Somehow my daughter and I found ourselves watching some unmemorable teen show. We’d never seen it before, and in fact, I’ve proudly given up most television for my 10-year-old because, well, it’s just all so awful. I have nothing against Hannah Montana but suffice it to say I was happy when my own daughter couldn’t care less about getting concert tickets. I am actively trying to shut out the commercial world where the impossible role models get younger and younger ever year.
I don’t know what the show was, but it was interchangeable with all of the rest. It suddenly struck me how different things are now, how common it is for kids to be famous, and just how many shows are on television featuring these kids. I wondered about their lives and the image they have of themselves and what opinion they’ll have later, when they either go on to have thriving careers or not.
We’ve all been quietly freaking out, we parents, about the casual new-found tradition of superstar kids being molded and then sold as products. Most of the time we go along with it. It’s okay, isn’t it? Sure it is! They seem happy enough! They have good parents. It worked out fine for Jodie Foster! Well, sometimes it works out, but most often it doesn’t.
The saddest example of this is Britney Spears, a mother of two young children. Well, maybe not the saddest. Now, her teenage sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, has now bumped sis off the tabs. Yes, the barely teenaged “successful one” is now with child. It is as if she’s spilled out of some cautionary tale from the 1950s about girls and sex, like she didn’t know she could get pregnant that easily?
While Spears is hardly the first teen to get knocked up at 16, and not the first celebrity to do so, she may well be the first pre-packaged product teen to do so. What do you do when your meal ticket derails this badly? Nickelodeon, where Spears starred on Zoey 101, has quietly stood by the teen, saying, “We respect Jamie Lynn’s decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation. We know this is a very difficult time for her and her family, and our primary concern right now is for Jamie Lynn’s well being.”
Apparently the network is considering doing a pregnancy show and is in talks with journalist Linda Ellerbee about maybe helping them find the best way to discuss the issue with Spears’ target audience of 9 – 13-year-olds. In an interview with the New York Post, Ellerbee said that she wants to produce a show that doesn’t necessarily focus on Spears, but instead talks about things like “how do you know when you’re in love,” and “what is your value system,” and other boring speeches we girls have heard a hundred times.
Forget the preachy lectures. The only way to get through to these girls is to shock them with the reality of becoming a parent. And even that might not do it. Getting knocked up has everything to do with sex. Sadly, it’s really as simple as that; most of the time it isn’t an intellectual choice – it’s millions of years of evolution ensuring that we produce offspring. It is probably the number one priority of our species. It is a very powerful urge. Teens enter this phase of their lives probably having absolutely no clue how powerful it is on the body, the mind, and the heart. Get scientific on their dumb asses, is what I’m saying. Let’s everybody wake up and smell the coffee, shall we?
Zoey 101 has wrapped its show for the season and new episodes will air in February (just in time for sweeps, yay!). They have stated that they probably won’t shelve the new episodes (and give up on the ratings bonanza?).
Sleaze gossip is big business too, so a controversy like this will make a lot of outlets a lot of money. Spears will have a price on her head as her baby bump grows and her child will have an even bigger price tag, and so it goes. Perhaps that’s why most are staying mum about the Spears news – they’re waiting to see if the beast will salivate or if the beast will turn away. We all know the beast never stops being hungry. Maybe it’s time to put the beast on a diet.