ABC Family’s Idea of Birth Control

Welcome back! I’m beginning my junior year at Towson University, starting with a class in Media Criticism. Through the past classes I’ve taken in the Mass Communications major, I’ve became more aware of society’s media consumption today. I’ve learned to recognize the various forms of media and their many functions for consumers. By taking Media Criticism, I hope to gain insight and skills for interpreting and critiquing the media we surround ourselves with today.

Consider U.S. media consumption statistics like:

  • The average adult watches 4.7 hours of TV each day.
  • The average person spends 2 hours on the internet each day.
  • The average person spends 7.5 hours playing video games each week.

You can find other statistics in this video.

Don’t you think it’s important to understand what messages we’re receiving and what affects the media has on our lives. When we consume media, are we aware of the impact it may have on our values and beliefs? Since the tech-savvy millennial generation, the youngsters of society are beginning to consume more and more media everyday, shouldn’t we be concerned with how they’re perceiving these messages?

Instead of analyzing the media’s messages that we’re consuming, we often ignore the impression that these messages leave on us and our society. It seems like we simply just accept the views that are being presented to us and allow them to shape our own morals and beliefs.

It’s been made clear that the media is a crucial entity in our everyday life, but it’s important to understand how it’s shaping our culture.

Take The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family for example, a show with the intentions of shedding light on the real life issues America’s youth faces. The Secret Life Of The American Teenager focuses on teen pregnancy and high school relationships…meaning the show revolves around sex.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager

The cast of The Secret Life of the American Teenager

The main character, Amy Juergens, begins the series as a fifteen year old, freshman in high school. After her first sexual experience, a one-night-stand with the high school “bad boy”, Ricky Underwood, Amy gets pregnant. Knocked up Amy, who’s depicted as the high school “nice girl”, the show explores her struggles as she tries to be a good mom, while still trying to enjoy her teenage years.

As ABC Family makes the effort to display the effects of teen pregnancy, their special angle is to do so in a “real-life” manner, showing a teenager’s “reality”. With that being said, is sex the basis of an American teenager’s reality?

In this TV show, it seems that a realistic American teenager is sex-crazed. The girls are constantly raising questions about who they should have sex with, when they should have sex, or even how they should have sex, and the boys’ main mission is to “get some”. Even the abstinence promoting, “good girl”, Christian character, Grace Bowman, ends up giving away her virginity. Although not saving sex until marriage is now common in our society, how does this example depict the importance of any self morals?

This show’s intentions are supposed to be condemned for speaking honestly and openly about sex. However, with society’s issues about our youth becoming sexually active too early, why should it be the main topic in a television show that is on a family network?

Every other word from a character’s mouth is about sex. What messages are sent to the public from this? If sex isn’t on a teen’s mind already, it will be after viewing this show. The show turns sex into a huge weight on teenager’s shoulders, and gives viewers the feeling that they too must be worrying and thinking about sex constantly, giving the phrase, “everybody’s doing it” a greater meaning.

Not only does the show create a huge level of focus on sex for young adults, but it addresses the idea of teen pregnancy quite loosely. After building teens’ interest in sex, the show takes away the seriousness that should be involved in teen pregnancy. The Secret Life of the American Teenager makes sex and teen pregnancy seem like a small issue in the lives of teens.

It fascinates me to think about how the media we consume can focus our thoughts and ideas on what is represented in the text. Although the media can be a great tool for education, entertainment, etc., purposes, it’s vital to be skeptical about how the messages conveyed in these programs are then reflected in our own lives. I hope to further my learning in Media Criticism so that I’ll have a healthy skepticism in order to be able to hold onto my own views and beliefs.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John Barr
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 19:30:56

    We both wrote about The Secret Life. You did a far better job with your content about the show though. Good Job.


  2. John Barr
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 01:11:31

    Jen, It was a great idea to start off by greeting your reader. From there you introduce who you are by telling the reader a little information about yourself. This exchange creates a conversational forum. You used the bullet points well and using concrete stats always drive the point home but I believe readers would question where you are getting these statistics from. A link would be helpful here. I would have like to seen the video embedded into the blog instead of using a link. I would have introduced it by explaining a little about the group who produced it, (so I know its not some kid just like me) giving it credibility. You have guts for using a paragraph of questions but I loved every one of them. This continues your conversational theme creating continuity throughout the entire post. You transition into the main text that you analyze (The Secret Life of an American Teenager) well. The brief description of the show also paints a beautiful picture for your argument. I have only seen a couple of scenes from a couple of episodes but I was also shocked that the show was on ABC Family. I did not think ABC and Disney would be at the forefront of addressing teen pregnancy alongside “16 & Pregnant” from MTV who is owned by Viacom. I would embed more images and use more links because some readers (such as me) read slowly and need visuals to stay interested. Good job overall with your content.


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