Bristol Palin, daughter of the infamous Sarah Palin, is starring in her own personal reality show, Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp, which aired on Lifetime. Why the need for Bristol Palin to come back onto the scene years after her 15 minutes should be up? Reality television is looking to capitalize on their newest field of expertise – teenage pregnancy.
Nationally criticized for her pregnancy at 17 years old in 2008, Palin is finally ready to embrace her pregnancy and abandon her hypocritical and unrealistic stance on abstinence. Palin, like many young mothers, isnow breaking into a new area of reality television – the glamorization of teenage pregnancy.
Despite the intention of MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and its sequel Teen Mom, to portray the hardships young mothers must overcome in the wake of their pregnancies, teenage pregnancy news has become booming business in all of the wrong ways. MTV has capitalized on this growing industry, and other networks have taken the hint and added similar plot-lines; such as on ABC Family's Secret Life of the American Teenager, and the made-for-tv movie The Pregnancy Pact. America’s voyeuristic obsession with reality television is becoming a destructive obsession and promotion of teenage pregnancy, but sadly that is inevitably the culture we are being directed towards.
Pregnancy researcher Paul Wright spoke out about the issue saying, “On one hand, the programs do show many of the difficulties teen mothers face. But on the other hand, they sometimes seem to send the message that getting pregnant was all for the best.” In all of the aforementioned shows, both actors and real-life teen mothers note their inability and lack of interest in practing safe sex, yyet they also express a desire to still be able to lead regular teenage lives. These actions singlehandedly note the naiveté of teenagers, but instead of learning from their mistakes they are glorified on television for their life-changing mishaps.
Where is the shock value that MTV is looking for? With the first premiere of 16 and Pregnant, teenagers were stunned and overwhelmed by the stories of four young mothers as they struggled to support their babies. That initial shock value soon wore off when other young women realized that the teem moms had discovered how to achieve fame and money through their situation. “There is no fear and shame in teen pregnancy anymore,” Michelle Hankins, who runs a Young Moms support group in Georgia, commented. “Seeing all these teen moms in the media, it makes them less fearful. It’s desensitized them, there’s just an immunity to the shock of it.”
With more teen mothers parading their round stomachs and MTV producing more patronizing seasons of their popular television shows, it seems as though there is no end in sight to the teenage pregnancy craze. “There are more pregnant teens in pop culture than ever before,” Doctor Logan Levkoff, teen development expert, said in an interview with ABC News. “They are on the cover of magazines, getting paid, getting endorsement deals, and becoming calendar models.” Even while the downsides of pregnancy are portrayed, these mothers are being supported in a multitude of other ways.
For Bristol Palin this is only the beginning, but for the rest of America, here is to hoping that this pregnancy-crazed era is coming to an end.