Spring break blurs line between fun in the sun and debauchery

Three letters remind teenagers and college students of a spring break filled with dance parties, celebrities and the beach – MTV.

Every year, MTV packs up its VJs, equipment and flair for attracting big name stars and travels to a highly populated beach resort for two weeks of fun in the sun during spring break. And each year, the channel blurs the line between acceptable and way too racy for cable television.

With past shows including “Spring Break Undercover” and “Spring Break’s Buff Enough,” both of which aired last year, MTV pushes the limits of a television beach party.

“Spring Break Undercover” followed spring breakers around from their arrival in Cancun (MTV central last year) to the end of their trip 72 hours later. Cameras caught all the fun, including parties, trips to the beach and even the infamous morning after, all the moments they would be horrified to have their parents watching. MTV altered the usual format of the show by playing the experiences of the spring breakers in reverse, but viewers were still able to see all that comes with a spring break on MTV.

“Spring Break’s Buff Enough” competition pitted five guys against five girls in a “Road Rules” style adventure as contestants competed in “hot body” competitions throughout Cancun in an effort to determine who ruled the beach. I didn’t actually see this show, but I can imagine the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was not entirely thrilled with what was put out there on television in the afternoon hours.

In addition to the raucous celebrations, MTV Spring Break often features celebrity hosts and performers of the highest caliber, and I mean this in all sincerity. Included on last year’s roster were Usher, Lil Jon, Kanye West, Murphy Lee and La La teaching spring breakers how to be “playas,” appearances by Matthew Perry, Natasha Henstridge and Lindsey Lohan and performances by G-Unit, Eamon and Jessica Simpson.

Some people, however, are not happy with the rowdiness that is MTV’s Spring Break. According to an article in the Associated Press last year, the Parents Television Council (PTC) studied the content on MTV during its Spring Break celebration and found thousands of examples of bleeped profanity, as well as citing it as being too sexual for young kids.

In the article, Brent Bozell, PTC president and conservative activist, said, “MTV has clearly chosen to cater to the lowest common denominator, to offer the cheapest form of programming to entice young boys … dangling forbidden fruit before their eyes.”

He acknowledged, however, that spring break may not have been the most appropriate time to analyze MTV programming, as it is typically a hormonally heightened time for college students.

MTV’s Spring Break has always been a venue for sexually-charged programming, an aspect heightened by the fact that the shows are taped at a popular beach site. It is a two-week long break from the daily struggle of college life when students can gather their friends and travel to the beach, work on their tans and meet other college students from different universities, all the while freeing themselves of parents and responsibilities. This leads to a few regretted moments and enticing programming from the channel that brings teenagers and college students the latest in music, movies and dating.

Despite beginning a few weeks after the College ends its own spring break, students can sit in their rooms, watching on television as MTV heads to the Bahamas for Spring Break 2005, with, among others, several of the stars of “Real World” and “Road Rules.” We can expect raucous parties, dancing and time on the beach that rival the raciest aspects of cable programming.