Sure Fire Way for Teens to Get on TV: Become PregnantJohn Cave Osborne
Shows like MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” make me sick. There. I said it. In fact reality shows, as a whole, make me sick. For the vast majority of them turn morons into icons, thus littering our pop-culture sky with dim-witted stars who are void of substance, not to mention discernible talent. I blame OJ Simpson and the Bronco ride that the (allegedly) murderous clown took in 1994.
You know, the one that compelled every single American to drop whatever it was he or she was doing at the time in order to watch? It was during that surreal, low-speed pursuit when, I suspect, the light went off in some aspiring TV exec’s head.
Hmmm. Real-life situations are capable of delivering huge ratings.
And, at the time, the only reality show around was MTV’s “Real World.” Plenty of room for more. Which is exactly what we’ve seen ever since. More. And more and more. But did such shows really need to dip into the complex well of teen pregnancy?
As I have with most reality shows, I’ve managed to steer clear of “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” But that hasn’t stopped me from forming an opinion on them. I find them morally repugnant. It’s one thing to document a battle of attrition carried out in some exotic locale. Or to televise a season-long singing contest. After all, at least an actual talent is required to win.
But to make celebrities out of young ladies who find themselves in the unenviable position of being pregnant teenagers? To glorify the role of teen mom by delivering such young ladies a platform which provides them fame and possibly, one day, even fortune, thus providing incentive for others to follow suit? It seems distasteful to me.
One would hope that this limelight would never be the type which other teens would actually seek. But that’s exactly what seems to be happening according to PopEater. Rob Shuter tells his readers today that “industry insiders tell me young ladies are so eager to be on reality TV that they are actually getting pregnant just to score an audition…Not much of a surprise. Simply take a spin around the various Internet forums filled with young girls inquiring about what’s required to score a role.”
Shuter then quotes a relationship expert, a “Mommy expert” and a rabbi, all of whom chime in from various angles with what is essentially the same message: if true, the situation is beyond sad. Rabbi Shmuely Boteach puts it best when he says it displays “the moral rot in American society.”
And that’s where I am with it. I believe that the vast majority of what our society finds mesmerizing is anything but. And while, in most cases, catering to things which appeal to the masses is harmless, teen pregnancy is not one of those cases. So when MTV decided to run not one, but two shows that showcase little girls stumbling through a maze meant for a grown woman, the network is doing our society a disservice. Even if the intent of their shows is to discourage teen pregnancies.
They have to think one step ahead and acknowledge there’s a chance that such shows might accidentally encourage teens to try to become pregnant. And taking that chance doesn’t seem like it’d be worth it. Not even for all the ratings in the world.
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