I watched parts of five episodes of a show on MTV called My SUPER Sweet Sixteen this weekend. I’m used to seeing bad behavior on “reality” shows like the network’s The Real World, but this was literally nauseating. I was actually lying on the floor, writhing in pain after two and a half hours of this wretched excess. You know that headache one gets when eating something too cold and/or too sweet too fast? Well, consider that effect and you don’t even LIKE that flavor of ice cream.
The premise is that some young girl, about to turn a significant age, is throwing a party that just everybody will want to attend. The important thing in most of the episodes I saw, was that air of ex-clu-SIV-ity, where some people don’t get in because they’re not popular or they’re not cool or or because they’re UG-ly, emphasis on the “ugh.”
And these parties aren’t cake and ice cream affairs. The budget for one of these events was $125,000, many times the cost of our wedding. And that was the one teenager who didn’t say, “The sky’s the limit.” Just the dresses of the young women made all but the most lavish wedding gowns look cheap. The term affluenza was made for these people. The point, if there is one, is that this is the ONE DAY in these girls’ lives that it’s all about THEM. Ha! EVERY DAY, it seems like it’s all about them; their fancy blouses literally state this in a couple examples.
So, why was I even watching not one, but multiple episodes? I blame my wife. Or actually my wife’s students. She teaches English as a Second Language, and some of her students were talking about seeing a quinceanera, on the show. In cultures such as Cuba and Mexico (both represented on the shows), the big coming-of-age party takes place at the age of 15. Carol was hoping to work one of these episodes into a lesson plan for school; if she ends up doing so, it will be for limited moments, for she doesn’t want to encourage such bad behavior.
The first episode involved triplets who wanted to outdo each other; they consult with the party planner (each episode has one, of course) who is charged with keeping the “surprise” a secret from the other two sisters. The second show was the Staten Island girl with the “limited” budget of $125,000. The third was a quinceanera for a Cuban-American girl who was ordering around her mother as though she were a serf. I am a firm believer in non-violent resolution to issues. But when I saw how this girl treated her mother, I wanted to do her serious harm. In the quinceanera, there are 15 couples who are part of her court (think “wedding party”) who she screams at like the worst Bridezilla you could imagine. (Whatever religious significance of the event, if it took place at all, was lost on the editing room floor.)
The fourth story had an interesting angle. Young girl grows up poor in Erie, PA, gets adopted as a young teen, now lives the good life. But she wasn’t humbled by her background; rather, it semed to fuel her avarice. My wife, who doesn’t swear, said during this particular broadcast, “That girl’s a B!” And the topper is that, at the party, the girl, who fails getting her driver’s permit, because she studied “like for a minute”, nevertheless gets a new BMW from Mommy and Daddy. Even though the parents are lavishing material things on her, both Carol & I thought that they seemed curiously detatched.
I’m only learning how tough parenting can be. But the parents in most of these situations would have their licenses revoked, if parenting required one.