Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Monday, Aug 9, 2010
MTV’s Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant walk a fine line with their audience; both programs are honest and interested in telling a sympathetic story about what life is like as a teen mom while also telling viewers, “your life doesn’t have to end up like this.” The lesson is invaluable, but for the kids to really be all right, should MTV do more?

While it’s possible to level many criticisms at MTV’s current programming – the lack of music on “music television”, the disappearance of my childhood VJs, to name a few – the network’s development of serious documentary-style reality programming is adding some unexpected depth to its schedule. Tapping into the fraught battleground of teenagers, sex, and teen pregnancy, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom attempt to turn an honest eye towards the day-to-day struggles of American teens – particularly teenage girls – as they become living consequences of the unresolved debate over teenagers’ access to information about sex, contraception, and romantic relationships. 


The popularity of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom (season two debuted July 20 and continues to follow Maci, Amber, Farrah, and Catelynn from season one of 16 and Pregnant) speaks directly to MTV’s desire to participate in thoughtful storytelling and to a real social need to discuss what, exactly, teen pregnancy looks like, what social forces prompt it, and how it can be prevented.


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