A few weeks ago I was goofing off with a friend in Wal-Mart when she came across a magazine with some girl on the cover. The title said something to the effect of “teen moms.” If it hadn’t been for my friend I would not have even noticed the magazine. I’m not much into magazine reading and I damn sure am not interested in anything teen and motherhood. My friend then said, “This is a good show.”
It’s bad enough teen moms are on magazine covers but now there is a show? Okay, I don’t get out much. I am not a TV watcher. Most of today’s TV shows are either above my intelligence or below my intelligence. There is nothing aimed right at me, so nothing ever catches my eye. I also abhor reality television. I hold reality TV personally responsible for the downgrade of American society. At any rate, there’s this new “reality” show about teen mothers. Seriously? Seriously. When my friend said, “It’s a good show,” I was like…. uhm… how could it be a good show when it is about TEEN MOTHERS. I said, “Whatever. A show that glorifies teen pregnancy.” She said, “Have you ever seen it?”
Of course not. Any idiot with a brain would not endorse such an abomination, which leaves about 93 per cent of Americans outside of this category, which is why the show is GAINING in popularity.
My friend is insistent that the show does not glorify teen pregnancy and that I should watch it so I can join the rest of brain dead American society and know how wrong I am about a programme that showcases high school whoredom. She went on to tell me about how the show talks about how difficult it is to be 16/17 and a mother. It showcases the struggles of these girls’ lives, I came to understand her argument to be. I didn’t bother responding to my friend that the very premise of a show about teen motherhood glorifies the state.
When I was a teenager (*sighs* so many moons ago) the very idea of a teen mother was like…. oh my God…. OH MY GOD. She’s pregnant? Talk about being ostracized. Teen mothers were made to feel like they had leprosy. Once a girl was found to be pregnant she was promptly removed from school before she could contaminate decent folk. Everybody whispered about her, looked at her like she was a whore with AIDS, herpes AND syphilis all rolled into one. There was never any mention of the boy, whoever he was. He got off scot-free, perfectly safe to finish high school and go on with the rest of his life while the little slut suffered in shame. She might have the kid, who knows, but she could come back to school after she had it and her life would never be the same. She fell into the category of drug addicts, gays (cuz we didn’t have any of those back then), people who were not Christian and new kids from rival schools. It was just something that wasn’t done. I knew of two teen mothers. A girl in 10th grade got pregnant. She left school and was never heard from again. Another girl got pregnant in 11th grade and her parents forced her to marry the boy so that they could continue being “respectable.”
This is a bit exaggerated, but the seriousness is that in my day teen motherhood was nothing to be celebrated or glorified. They didn’t get their own after school specials. They didn’t sit on the cover of magazines. They didn’t even get to drink out of our water fountains. They damn sure didn’t get a TV show so everybody could look at the train wreck that was probably their lives.
I just finished reading an article on CNN about the TV show and it’s become something of a phenomenon. It is the third most watched cable show of the season. A magazine editor stated that the teen mom thing has become a “competitive market.” A competitive market? Sixteen year old girls having babies is now a competitive market? I would like to ask my friend now how is this not glorifying their circumstance?
Are these girls really having a hard life? They are reality show celebrities. As US Weekly stated, people are “vested” in these girls’ futures. People want to know what happens to them like they want to know what happens to Snooki, Lindsey Lohan and Kate Gosselin. That’s not glorification? Do you think these girls are not getting paid for their appearances? It isn’t like this is a documentary on PBS. This is a reality TV show on MTV, the world’s worst television station and teen pregnancy is not being glorified? Seriously? Seriously.
I am looking at a picture of Teen Mom Farrah Abraham as she reads a story to her child. The baby has on nail polish. Farrah has on a face full of makeup as she lounges on a pretty nice looking bed with some sheets that probably came from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Somehow I don’t think Farrah is struggling all that much. Who are these teen moms being showcased? They look exactly like the demographic that MTV aims for: middle to upper class white girls with mommies and daddies who have large disposable incomes. Not inner city girls. Not trailer trash girls. Not girls from dead broke, poorly educated families. These are the girls who make up the majority of teen mothers.
I just finished reading the bios for some of the girls on the cast. Maci, white girl, was about to head to college when she got knocked up. She’s kinda with the baby’s father, but she lives at home. Macis is going to have to make do with community college for now. Farrah’s baby daddy dipped out on her but she lives at home and her mother helps out (even though she nags). Farrah (who can pass for white but might be some kind of middle eastern) wishes she could keep dating like other teenagers do but she has to raise her kid, work on her modelling career and go to culinary school. Catelyn (another white girl) and her boyfriend decided to give their baby up for adoption. Catelyn’s parents didn’t like the idea but Catelyn wanted very much to go back to high school so she could enjoy her senior year. Amber (who looks Asian) is the only one who sounds like a teen mom’s reality. She dropped out of school to take care of her baby since her parents couldn’t help out. She’s still with the child’s father who works long hours at a thankless job to support the family. She and the child’s father are fighting a lot, mainly because it sounds like they are too young for all the stress and don’t know what they’re doing.
So 1 out of 4 is a real case of teen motherhood. The rest is just showbiz, reality TV stunts to get more viewers. What if they showed girls at a welfare office? What if they showed girls waiting in line at the health clinic so the kid can get his shots. What if they showed girls who had been thrown out by their parents? Girls trying to get around on public transportation with a screaming baby? Girls with more than one baby? Girls in abusive relationships? Girls begging family members for just a little bit of help? Forget about trying to enjoy your senior year or go to prom or off to college or other middle-class America crap. What about just trying to really survive? That would be reality.
- The reality is that 24 per cent of unmarried expectant mothers are TEENAGERS.
- Two-thirds of teenagers who get pregnant don’t finish high school.
- Thirty-four per cent of young women get pregnant before the age of 20.
- Eighty per cent of teen mothers ends up on welfare.
- More and more teenage pregnancies are ending in abortion.
That’s the reality, but I’m sure none of that is in this TV show that “doesn’t” glorify teen pregnancy. There’s a lot more to this subject to discuss: why teenagers are getting pregnant at an alarming rate, how to slow the rise of teen pregnancy, etc. I have always contended that education is the key but we can’t get into that right now or we’d be here until Christmas 2015.
The bottom line for me is that without even seeing the show, it’s sending the wrong message to an already confused demographic. The girls in this show do not depict the reality of teen motherhood. This show isn’t about real struggle, it’s about MTV trying to make money. MTV isn’t trying to let us all know about an epidemic in our nation, they’re trying to capitalise on it. What kind of message are we sending just because the ratings are up?