French teenagers are drinking, crew. And smoking! And having sex! And if The Independent is to be believed, this wild fad of getting drunk and hooking up at house parties is the result of the British show Skins:
As Holly Williams writes, the Skins party craze has taken off in France, with teenagers throwing parties based on the show, which Williams describes as "the Channel 4 series about misbehaving adolescents. First shown in the UK in 2007, its representation of sixth-form students' wild parties quickly became popular across the channel." The parties usually include drinking, drugs, sex, and costumes that fit the theme of the show. In other words, it's a typical wild high school party where the behaviors seem amplified due to their connection with the show.
But is the show really inspiring these parties, or are people just using the Skins party theme as an excuse to engage in behaviors they already want to engage in, but might feel too afraid to do so unless the overarching, "it's just like the TV show" permission slip of sorts allows them to do so? As photographer Claudine Doury tells Williams: "The freedom is inspired by the TV show. The foreignness of the series is very fashionable and attractive to French teenagers." This sense of freedom and permission, in a way, is akin to the sexy Halloween costume phenomenon, where it's seemingly socially acceptable and celebrated to dress in skimpy, revealing, sexy costumes—costumes that would be frowned upon or mocked at any other time.
However, there is certainly an argument to be made about the social cues we take from television shows, and how the imagery on our screens often influences our everyday lives. We take what we want from these programs, incorporating them into our lives in a variety of ways: the styles (and perhaps the cigarette and whiskey habits) from shows like Mad Men, for example, or developing a habit of speaking in catchphrases ("Bazinga!") or even starting to take on the spirit of certain characters we feel we identify with.
It's strange, in that way, how fictional characters shape your very real existence: I've already written about an unfortunate verbal (and, admittedly, written) tic that I picked up at 14 as a devoted watcher of My So-Called Life: adding "or something," and "or whatever," to the end of all of my sentences. I also started compulsively tucking my hair behind my ears, Angela Chase style, not realizing that I was mimicking and internalizing her on-screen behaviors until they were a part of my own. On a larger scale, the way things—and life—really, is marketed becomes influenced by popular television: with advertisers, designers, and all aspects of popular culture being changed by various television phenomenons.
Writing for the New York Times Katie Roiphe argues that perhaps audiences are drawn to Mad Men, in particular, due to the "messy lives" of the characters, and how that messiness is both appalling and appealing. The same can be said for many mass marketed images and lifestyles draw us in, and, in the case of the Skins show, or your weekly Mad Men costumes and cocktails party, or your "ironic" Snooki attire when you head out for a night of dancing: these things, with even "reality" carrying an element of fiction, give us permission to live out those fantasies, under the guise of either irony or trendiness, and to have the safety in that very blurry line between what is real and what isn't, becoming characters in our own continuing soap opera.
So what about you, commenters? Have you ever been influenced by a popular television show? And if so, did the changes stick?
Teen Spirit: The 'Skins' Sensation Sweeping France [Independent]
On Mad Men, The Allure Of Messy Lives [NYTimes]