Photo Credit: CW
Ancient news flash: Gossip Girl (a show about teens, for teens) is no friend to parents of teens. From day one, life in GG's fast lane has featured every conceivable dumb mistake that a young person can make -- from casual, underage sex and drug use to out-of-control shopping sprees.
The latest GG news? In the Nov. 9 episode, some of the characters that your teens know and love will engage in three-way sex. Yes, parents, sweeps week has arrived. So…
What's that? You say your 12-year-old doesn't watch the show, so who cares? Not so fast, honey. News of this plot point has generated so much publicity that even non-fans will probably hear about it. All it takes is one girl in 7th-grade gym class to upload it onto her iphone, and voila…Your preteen just got a free sex-ed lesson -- and it's the type of sex usually featured in porn films.
Of course, it's GG's prerogative (some might say their purpose) to push the moral envelope. What can parents do -- write a strongly worded letter? Seize this teachable moment, and ask the producers whether they're making a wise choice? Well, yes. The Parents Television Council has done just that, urging CW affiliates not to air the episode.
Here's their reasoning: "When television portrays attractive, popular teenage characters as sexually active, it sends a powerful message to young viewers that they, too, should be sexually active and in fact, there might be something wrong with them if they aren't…Gossip Girl routinely depicts teenage characters engaging in consequence-free sexual behavior, and that's bad enough. But will you now be complicit in establishing a precedent and expectation that teenagers should engage in behaviors heretofore associated primarily with adult films?"
I know that there are people firmly entrenched on the other side of this debate, and I can hear the snarky comments already. "The show is a satire. Its viewers are intelligent enough to realize this. They're not going to go out and make the same bad choices."
That might be true. Gossip Girl viewers may be too smart to let their favorite characters' behavior affect them. But don't young people have enough peer pressure urging them to be promiscuous? Do they really need more reminders to have sex, even satirical ones? This past July, the CDC announced in a press release that birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. And that teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half. And that the number of AIDS cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.
The Parents Television Council is trying to draw a line in the sand here, but the anything-goes mores of our mass culture is one powerful wave. OK, so it's just a strongly worded letter. And yes, GG will just use the criticism as a marketing strategy. But not writing the letter would be worse. It would be like watching the wave wash over our kids, without even trying to pull them back onto dry land.
Do you think it's wrong for Gossip Girl to feature a threesome? Will you let your kids watch? Chime in below!