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The Real Cost of An Ad

by Gene Shelburne

I think it was just a coincidence. I don’t see any sinister conspiracy behind the timing. But it was soberingly appropriate. My youth minister friend in Indiana picked the week when “Skins” premiered on TV to query an Internet group of colleagues about what they are doing to save their people from the growing tsunami of improper sex.


Movies and television shows seem to be getting raunchier season by season. My godly grandparents would be absolutely aghast to see what most families accept as normal entertainment in their homes almost every night. And then we wonder why teen pregnancy and STD rates are soaring in our nation.

For those of us who are prone to despair because of the trend to immerse our society in sex, the nationwide outrage provoked by “Skins” was heartening. The storm of protests by scandalized viewers caused Taco Bell to yank their advertising dollars from the show the next day, followed closely by G.M. and then Wrigley products.


Parents Television Council (PTC) launched a barrage of Internet alerts warning Christian parents about this new show which, in their opinion, glorified teen drug and alcohol use while flagrantly flouting sexual morals. PTC called on Christian viewers to express their disgust to a long list of “Skins” advertisers. One company on that list, H & R Block, quickly made it clear that their ad ran in that slot inadvertently. They assured upset customers that “Skins” would never receive their advertising dollars again. By now other companies on the list of “Skins” advertisers likely have joined the exodus. These included Schick Hydro, L’Oréal, Subway, Foot Locker, and both Orbit and Extra chewing gum.


Unfazed by the immediate outburst of complaints to their advertisers, spokespersons for MTV thumbed their noses at Christian viewers. They said, “We are confident ‘Skins’ will continue to connect with the audience it was created for.” According to those unfortunate enough to see the earliest episodes of the show, that intended audience must have been drug-using, indecent, morally challenged pedophiles and porn addicts. My youth minister friend was concerned about a tragically real threat to all Christian fellowships. With nightly fare like “Skins” coming into our homes, what can we do to keep our hearts, minds, and bodies pure

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33