Are teens becoming pregnant to get on MTV's Teen Mom, a reality show that stars young girls who have had children? A PopEater report claiming just that has some gossip blogs abuzz over the moral bankruptcy of today's attention-craving youth.
“When Teen Mom became the ratings sensation … the immediate and rational concern was that it would encourage young girls to get pregnant just to be on TV,” wrote the Superficial. “And because we live in the greatest country on earth, guess what happened. Young girls got pregnant just to be on TV.”
This story is certainly disturbing. But is it accurate? The evidence from the PopEater report isn't totally convincing.
First, PopEater columnist Rob Shuter starts by citing “industry insiders” who reportedly told him that “young ladies are so eager to be on reality TV that they are actually getting pregnant just to score an audition.”
The article doesn't give any other details, except that online message boards are apparently swamped with teens wondering whether a well-timed pregnancy could land them a shot at stardom. “Simply take a spin around the various Internet forums filled with young girls inquiring about what's required to score a role,” wrote Shuter.
Shuter doesn't list any specific web forums, and half an hour of Google research turned up only two results, both from the Yahoo! message boards:
“I want to be on Teen Mom should I have a baby?!? I really wanna be on tv!” wrote another Yahoo poster named “Chode Interrupted” five months ago, adding that, “I'm not a troll guys. I just want to be famous!” and “I'm only 13 and I want to get the coolest kid in school to be the dad or his best friend I"m not pikcy!”
Certainly not overwhelming evidence of a trend. That's not to say there aren't young girls online discussing this (in this day and age, we've certainly seen people go to some bizarre lengths get on reality TV), but it doesn't seem to be as prevalent as alarmed bloggers have suggested (and even if it were, it's hard to trust the legitimacy of anonymous online posts on message boards).
Shuter is a well-sourced reporter, and there's no doubt that industry insiders have been expressed doubts to him about high schoolers having babies just to be on the show. But bloggers blaming the “Teen Mom” series for corrupting American youth might want to hold off judgment until some more evidence come in. Shuter's original story at PopEater was rightfully headlined with a question-mark at the end: “Teens Becoming Pregnant to Get on 'Teen Mom'?” The rest of the entertainment media would be better served trying to answer that question, instead of touting it as a fact.
Getting pregnant without being emotionally and financially prepared, and without a stable family life, is not something that should be celebrated. But it also shouldn't be ignored. While “Teen Mom” has had some low moments – turning a few young, troubled girls into tabloid celebrities, for one – it has also portrayed the harsh realities of teen pregnancy in a surprisingly honest and serious way at times.