A MinD in MoTown

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
April 22, 2010, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Getting my RANT on, I watch too much TV

(This post has been brewing inside me for a while and it’s about damn time I spit out the words.)

Week after week, I sit there and watch the trainwreck that is MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.” And each week I find myself asking the same question: Are we somehow glorifying teenage motherhood?

While I both believe and hope the show’s creators didn’t aim for young girls to watch this show with awe, wishing that they could become next season’s stars, that exact thought continually crosses my mind.

Despite the producers/editors likely best efforts to depict the hardships of teen pregnancy and thus optimistically prevent it for countless other girls out there, I imagine there are dozens of high schoolers who tune in each week and begin longing for a baby of their own. They watch the struggles of teens and instead of thinking, “I never want to be in those shoes,” they begin plotting their road to stardom as a character on Season 3.

As teenagers, we’re all impressionable. You tell us not to hang out with George* and ten minutes later, we’re in his bedroom doing who-knows-what. You beg us not to drink and we’re so sloshed that Friday night that we can’t even spell our name. That’s how it goes, and yet someone out there decides to toss 20 episodes of prego-teens on the tube and seriously expects girls not to quickly jump on that bandwagon? Why do I find this all hard to believe?

It’s easy for me to look at each episode and critique the passing moments, which are nearly the same every week:

  1. Naive girl meets “nice” boy.
  2. They fall in love.
  3. They do the dirty.
  4. Uh oh, someone’s pregnant.
  5. Boy is a jackass.
  6. Heartbreak hotel. Girl cries A LOT.
  7. Push. Push. Happy birthday baby.
  8. Teen parents are poor.
  9. Life sucks.

Season 1 practically followed this as if it were a script, and yet somehow, we still had Season 2. And I undoubtedly believe a Season 3 will soon debut. Why? Because teens don’t always see the negative in these scenarios and learn from their peers. Rather, many share the same mistakes as their skewed eyes see the good outshine bad. They watch something on TV and duplicate it in their own lives, which is why this show may last for more seasons than I can count on my fingers and toes.

When comes the time to step back and realize that maybe, just maybe, this one show – albeit popular – could be causing more harm than good? Sharing a few Web site addresses each week does little to prevent pregnancy. Shit, if telling teenagers that unprotected sex could produce a baby doesn’t scare them enough to choose abstinence or find birth control, then what makes anyone think for even a moment that slight warnings squeezed between “I can’t wait to be a mommy” or smiling faces will do the trick? I’m not fooled, that’s for sure. And I bet you aren’t either.

Yes, I will admit any day that I watch the show. But I’m 24 years old and I didn’t have sex in high school because I knew its dangers. I didn’t want a baby. I was not about to mess around with anything that would’ve caused one.

Not everyone is me though and I’m quite aware of the naivete that exists when you’re in high school, assuming no wrong will ever occur in your own life. “It won’t happen to me,” and then BAM, nine months later the legs are in the air as a bowling-ball-sized human comes flying out. Why any young girl would want that is besides me, but some do, and I fervently believe that at least a handful of teens in this world are looking at “16 and Pregnant” saying, “I wish that was me.” Doesn’t that mean it’s time to hit cancel and move on to the next reality series?

Perhaps it’s time for “16 with HIV.”

* Yes, George. Don’t ask questions.

14 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I really hope the George reference was to Seinfeld. “But why did the policeman have to yell at me like that?”

Yeah, I watch the show too. The thing that really shocked me was in the reunion show (which I just watched last night) one of the girls said, “It’s a bad idea to try and have a baby to save a relationship.” I agree – I hope girls aren’t seeing this as an easy path to fame and glory.

Comment by megkathleen

When she said that, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe that’s what she did… I can’t remember which girl it was, but it certainly crossed my mind. And I hope other teens take her advice.

Comment by amindinmotown

Wow yeah when you list the similarities in the episodes you are pretty dead on. Damn.

Comment by Jessica

I haven’t seen the show, but you’re right…it’d be VERY hard to present a show like this without teenagers on some level wanting it. There ARE good things with pregnancy that you just can’t hide. But that doesn’t mean we want a bunch of unmarried high schoolers pregnant…

Comment by Ronnica

I’m 24 and can’t picture being able to handle motherhood now. A teenager though? Ugh, I can’t even imagine it! They just aren’t ready and any girl who thinks she is at that age is truly fooling herself.

Comment by amindinmotown

This show may not be solving the problem of teen pregnancy, but I don’t think anything can stop horny teenagers from having unprotected sex besides some good parenting.

That said, I do agree that by making these teens into MTV starlettes they may be adding to the problem.

Comment by Omega

I’m sure nothing will stop teens from engaging in sex. But like you said, this just adds fuel to the fire.

Comment by amindinmotown

16 with HIV sounds good. Someone should pitch it.

Agree with you that teenagers are very impressionable. I see it and I cringe but I doubt teenagers will.

Comment by andhari

Do you think we were that impressionable back then?

Comment by amindinmotown

You are so right. I watch the show every time I catch it..it’s like watching a car accident…you know it will end badly but you can’t help but watch…smh. lol. Hopefully, kids are smarter than to look at other kids who can hardly afford diapers and miss Homecoming but still want to be like them. *sends prayers up*

Comment by Felicia

Just like watching a car accident… =/

Comment by amindinmotown

You know, I never thought about this. Like, the show making some teenagers think they DO want a baby.

… As a 25-year-old who stayed away from boys in high school and into college, I can’t really speak to what some girls are thinking, but I know I for sure didn’t want a kid that young. And the thought of having a baby now still freaks me out a little…

Comment by E.P.

Ditto. I’m still not prepared for motherhood. Yet some teens think they are? I just don’t get it.

Comment by amindinmotown

I agree wholeheartedly with you. I watch the show like crazy, but I don’t think it’s doing anything to stop teen pregnancy. I agree–16 and HIV positive would be an interesting series that might do more to curb the unprotected sex problem.

Comment by Kim

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