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Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Pregnant pause — nearby suburb wants no part of MTV reality show

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeff Vorva

 

jeff column  Many years ago, in the 1980s, I made a bold proclamation.
  There was a show that appeared in the afternoon called “Love Connection” in which couples went on a blind date and then came on TV to tell the world and smarmy Chuck Woolery all about it.
  It was then that I declared, “TV could not get any worse than this.”
  Boy was I wrong.
  Shows kept getting worse and then reality TV not only lowered the bar, it buried it 10 feet under.
  So I no longer say, “TV could not get any worse than this” even though some shows put that to the test.
  One such show is “16 and Pregnant’’ in which MTV follows a pregnant teenage girl around and the trials and tribulations of being a teen mom. Not to judge, but usually the girls they pick aren’t the brightest in the world and their boyfriends tend to have the IQ of plywood.
  Since people love bad TV, this show, of course, is a hit.
  I would love to have been in the MTV board room hearing the pitch for this dreck and listening to the other executives fall all over each other to agree how great it is.
  The show started in 2009 and it’s still going strong.
  And now a few suburbs south of us, it’s creating a stir.
  MTV is following a Tinley Park teen around and Mayor Ed Zabrocki and Andrew High School Principal Bob Nolting are not keen on letting the network film in the community or the school.
  “The initial concept of the show probably made some sense,” Zabrocki told WGN-TV News. “But over the years with reality TV…I think it glamorizes unwed mothers. This is a quick and easy way for some young ladies 14, 15 or 16 to have in their mind that this is a way to get on TV and have 10 minutes of fame.
  “I think that sends the wrong message, and I feel very strongly about that.”
 The story has gone national, thanks in part to a feature on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
  Zabrocki was a longtime counselor at Brother Rice High School and is no dummy when it comes to seeing the real-life effects that pregnancies cause for both male and female students.
  But his take and my take on the show are vastly different.
  Any girl that would purposefully get pregnant just to get on TV probably would do just about anything if “16 and Pregnant” didn’t exist, so I am not buying that argument.
  While it’s true that some of the millions of viewers think that having a baby at that young age is pretty glamorous, there has to be some out there that think the opposite. There have to be kids out there watching saying “I’m glad that’s not me.”
  Therein is the show’s value. I still dislike the show. But there is a tiny bit of value.
  Parents can preach about the evils of having sex at an early age. Teachers can talk all they want about proper protection. At private schools, priests and nuns can try to put the fear of God into kids about abstinence before marriage.
  But I think the best way for kids who are straddling the fence on this issue to get the message is to see for themselves the life-changing consequences, responsibilities and hardships that having a baby can cause. That could be as frightening as those old “Scared Straight” show in which hard core prisoners verbally terrorize young troublemakers in a prison setting.
  The show doesn’t have too much socially redeeming value but it does serve as a trashy public service reminder.

Sick of my viruses
  They say a good journalist doesn’t blame his tools.
  I’m blaming my tools.
  To all the fine folks who might have sent some information my way and it did not make it to the paper, I am throwing technology under the bus. The e-mail has been acting up and there have been chunks of time when the e-mail just doesn’t come in.
  After our computer guru, Pat Engle, ran some tests he was happy to announce that I set the Regional Publishing record with having the most viruses ever — more than 1,200.
  It was something I didn’t celebrate.
  Hopefully all is well now, but use Christmas forgiveness if something you were hoping to make the paper failed to make it.