The NY Times ran a fascinating article (subscription required) about the local community impact of MTV’s "Laguna Beach" from an image and reputation standpoint.
Moms in Laguna Beach are, like, totally freaked by the show’s impact on their grammar school kids. They say that, like, actually, um, the random and sketchy lifestyles led by the seemingly brain dead, pill popping, Cabo vacationing, sex-starved teens in the show are sending the wrong message to younger kids. Moms also say the show’s depiction of hot, surfer type teen girls has attracted a plague of child predators to the town.
Other residents couldn’t disagree more. As might be expected, the local business community thinks the show’s impact has been oh-so-sweet. All sorts of curious tourists are pouring into the town and shelling out Benjamin’s to see the actual mani/pedi shop the girls frequent, checking out some of the kids’ houses and driving by other hot spots featured in the show.
The Laguna High kids don’t seem too fazed by the show one way or the other, seeing it as a big, "whatever."
Whenever a town council strikes a deal with a reality show, it has to think through the repurcussions and image/reputation implications first. If the show’s characters are indeed influencing younger kids to adopt unhealthy life choices and attracting predators to the community, then all the money in the world isn’t worth it.
Since I don’t know the "real deal" here, I can’t pass judgment. One thing I do know, though, is that, unlike Cabo, what happens in Laguna Beach clearly doesn’t stay in Laguna Beach.