Well this is heart-warming. In light of Jenelle Evans‘ recent antics, MTV is reportedly considering shutting down its popular show Teen Mom to protect itself from liability in case something bad happens to any of its cast members. Like, you know, in the event that they die or something, MTV doesn’t want to be held responsible. Jenelle’s situation is making them particularly nervous, what with her continued drug use, criminal history, and tumultuous love life, which she makes all the more public by posting about it on Twitter.
Okay here’s my thing. I absolutely think that Teen Mom shouldn’t exist. I think it glamorizes lost young women, exploiting their inability to get back on their feet in order to increase their viewership. MTV has the resources to assist people like Jenelle, but they choose not to because it’s better television, and what they’ve done is raise these girls to a level of celebrity they’ve never experienced before, without giving them any means to cope with it. And these are women who have already made it incredibly clear that they have dangerous coping mechanisms. In the case of Jenelle Evans, she has been arrested seven times since first appearing on MTV, for everything from breaking and entering to heroin use. She has been engaged twice, married once, and is currently demanding a divorce from her husband of around one month, Courtland Rogers even as she has reunited with her former fiancee, Gary Head. Her three-year old son was removed from her custody. And she’s only twenty-one years old. This is a lost girl, and she needs help, not celebrity status.
But she has it anyway, whether she knows how to deal with it or not. Jenelle has over 600,000 followers on Twitter, where she shares every detail of her life. She announced her pregnancy with Courtland’s baby six weeks in, and also documented her miscarriage and subsequent estrangement from Courtland after she caught him cheating. MTV has given her a platform to get a message out to girls without helping that message be a good one. And now that they’ve lost control over the content, they’d like to quietly back away and stop being associated with these girls before something terrible happens to these girls, if that’s alright with you.
But wait a second. Something terrible has ALREADY happened to these girls. They weren’t educated about birth control or safe sex, and they got pregnant accidentally, way before they were ready. They had no active support systems so they turned to drugs or abusive men or other destructive behaviors to get themselves through the trauma. THEN, they get put on television and given an amount of money based on how many viewers their episodes get, an amount that increases when there’s more drama on the show. So girls like Jenelle are being rewarded with a direct ratio of crises to moneys. People like me are recapping her show every week and teaching the public her name, which simultaneously becomes synonymous with failure and glamorizes the struggles in her life. What an excellent way to form a young mind and create good habits.
Think of all the people who watch the show. It’s about 3.5 million viewers per episode. That’s a lot of power that MTV is wielding if they chose to make the show informative instead of exploitative. But that would require more effort than just pointing the camera at a mess, and it would probably lose them viewers, so they’re not interested. Instead, they’re comfortable airing these girls’ most intimate, challenging struggles, and hiding behind the idea that the show serves as a ‘cautionary tale’ to relieve themselves of any obligation to these girls. Shows like Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnant have made the network a ton of money, so maybe it’s time to put that money into the betterment of our nation’s youth instead of the increase of reality TV ratings. Just a thought. Instead, all they’re saying is that they haven’t mad a decision on Season 5 yet, but they will go ahead with airing Season 4. They’re still refusing to take any responsibility for these girls’ lives, and until that happens, I don’t know that heroin is the most dangerous element in Jenelle’s life right now. I’m kind of thinking it’s MTV.