Writing Assignment #3 - Media Past Meets Media Present - Allison Medeiros
Medeiros, 1Allison MedeirosCOM 410Professor Renee HobbsWriting Assignment #3 Media Past Meets Media Present It can be agreed on, throughout the country, that turning sixteen is an important time in ateen’s life. For girls, turning sixteen means an elaborate party with all your family and friendscelebrating with you, or so it was back in 2005. However, these days in 2012, turning sixteencould mean being a parent already. On the television network MTV, bothreality TV programs,My Super Sweet 16 and 16 and Pregnant, targeted younger teens and specialized in showing thelives of sixteen-year-old girls, but held very different values. In the year 2005, there was the show,My Super Sweet 16 that focused on girls turningsixteen and having atremendous, but sometimes over the top, celebration. Although it is assumedboys were allowed to be on the show, the episodes mostly consisted of girls. The show followedone or two girls around (per episode) as they are planning their party. The camera crew wouldfollow the teens to hair appointments, flower appointments, shopping trips (both clothing andparty accessories), meetings with the entertainment, and even when they went to school to passout invitations.Most parties had the same type of concept; each girl needed to have the biggest,the best, and the coolest party. There was always live entertainment, whether it was a live DJ orband, there was the best food catered, and the celebration was at a very fancy or expensivelocation. The teens would beg, whine, and argue with their parents to have everything theywanted for their party. The show was full of drama yet excitement; many viewers watched to see
Medeiros, 2the dramatic breakdowns some girls would have and because they wanted to see the outcome ofthe party. My Super Sweet 16 was notorious for how the show depicted those casted. The showdepicted the girls as snobby, controlling, uncompromising and unmanageable teens. Eachepisode had a teen girl crying or yelling if the party was not being planned to their liking.However, this showed young teens watching the show that it is acceptable to be unreasonablewhen things did not go their way. Also, since the girls in the show only invited a select few totheir party, the show was teaching the young viewers that popularity and having the best party isthe key to surviving high school. During these parties there were also scenes of the teens dancinginappropriately for their age. The young viewers were exposed to mild sexual content, but sexualcontent nonetheless. The show also depicted the parents as pushovers that did not have controlover their teenage children. During this time period, it was a fear that parents were slowly losingcontrol over their children. The value of still having an impact on their children’s lives wasslowly disappearing. Today, MTV airs a show called 16 and Pregnant, whichis about sixteen-year-old girlsgoing through pregnancy. This show, like My Super Sweet 16, follows several teens at a time,sharing their story. However, the whole season followsfive or six teens throughout theirpregnancy, instead of just one episode focusing on one teen. The show would follow the girlsthrough any and every challenge they encountered; from telling their parents, friends, and thefather of their baby they are pregnant to the ultrasounds and doctor’s appointments to going toschool to the actual birth. One of the challenges portrayed on the show were if the girls did wellin school or received their diploma while dealing with the consequences of pregnancy. Most girlson the show had to drop out or take a leave of absence to take care of themselves. Also, some
Medeiros, 3girls were kicked out of their homes when they revealed they were pregnant. Those girls wouldeither have to live on their own or at a friend’s house. Lastly, another common challenge wasgetting the support from the teen that fathered their child. Many girls on the show tried to stay inthe relationship with the boy they were dating but had little success. Likewise, some of thefathers wanted nothing to do with the pregnancy and abandoned the teen girl. Although the showdepicted many of the challenges the girls faced, not all girls had a rough time. Some familieswere accepting of the pregnancy and helped the teen girl as much as they could. 16 and Pregnant is a controversial show in whether the show is endorsing teen pregnancyor showing the reality and struggles of being a teen parent.Those against the show think theprogram is promoting teen pregnancy by making it appear that the girls have an easy life eventhough they are pregnant. Since some parents were helping and understanding, this may appearto the young teens watching the show that having a baby may actually be exciting and couldwork out for them. The viewers may have the mentality, “if she could do it on the show, than Icould do it too.” On the reverse side, the show could be inspirational for those teens that havebecome young parents. The show may have the girls in certain support programs and educate theteen parents that were watching the program. However, depicting the different challenges couldscare teens off from wanting to be a young parent. Though the two MTV programs are similar in the fact that they both depict the lives ofsixteen-year-olds, they differ in the values that drove the show to existence. In 2005 while MySuper Sweet 16 was on the air, it appeared that the main concern in teens’ lives were to beaccepted, remembered, and popular. The program also showed that having a great sum of moneyin your family was also preferred at that time. If you were in a wealthy family then you werelikely to be popular and have extravagant parties.Also during this time, the extent of sexual
Medeiros, 4content in the show was the teens dancing extremely close and inappropriately in front of familyand the nationwide audience. For the most part parents were not too worried about their teensbegging and arguing for an extreme and irrational birthday party. Still, as mentioned before,parents faced the reality of slowing losing control and importance in their child’s life. Today, the program 16 and Pregnant, represents the commonality of teens becomingpregnant and how it is more acceptable in this time era. It is not to say that teens were not gettingpregnant back in 2005, but it was more frowned upon in that time. Society would have beenmore appalled than accepting if there was a show about such a topic back then. However, since itis a popular topic in today’s world, the media industry took this opportunity to make a successfultelevision program and produce mass amounts of money from it. My Super Sweet 16 and 16 and Pregnant were both popular MTV shows in their owntimes. Although the two television programs are similar in type and both focus on sixteen-year-olds, the values in each differed and fitted their time era and the norms of society.