Monday, October 5, 2009

16 and Pregnant (and Exploited)

I'm a bit slow on the uptake these days regarding popular culture, which was why I was so surprised to find out from my morning delinquency class that MTV has been running a "reality show" the past couple of seasons called "16 and Pregnant." This is from the show's website:

'MTV's 16 and Pregnant' is an hour-long documentary series focusing on the controversial subject of teen pregnancy. Each episode follows a 5-7 month period in the life of a teenager as she navigates the bumpy terrain of adolescence, growing pains, rebellion, and coming of age; all while dealing with being pregnant.
We were discussing teen sex and whether movies like "Juno" glorify pregnancy without exploring the real consequences of such decisions. The "Juno Effect" has been noted by critics, who claim several incidences of widespread teen pregnancy were inspired by the movie. Apparently, this MTV show is another extension of the media glamorizing teen pregnancy in order to boost cred amongst the younger set.
Each story offers a unique look into the wide variety of challenges pregnant teens face: marriage, adoption, religion, gossip, finances, rumors among the community, graduating high school, getting (or losing) a job. Faced with incredibly adult decisions, these girls are forced to sacrifice their teenage years and their high school experiences. But there is an optimism among them; they have the dedication to make their lives work, and to do as they see fit to provide the best for their babies.
This verbiage reminds of the series of videos called "Bum Fights" which claimed they were paying drunken street people to fight on camera "as a way of raising public awareness about homelessness in the U.S."

I sifted through a few of the episodes online and was frankly mortified. Claim all the highbrow public service motivations you want, but exploitation is exploitation, even by MTV's ignominious standards.

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