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We're smarter than MTV

October 01, 2004

It's easy to criticize, especially when looking at a show directed at

teens and produced by MTV.

But this isn't just any show. This one focuses on our town, our

teens.

Last year MTV came to town looking for a group of high school

students to be on their new reality show, "Laguna Beach: The Real

Orange County." One thing we have to be vigilant about is to remember

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that these are real people, young people, and we have a duty to try

to give them the benefit of the doubt.

It's understandable that these teens would want to be on the show.

It's an opportunity few get. They are not automatically shallow or

self-centered by this action alone. Looking for fun and excitement

and maybe even a bit of fame is not a character flaw.

This is a good time for parents to help their own kids adopt a

generous attitude of understanding and open-mindedness. There is more

to what we will see on MTV, and what we do see should be tempered

with an understanding of the concept of 20/20 hindsight. The cast

members are young, still making mistakes and still learning to

control their jealousy and other strong emotions that many adults

still struggle with.

The real dramas they went through were obviously exacerbated by

the show. One red flag pops up immediately. It's obvious even before

the dialogue begins that a villain has been decided on. It is

shameless to try to make a bad guy out of a young girl who is still

learning her way. Hopefully there will be a more in-depth look at the

cast as the season goes on, but even if that doesn't happen, we hope

the audience, and more importantly those who know the cast, will be

able to see beyond the show and remember that MTV is looking for

simple stereotypes.

On a lighter note, we will state the obvious. Laguna is the

furthest thing from Orange County in Orange County. If MTV wanted the

real Orange County they would have checked out Fullerton, or at least

Huntington Beach -- a conservative, upper-middle class bedroom

community. But they wanted their own version of Fox's "The O.C." And

that means Newport Beach or Laguna. At least Newport is more

politically aligned with the rest of Orange County.

So, in accepting that the show is hardly reality, it should be

even easier to recognize that what we see of the students on the

screen should not determine how we treat them around town.

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