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January 28, 2010

The “horror” of teen pregnancy?

Filed under: News,pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:24 am

Over the past few weeks, Milwaukee teens have seen and and heard promo after promo for the horror film 2028. There’s blood, screaming, creepy lighting, gravelly voice-over, the works. Over time, though, it became clear that these weren’t trailers for a movie, they were trailers for YOUR LIFE. Your life, that is, if you’re young and knocked up. While the first round of previews ended with “in theaters January,”  subsequent edits closed on the following message: “Get pregnant as a teen and the next 18 years could be the hardest of your life.” Then, a Web address flashes on screen: BabyCanWait.com. Oh, snap!

According to Broadsheet, this is just one of at least 15 anti-teen pregnancy campaigns presented by the United Way’s Healthy Girls program in Milwaukee. “Past print ads included images of teen boys with pregnant bellies and a baby diaper with a brown “scratch-‘n’-sniff” spot. The ads’ creator says the aim is to offer a contrast to high-profile young mothers like Jamie Lynn Spears and “deglamorize” teen pregnancy…and credits the decline in the state’s teen pregnancy rate in part to their “aggressive and provocative” approach.” Note: BabyCanWait.com provides information about contraception and STD’s. This is not an abstinence-only campaign.

But, as Broadsheet’s Tracy Clark-Flory asks, “Are these shock-and-awe tactics the best way to reach kids?” While I sympathize with the goal, and appreciate the clear and creative commitment to it, something about the trailer didn’t sit well with me.

For one thing, horror movies are “glamorous,” too. (Older) teens — and women — like Saw, say. Not saying it’s aspirational, but the genre itself is seen as a double-dog-dare lark, not a cautionary tale about (say) losing your virginity at summer ca — REE! REE! REE! You know? So there’s that.

There’s also something about it that contributes to an ugly stigma. Teen mothers as screaming bloody victims. The baby as some sort of evil spawn. Or something like that. Ick. Not helpful.

Finally, I don’t think kids are running around getting (people) pregnant because Bristol and Jamie Lynn made it look so, like, cute. Or even just because ADULTS ARE LYING TO THEM ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL, which they are. There are so many naive, misguided, melancholy, ironic reasons that teens want to get pregnant, be parents. They’ve seen their sisters and brothers and friends do it. And it’s hard hard hard. But — based on what’s become normal to them — it’s not a horrorshow. I’m not sure you can convince them it is in a one-minute trailer when the rest of their life says otherwise.

See for yourself. What do you think?


  1. […] article was originally posted here. Breakup Girl (the co-creation of author-journalist-comedian Lynn Harris and […]

    Pingback by The “horror” of teen pregnancy? « SpeakEasy — January 28, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  2. This trailer doesn’t sit well with me either. Enough making things over-the-top and cinematic. I’m a big fan of MTV’s TEEN MOM actually — sometimes it’s even birth control for me (at age 32). I’m much more in favor of an honest approach. Teenagers aren’t as unreachable as people seem to think they are — they can be talked to on pretty real levels.

    Comment by Melissa Walker — January 28, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  3. Although, as an adult woman, I don’t appreciate the cliched image of childbirth being horrific (we really gotta stop reinforcing this), I think the premise as a whole is pretty clever. It doesn’t make a big moral argument, but it does reflect some truth about what having a kid too early is like–albeit in an extreme and metaphorical way.

    I also appreciate that the link (Baby Can Wait) has info about contraception–it’s not an abstinence-only program.

    I think back to the drunk-driving films we used to have to watch in Driver’s Ed, and the itinerant stoma guy who’d lecture to health classes about smoking, and I think this is no worse than those, with much better production values.

    I don’t know the stats about how effective these kinds of campaigns are, but some part of me always wonders if you can teach kids anything about anything. Maybe all we can is keep trying with ads like this.

    Comment by Paula — January 28, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  4. That should read “maybe all we can *do* is keep trying.”

    Comment by Paula — January 28, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

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    Pingback by Breakup Girl » The “horror” of teen pregnancy? | trimestermommy.com — January 28, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  6. @ Paula: “I don’t appreciate the cliched image of childbirth being horrific (we really gotta stop reinforcing this)” << TOTALLY agree.

    Comment by BG — January 28, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amanda ReCupido, iheartdaily, Lynn Harris, Mia Eaton, Breakup Girl and others. Breakup Girl said: Teen pregnancy as horror flick? What do you think? http://www.breakupgirl.net/?p=3159 […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Breakup Girl » The “horror” of teen pregnancy? -- Topsy.com — January 29, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

  8. There’s many different resaon why teens get preganant blame it on biopyshcosocial issues, whatever. the fact is that males are a big part of this pregantcy isssue and in my opinion they aren’t adressed or even brought to the light.
    Imagine this parents of males really should start letting the male know that monies will be subtract from their school grants, jobs and any other income they have to help support a child believe me teen pregnantcy will drop. I like this trailer it’s short and straight to the point now how about making one for the male teens. i would be proud to be apart of educating males

    Comment by B P E — February 2, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

  9. B P E,
    That line of reasoning probably won’t be terribly effective on a horny teenage boy who doesn’t support himself and might not have a job yet.

    Comment by Karl R — February 2, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

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