blame the networks, though? After all, they’re only filling a market niche. It would seem, then, it’s not the shows that convince the preteen set this behavior is acceptable, but rather a culprit much closer to home.
Parents often complain that their children are being fed a constant media diet of smut, and then they watch movies that make anything on primetime look like Sesame Street. That’s fine, as long as the parents recognize the mixed message they’re sending to the impressionable younger generation. Kids will always be chomping at the bit to grow up, and they’ll do anything to prove their maturity.