A new MTV reality series will follow the lives of virgins who are 18 years or older, some of whom are attempting to remain chaste, while others are, according to the show’s website, “desperately trying to lose it.”
Obviously, nothing is sacred to MTV. We knew that from their previous shows, like "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom." And no network has done more to sever the psychology of young people from real thoughts and feelings, via the early “reality” series "The Real World"—which consisted of people acting for cameras while insisting they really lived that way.
But now, the network is willing to profit even from turning the first sexual experiences of individuals into events that approximate prostitution. Sure, none of the lovers of these virgins are paying customers, but MTV is almost certainly paying them and profiting from allowing viewers to watch.
It should go without saying that the struggle to decide whether and with whom to have a sexual relationship is an emotional one, and for many people, a religious one. Women and men have both shared with me feelings of regret or feelings of contentment about their first sexual experiences – even decades later. And that’s why MTV invading that psychological space and time for people is potentially injurious to them (by adding the desire for fame to the mix).
But it is also potentially injurious to the million or so viewers who might tune in and unconsciously sculpt their first experiences into hyperbolic, media-friendly versions of real life that aren’t real at all.
That’s the main point here. MTV won’t be capturing real people struggling with the real decision of whether or not to have sex for the first time. The presence of their producers, cameras and contracts will, by definition, transform the people in this series into actors, making their intimate thoughts, feelings and acts into entertainment.
And, for that, every person involved with the series should be seen as a corrupting influence on those involved and on viewers tuning in. Not one of them is better than a pimp on a street corner urging a young girl to “do it for the camera” while he watches.
The moral depths to which entertainment entrepreneurs will sink in this country to get people to gawk at their products and turn a profit is morally repugnant, and these shows ultimately misrepresent what America stands for.
I would pose this question to MTV’s executives: Would you cast your own son or daughter in a series that eavesdrops on his or decision to have sex for the first time? Sadly, I fear that the answer might be that many of those executives would be okay brokering out their children, as long as there was notoriety and a paycheck in the bargain.
And that’s profoundly sad – for them, for their children and ultimately, for the rest of our kids who could be contaminated by their moral failings.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.