MTV has dropped an apparently ill-conceived idea for a reality show about people as young as 18 willing to have the network document their journey to losing their virginity -- a "fame-for-sex" concept that many found troubling.
"Young adulthood is a time for exploration. New relationships, fresh experiences and sexual firsts," read the casting call posted online earlier this month by MTV, the same network that brought audiences the "Jersey Shore" and "Teen Mom."
MTV's open call for participants willing to share the pursuit of their "sexual firsts" with television viewers reportedly drew swift condemnation from concerned parents and other members of the public, leading the popular network to reconsider its plans.
"This was a preliminary casting notice, and we're not moving forward with a pilot," a representative for the Music Television network said Monday, according to Fox News, which described the notice as a "fame-for-sex casting call."
Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, a family-oriented nonprofit, found the news concerning MTV to typify the kind the tension Christians face in light of popular culture.
"How one views this story may also speak to how one views the world," Daly writes on the nonprofit's Communities website. "The cynic will decry the hedonistic and greedy motivations of MTV executives in general. That they canceled the show will do little to placate. The optimist will see it as a victory for decency and a nod to higher values."
The Focus on the Family executive sees MTV's rejected reality show concept as "a great example of the ongoing tension, of the struggle that has never ceased since man first sinned." While insisting that Christians should not expect any less of a "worldview that sees life so differently," Daly reminds readers that transforming the culture is ultimately God's job.
"As believers we're called to do our best to reform culture," he wrote, finally adding: "Of course I am glad that MTV changed course on the show. God's design for sexuality is sacred and beautiful and should never be exploited."
MTV's casting notice was published earlier this month and moved many online users to slam the network for its controversial concept. Others who had just learned of the news Monday also took to Twitter to give their take on the scrapped MTV program, which appears to have tentatively been titled "My First" or "Losing It."
"Gallup: 73% of Americans say the nation's moral values are getting worse," wrote Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, using the phrase "Fresh evidence" to point Twitter followers to a report on MTV's "Losing It."
"MTV Wants Virgins Who Are Willing To Lose Virginity For New TV Show ... >A sign of the apocalypse. This is so disturbing," wrote sports analyst Stephen Howard.
John Nolte, writing for conservative website Breitbart, said he literally gasped when he read MTV's "evil" ad for young virgins.
"MTV can and undoubtedly will hide behind the fact that 18 year-olds are legal adults, but you can prey on adults just as easily as you can prey on children, especially young adults conditioned by pop culture outlets like MTV to believe celebrity and narcissism are virtues," Nolte wrote in his report published last week, before MTV did an about-face.
"What MTV is doing might be legal but it's still a sleazy exploitation of some of our most vulnerable citizens. And the dangling of celebrity and a camera from a swanky studio lot is no different than dangling candy and a camera from your open raincoat."
He added, "If you want to debase yourselves, it's a free country. To entice others, however, is an act of evil."
The original casting call for "Losing It" has been yanked from the realitywanted.com website where it was posted, but Breitbart.com shared an excerpt of its contents:
DO YOU WANT TO TAKE THINGS TO THE NEXT LEVEL? LIKE, ARE YOU READY TO HAND OVER YOUR V CARD? OR DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS READY TO LOSE IT?
Young adulthood is a time for exploration. New relationships, fresh experiences and sexual firsts…
Now MTV is looking to frankly capture that journey in a new series called My First…We're looking for adults who are ready to go all the way. Let MTV come along on your journey… as you try to lose your virginity! (Note: We will be filming whether or not you accomplish this goal… but NOT the act itself. Duh.)
If you are 18 years or older and are willing to candidly allow MTV to accompany you on the journey toward "losing it," please send us an email.
Although the original ad was pulled before its May 28 expiration date, the realitywanted.com posting shows that at least three men ranging in age from 20-26 had applied.
MTV had also published a casting call for "wingmen" and "wingwomen," friends who were virgins and who had the "advice and experience to prep them for their first time" or knew of "the perfect person to be their first."
MTV is owned by Viacom, which also owns BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and several other network brands.