iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Bethany St. James

GET UPDATES FROM Bethany St. James
 

Trash Television and the American Youth: Irresponsibility Overload

Posted: 01/16/12 07:35 PM ET

We've all seen them; the commercials for television's latest offerings blazing across our screens. Shows such as Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant and even the upcoming I Just Want My Pants Back do little to stimulate the mind of our youth. Although, many may argue that this type of trash television is no more than harmless entertainment, I disagree. Any responsible adult that is paying attention would certainly agree that sexual irresponsibility and drug abuse among our teens is on the rise. One could in fact make an argument that several factors come into play here. Who holds the accountability for this trend in television and what role does it play in assisting the youth of America to make such poor decisions for themselves and their lives? Don't we as the more responsible viewers have a say in what is being put on television? If we do in fact have a say, why are we not exercising that right and asking for more responsible programming?

I find it hard to believe that parents who are involved in their children's lives are alright with the messages that this type of programming brings to their children. Adults have a responsibility to young people to encourage education and to teach accountability. For far too long, we have shirked our responsibilities as adults and allowed the television to take the reins. Although, I am not a parent with children under my roof, I am a proud Aunt. I have often been guilty of chastising my sister for living in the suburbs and sheltering her children. As years go by, I am becoming more understanding of her position. It is frightening to see a 16 year old on the cover of People magazine with her child almost shining as a supposed role model.

Don't misunderstand. I am not ashamed of sex nor do I find it dirty. I proudly work in the sex industry. In fact, I was raised in an environment surrounded by adults who made their living in the adult entertainment industry. You may find it surprising to learn that most of the teenagers I knew had lost their virginity and experimented with sex far before I did. I was taught at a very early age that with sex and any other decision of an adult nature comes a great responsibility; a responsibility not only for one's self but for the many other people that your actions can affect. It is shocking to me that this is not a lesson being commonly taught to young adults. Shows such as Teen Mom seem to simply reinforce that having unprotected sex and becoming pregnant at an early age isn't a life altering event but, a chance to become a television star!

Why on Earth would a teenager want to do something as boring as attend college or get a job when the alternative is to binge drink, party all night and have risky sex? In their young minds, they run a better chance of landing a television show, getting paid to make personal appearances at nightclubs and seeing their name on the schlock wares developed by some so-called marketing geniuses by acting like a fool in public rather than by getting an education.

Continuing to allow these reality "stars", such as Snooki and Pauly D to act as examples of exemplary conduct, we are certainly ensuring that the next generation will be fraught with uneducated adults unable to understand how their lives went wrong. They will certainly be a burden on our system and forgive me for saying; we are already overly burdened with problems of a societal and economic nature.

But, how do we hold the producers of these types of programming accountable? It's easy. Stop turning a blind eye. Pay attention to the children and teenagers in your life. Monitor what they watch and explain to them why these people depicted on t.v are not of the caliber and character you would hope that they strive to be. Empower them to want better for themselves. Express the importance of personal responsibility, goals and education. Once the producers of these shows see that there is no longer a market, nor an interest for this type of garbage television, I assure you they will stop making these shows just as fast as they are churning them out now. We, the general public truly are the final decision makers when it comes to what makes it and what doesn't in pop culture. Stand up, America. It's time for us to exercise our right to point out what is wrong.

 

Follow Bethany St. James on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BethanyStJamesX