For creating a horrific serial-killer program – and rating it appropriate for kids -- the January 12th
premiere episode of MTV’s Eye Candy
is the Worst Cable TV Show of the Week.
Having long abandoned its origins as “Music Television,” in recent years MTV has followed a disturbing business model: find the most extreme content playing on adult channels, then create a rip-off of it deliberately targeted at kids and young teens. In June 2009, HBO debuted the series Hung
, about a man with a large sex organ; a year later, MTV followed with its rip-off The Hard Times of RJ Berger
, a show with the identical concept – save that the protagonist was a teenage boy. Similarly, the HBO series Sex and the City
, about a gaggle of promiscuous women who talk about nothing but sex, can be seen as a clear forerunner of MTV’s Awkward
, another series in which females do nothing but talk about and obsess over sex, this one set in a high school.
And now, MTV has ripped off such programs as Dexter, Stalker, Hannibal
, and The Following
by giving teens their own horrific serial killer program, complete with graphic blood, murder, and sadism…spiced with enough trendy scenes of clubbing, dancing, and drinking to make the show more appealing to the Jersey Shore
The first episode opened with the delightful, upbeat sight of a teenage girl being kidnapped. Picking up her kid sister Sara, the series’ protagonist Lindy chastises the teen:
Lindy: “You’ve been gone for three days, Sara.”
Sara: “What the hell do you care?”
Lindy: “Because the douche bags you're hanging out with are brothers of the douche bags that I grew up with, and they're not good guys.”
Sara: “Doesn’t make them the same people.”
Lindy: “You’re just 16.”
Sara: “Yeah. And Dad’s so hooked up on sedatives he doesn’t even know what day it is. I think I can look after myself…You’re my sister, not my parent. Or my therapist.”
Lindy pulls up to the drive-thru window of a fast-food place, while Sara gets out of the car to use the restroom. While she waits for Lindy to pull forward, a van pulls up behind her. As Lindy watches in horror, a hooded figure grabs Sara from behind. Sara struggles and screams as the figure pulls her into a van. Lindy screams and tries to get out of her car, but both doors are blocked in the narrow lane. She finally squeezes out, falls onto the pavement, then crawls over the top of the cars ahead of her, but she’s too late. The van nearly runs Lindy over and then drives off, kidnapping her sister.
Three years later, Lindy is paying the bills by working as an IT rep for an investment banking firm, Lindy has started a website, Never 4Gotten Group, through which she helps track down missing and abducted children. She promises to help a mother whose daughter, Julia Becker, has disappeared.
In a point-of-view perspective, we see Julia welcoming someone into her apartment, then hear a creepy voice-over by the stalker:
Stalker: “You are SO hot! There’s something wrong with your face. What is it?"
A close-up shows Julia’s teeth.
Stalker: “Crooked. They’re crooked! Why didn’t you tell me that? You did it on purpose! They’re all liars, playing their online games. Filthy crooked teeth. Poor girl. I’m going have to kill you!”
Julia screams. A P.O.V. perspective is shown of the killer slashing Julia’s throat with a knife, while flashes are intercut showing Julia’s slashed, broken, bloody corpse. Pictures are shown various parts of women’s body. Eyes are labeled with, “Liar,”“Worthless,” and “Disappointing,” teeth, “Filthy,” and cleavage, “Fake.” The show’s killer narrates:
Stalker: “Human life. So delicate. So fragile. Easy to extinguish. I look for the freshest, the juiciest, the most tender USDA prime, grade-A, low-fat ultra-lean. [Yeah, okay, people=meat. We get it.
] The one. Used to be, I had to go outside to find them. Not anymore. The Internet: God’s gift to psychopaths. Are any of them real? I need someone real. Someone who understands. Why do they lie? They’ll pay. One by one.”
The killer’s sentiments are punctuated by a scene of little kids playing soccer, and finding Julia’s broken, battered, bloody corpse under a bridge.
Meanwhile, Lindy meets up with her parole officer, Ben. He tells her, “You can hide behind being a hacker. White knight. Cyber-vigilante. Justify it any way you want, but you still broke the law. Look, I know you were trying to find your sister, but if you'd followed through with that job, those people, you'd have gotten a hell of a lot more than six months parole.”
Freed of her monitoring bracelet, Lindy meets up with her bartender friend Sophia, and they discuss Lindy’s past affair with Ben. To help her get over it, Sophia sets Lindy up on a dating app with the nickname “Eye Candy.” Sophia and her friend Connor scan through the pictures of the men on the app, judging and rejecting 90% of them based on their online pictures alone.
Interestingly, Eye Candy
– which portrays the internet as a dangerous place rife with cyber-stalkers -- simultaneously and completely without irony sanctions the use of the internet to reject people based solely on their appearance. So basically, the show’s message is: when a creepy stalker judges people on their looks, it’s the essence of evil; but when MTV-approved ATTRACTIVE people do it, it’s totally legitimate and not a bad thing at all.
Anyway, Lindy suspects than one of the three guys she met via the app is a stalker, so while meeting each one again for a date, she installs software on their phone that lets her stalk them and monitor their every move. (Again, if a stalker does this, he’s bad, but when Lindy does it, it’s totally acceptable.) One of the dates, Peter, takes Lindy’s phone by accident. Lindy finds his corpse seated on a park bench, his throat slashed and blood gorily soaking his entire shirt, with Lindy’s phone stuffed in his mouth. Thus, as a result of Lindy’s own cyber-stalking, she is responsible for an innocent man’s death. But of course, the show doesn’t dwell on that, or on the fact that she uses the exact same methods as the killer in stalking people.
After getting a poor innocent killed through her cyber-hacking activities, Lindy meets with Ben and his police pal Detective Callion (neither of whom express the slightest interest in the fact that Lindy has broken her parole conditions by using a computer, illegally hacked phones and websites, and indirectly abetted a murder). Ben accompanies her back to her apartment and takes a shower. Emerging, he finds Lindy gone. Ben then demonstrates his vast intelligence by drawing his gun and searching for Lindy, climbing out the window and up the fire escape, while still naked and wet from the shower
. (Looks like Ben will soon be on probation too, for indecent exposure.)
Naturally, this leads to Ben and Lindy making out, Ben removing her shirt, and the two of them having sex on the rooftop. Luckily for them, someone conveniently left a sofa on the roof, since there are few things less romantic than rolling around on soot-covered asphalt tile. (Since they’re BOTH engaging in public sex acts and indecent exposure, at least they’ll be able to enjoy their probation together.)
Later, while Lindy is out, her computer displays an image of her apartment, with the hooded stalker/killer inside. Lindy realizes the stalker has somehow secreted cameras in her apartment. Wow. That’s one super-powerful, ultra-efficient stalker there – instantly able to enter any apartment and fill it full of remote-controlled internet-capable cameras which he can control from his cell phone from anywhere. This guy makes the villains in James Bond, Batman,
and Mission: Impossible
Ben has entered the apartment with his gun drawn, suspecting that the killer is inside. Suddenly Ben is attacked and disarmed by an unknown assailant. Lindy can’t get there in time, as her cab has been stuck in traffic. (Ever notice that the only time anyone ever gets stuck in traffic on TV is when it’s necessary to build suspense?)
Lindy enters her apartment, to find a mannequin holding a computer screen with a video feed of Ben being held hostage at an unknown location. A message tells Lindy, “Say it, or he’ll die never knowing.” Lindy screams that she loves Ben. After a cryptic hint, Lindy races to the rooftop, where she finds Ben's corpse. His throat has been torn out and blood covering his chest.
“I had to kill Ben,” the creepy stalker narrator concludes. “You’ll understand someday. Are you the one? The ideal? You made it this far…but we’re just getting started.”
Naturally, MTV has rated this combination of sex, gore, and sadism for the kiddies TV-14 (appropriate for 14 year olds) – knowing full well that many younger children will be watching, too. Indeed, MTV’s former Executive Vice-President David Janollari boasted, “Our real core demo is really 12-24; that’s who lives and breathes all of our shows.” MTV is clearly eager to push its vision of gore on children; a promo during the show blared, “Set your DVR to Eye Candy
RIGHT NOW! Don’t miss a single second of the hunt!” as flashes showed bloody corpses with their eyes gouged out.
When the Showtime network first pushed Dexter
at viewers, it was sickening – but at least that program was confined to premium cable, where adults had to pay an extra fee to access it. Then the “misogynist murder and gore is FUN!” trend crossed over to broadcast TV. And now, it’s on MTV, being deliberately pushed at teens and younger children.
Science has shown the deleterious effects that violent media have on viewers, especially children. But those who run the entertainment industry clearly don’t care about science, children, or our society and culture as a whole. So long as MTV continues to push Eye Candy at teens, the program will continue to be the Worst Cable TV Show of the Week
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