Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Z on TV (Baltimore Sun): 'Family' values: Bristol Palin to 'play' teen mom on TV, by David Zurawik:
I have long complained about films like "Juno" and TV series like "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" sending a message to teen girls that a fast route to love and popularity is getting pregnant. Since such media depictions are very popular, the culture seems not to want to think about that negative critique too much.
But now comes some art-meets-reality news that takes the issue to another level: Bristol Palin, oldest daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, will make her acting debut on "The Secret Life of the American Teeanger," which airs on the ABC Family Channel owned by Disney. Way to go with those family values, Disney. . . .
I am sorry, but everything I learned in media and popular cultural studies while earning a Ph.D. says that in putting teenage mothers at the heart of films and TV series and on magazine covers, you are at least indirectly celebrating girls getting pregnant. You can talk all you want about "educating teens" and "bringing attention to important issues connected with teen pregnancy and parenting," but one of the messages that some teens are decoding from such productions is that getting pregnant will make them "stars" -- or at least the center of their universe of family and friends.
And by the way, this really cuts hard against Sarah Palin's claims, which I have supported, that a politicians' kids should be off limits -- that the kids should have a right to as much privacy as possible. . . .