Yesterday the Skin Cancer Foundation filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking that the F.T.C. to use its authority under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to investigate MTV’s Jersey Shore television series, along with other related initiatives related to the promotion of cancer causing behavior.
The highly rated MTV television show is no stranger to controversy, from cast members onscreen violent outbursts, to their off screen antics.
According to the complaint the Foundation alleges that, “MTV utilized a complex web of programming, advertising, promotion and merchandising to glamorize and endorse excessive tanning as socially enhancing and beneficial, through use of the cast’s ‘Gym, Tan, Laundry’ ritual, without disclosing the related health risks.”
The show just wrapped up its sixth and final season, and to commemorate the event MTV, aired a series of farewell programs, including a one hour retrospective called “Gym, Tan, Look Back.”
The series, according to the complaint, reached nearly nine million viewers at the show’s peak.
While the show has shuttered its doors, the complaint goes on to describe the continuation of such behavior through spin-offs and repeats, which will expose this disturbing behavior to an impressionable audience for years to come.
In a press release issued today, the President and Founder of The Skin Cancer Foundation explained, “While experts have long suspected a link between skin cancer and tanning beds, it was not until a few years ago that we had research studies definitively showing a connection. The fact is, tanning beds cause skin cancer,” he went on to say, “As the series progressed over the years, displays of tanning behaviors grew in frequency along with the cast’s influence over viewers, to the point where the expression ‘Gym, Tan, Laundry’ became a national catchphrase. The repeated and ongoing references to tanning as a harmless activity are dangerous and hazardous to the public’s health.”
In September 2012 the Foundation met with MTV executives, requesting that MTV include a warning with each episode and in conjunction with the sale of items and activities that promote tanning. MTV refused, prompting the Foundation to file the complaint with the F.T.C., in the hope that the Commission would require the use of such a warning.
On a disturbing note, in episode 13 of season two, cast member Paul DelVecchio (Pauly D) enthusiastically nominated himself “Most Likely to Get Skin Cancer.”