Does MTV provide condoms for reality show castmates? If so, why don’t they ever seem to get used? If no, why not???
Last night I watched the four billionth season of RW/RR Challenge, which is called The Challenge: Rivals this year. Anyway, at one point early in the show, Tyler (one of the few gay guys on the show this season) notes that two of his condoms are missing, and he says that he’s the only guy that brought condoms.
First off, I don’t understand why every single castmate didn’t bring condoms. But I would think that MTV would provide them for the cast, considering how drunken one night stands are pretty much de rigueur on this channel. Plus MTV is really big on promoting safe sex and all that, so it seems like they would have free condoms on hand.
Mostly I’m confused because it makes so much sense for MTV to focus on condoms for their reality show castmates:
1. MTV has a long history of promoting safe/r sex.
2. MTV is open to corporate sponsorships and product placement during their shows.
3. Any major condom brand could get tons of free advertising by hooking up MTV with free samples. (I really don’t understand why condom companies aren’t already going for major product placement advertising on HBO/Showtime dramas, porn movies, etc?)
4. Based on the most recent season of The Real World, plus shows like 16 & Pregnant, MTV’s general audience still desperately needs additional sex education.
5. If you’re going to offer free booze to people cooped up in a house with no TV, movies, radio, etc, plus limits on where they can go and who they can see, etc, it is unconscionable to not provide free condoms.
I just found this article online at US Weekly: Jersey Shore Cast Gets Truckload of Condoms, Vodka, Tanner. It seems that the enterprising president of Moishe’s Mobile Storage attempted to stock the Jersey Shore house with all manner of things, but MTV turned them away. I’m assuming that’s because Moishe’s – and/or the products they tried to give – aren’t on MTV’s roster of current advertisers.
Special freakin’ delivery at the Jersey Shore crib!
Last weekend, Snooki, Pauly D and their six housemates in Seaside Heights, NJ welcomed a truckload of complimentary “summer essentials” aimed at keeping them baby- and STD-free, buzzed and bronzed.
Unloaded from the truck, courtesy of Moishe’s Mobile Storage: cases of condoms, bottles of vodka, “GTL” bags with sunless tanner, detergent and free gym memberships and more.
Explains Rami Haim, President of Moishe’s Mobile Storage: “Having watched what these kids must endure for fame, we felt obliged to pull together and deliver everything they could possibly need to make it to the end of summer.”
It’s not like I think that Haim is really concerned about the cast, out of the goodness of his heart. I’m sure it was all for the publicity, and that plan worked out for them, more or less. But maybe Rami Haim is also interested in keeping the entire population in Jersey just a bit safer from STDs.
If they do provide condoms, though, why did Jasmine and Tyrie need to steal Tyler’s condoms? Is it because Tyler brought Magnums, and the condoms that MTV keeps on hand weren’t sufficient in size for Tyrie? If so, why isn’t MTV providing a variety of condoms so that guys of all sizes (and their partners) can be properly protected? It is definitely possible that MTV offers an assortment of free condoms in various sizes, but Tyler (and presumably Tyrie and/or Jasmine) just really prefers Magnums. Or Tyler’s condoms were somehow more convenient than free condoms offered by MTV? It seems they did the deed in one of the bathrooms, which is a logical place for condoms to be stocked. I would really like to know exactly what MTV’s reality show houses are stocked with, but I haven’t been able to locate much definitive information.
Obviously MTV is stocking their reality show houses with free alcohol – I don’t think anyone denies that. If I’m wrong, please let me know, because I’m really curious! And they keep the castmates stuffed full of food from their sponsors – yes Subway, I’m talking about you – so the precedent of providing free sponsored merchandise has been set.
Past seasons have shown some indications of free condoms – though sometimes simply because they weren’t used. There was definitely a jar of condoms available on The Real World: Las Vegas, but Steven and Trishelle declined to use them. Then there was, not surprisingly, a pregnancy scare. I’m not sure if MTV provided the condoms and kept them stocked, or perhaps just provided an initial batch of them, or did the roomies acquire the condoms on their own? I hope MTV provides condoms in advance and keeps them stocked throughout the season, but I don’t know for sure.
On the most recent season – also in Vegas – of The Real World, two other castmates revealed their shady protection practices (or lack thereof). Naomi and Leroy have sex with one another and other partners throughout the entire season. Naomi doesn’t insist on Leroy wearing a condom, because she seems to assume that he wears them with all of his other partners, so that makes it safe for her. Um, no. Leroy is also in favor of the pulling out method, because that totes magotes works to prevent pregnancy and STDs except not at all.
Perhaps MTV should offer some sex education before filming – and explain that condom usage is part of the deal. I don’t think MTV can actually enforce this, but they could offer a small monetary incentive when the castmates show that they are grabbing a condom, opening a condom, talking about why they should wear a condom, etc. Everyone wins in that scenario – MTV gets advertising money, Trojan or LifeStyles or some other condom brand gets tons of exposure, and the tweens/teens/adults that watch The Real World might come to see condoms as a regular part of casual sex, and not something that is optional.
The framework is already in place, with LifeStyles condoms offering to buy ad slots during MTV’s controversial teen’s show Skins. TMZ reports:
A rep for LifeStyles tells TMZ, “We are considering advertising during ‘Skins’, as it provides the opportunity to impart a responsible message about safe sex to an audience who clearly needs to understand the implications of their actions.”
Unlike many advertisers who dropped out of “Skins” since its premiere last week — Taco Bell, H&R Block, Subway, Schick — LifeStyles claims the show could actually teach a valuable lesson … “that [teens] can and should be protecting themselves and their partners.”
My online research led me to a NY Post article titled Reality execs: STDs are constant concern.
Reality shows such as “Celebrity Rehab” and “Jersey Shore” are so worried about sexually transmitted diseases, they pass out medication “like M&Ms” to cast members, say the shows’ producers.
In a round-table discussion of reality show execs published yesterday in The Hollywood Reporter, SallyAnn Salsano, creator of “Jersey Shore,” says STDs are a constant concern.
“I do a full medical [for cast members] but I also do a lot of STD stuff,” she says.
“The network [VH1] requires me to do stuff with my patients that has no relevance to anything,” Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of “Celebrity Rehab,” says.
“Like everyone on the set has to take [herpes medication] Valtrex,” he said.
“We hand it out like M&Ms!” Salsano said. ” ‘Hey kids, it’s time for Valtrex!’ It’s like a herpes nest. They’re all in there mixing it up.”
A CNN article, titled The ‘Real World’ of reality show contracts, goes into further detail about the legal side of sex on reality television.
On live-in reality shows, the concern is extended to the drama of the cast’s social interactions. “When you’re living in the house together, you have to worry about living in a house of complete strangers who have been selected to create conflict in a hermetically sealed and stressful environment,” Katleman said. “That can lead to a lot of emotional distress on the part of the contestants. You have to cover those things in the release; you have to explain to them that you’re going to be living in this house in a stressful situation. If you’re in a situation where there are potential hookups, you have to disclose to them that it’s possible that there will be sexually transmitted diseases. That also has to be included in the release.”
Finally, here is the excerpt from what the Examiner says is a legit Real World contract, though I think it’s from 2009/2010:
I UNDERSTAND THAT PRODUCER DOES NOT MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES ABOUT THE CAST MEMBERS IN THE PROGRAM OR OF ANY OTHER PERSON WHOM I MAY ENCOUNTER IN CONNECTION WITH MY PARTICIPATION IN THE PROGRAM, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE MENTAL OR PHYSICAL HEALTH OF ANY SUCH PERSON.
IF I CHOOSE TO ENGAGE IN CONSENSUAL SEXUAL BEHAVIOR OR INTIMATE CONTACT WITH ANY SUCH PERSON I DO SO VOLUNTARILY AND KNOWINGLY AND I ASSUME THE RISK THAT BY ENGAGING IN SUCH ACTIVITY I MAY CONTRACT CERTAIN SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES. PRODUCER MAKES NO WARRANTY OR REPRESENTATION THAT ANY SUCH PERSON IS STD FREE.
I AM COGNIZANT OF THE RISKS AND I SHALL BEHAVE IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH GOOD JUDGMENT AND CAUTION AS I WOULD IN MY DAILY LIFE. I EXPLICITLY INCLUDE ANY INJURIES OR HARM THAT I MAY SUFFER AS A RESULT OF ENGAGING IN SUCH CONDUCT WITHIN THE MATTERS FOR WHICH I AM RELEASING YOU FROM ANY CLAIMS OR LIABILITIES.
In episode 9, we see cast members Naomi and Leroy, who have been in a sexual relationship together for much of the season, deal with some sexual health issues. We discover that they have been having unprotected sex with each other and with other partners as well. They discuss their fears and concerns, mainly around the threat of STDs and pregnancy. The threat of HIV or AIDS is never uttered.
Much has changed since the days of Pedro Zamora on The Real World.
To be clear, I’m not passing judgment on the sexual exploration of these young people. Watch the rest of the episode and you see other cast members exploring and expressing their sexuality. That’s not the issue. For me, the issue is that 17 years after Pedro, young people are reverting back to high risk sexual behavior. There is a return of denial, especially when it comes to perceived HIV risk.
One would think that, after the public embraced Pedro, MTV would continue to focus on safe sex education through The Real World. Speaking of Pedro, I think he would be really, really disappointed by the lack of emphasis on safe sex. It is worth noting that an entry about getting tested appeared on MTV’s IYSL (It’s Your Sex Life) site shortly after the Naomi/Leroy episode aired. The article was titled Naomi from Real World GYTs (Get Yourself Tested), and it’s the only thing I’ve seen from MTV specifically that addresses the concerns in that episode:
On a recent episode of MTV’s The Real World: Las Vegas, one cast member, Naomi goes to GYT after worrying that she might have an STD after having unprotected sex with another cast member, Leroy. Leroy believes the outrageous myth that “I would know if I had an STD” (which GYT debunked on MTV’s 10 Most Outrageous Sex Myths Show). Here are the facts: STDs often have no symptoms, so many people who have an STD don’t know it. And you can’t tell by looking. The only way to know for sure is to GYT. And part of living GYT is respecting yourself and your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, friend with benefits, hook-up buddy) enough to protect yourself ALWAYS, no excuses.
Despite all the worries, Naomi and Leroy seem to have a newfound love of latex since condoms are the only method that protect against BOTH unintended pregnancy and STDs.
Perhaps they would have discovered the love of latex a little sooner if they had been properly educated? I’m not saying this is MTV’s fault – I blame the media, parents, teachers, doctors, society in general, and mostly abstinence-only sex education. It isn’t MTV’s fault, but they sure could have helped. And perhaps by helping they would help a future generation of Real Worlders to consider protected sex as the norm, and not just the exception after a scare. Some people will oppose MTV offering condoms, saying that it promotes sex before marriage, promiscuity, etc. But when the entire show is pretty much about just that, I think condoms are definitely the lesser of the evils.