I have long complained about films like "Juno" and TV series like "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" sending a message to teen girls that a fast route to love and popularity is getting pregnant. Since such media depictions are very popular, the culture seems not to want to think about that negative critique too much.

But now comes some art-meets-reality news that takes the issue to another level: Bristol Palin, oldest daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, will make her acting debut on "The Secret Life of the American Teeanger," which airs on the ABC Family Channel owned by Disney. Way to go with those family values, Disney.


"Bristol Palin is the most famous teenage mother in America. We're thrilled to have her join us, and I think she will bring additional attention to the issues facing teen parents that we've been exploring for a couple of seasons now," Brenda Hampton, executive producer of the series, said in a release from ABC Family.

"I am thrilled to be on this show and to be a part of a program that educates teens and young adults about the consequences of teen pregnancy," said Palin in the same statement.

According to ABC Family:

I am sorry, but  everything I learned in media and popular cultural studies while earning a Ph.D. says that in putting teenage mothers at the heart of films and TV series and on magazine covers, you are at least indirectly celebrating girls getting pregnant. You can talk all you want about "educating teens" and "bringing attention to important issues connected with teen pregnancy and parenting," but one of the messages that some teens are decoding from such productions is that getting pregnant will make them "stars" -- or at least the center of their universe of family and friends.

And by the way, this really cuts hard against Sarah Palin's claims, which I have supported, that a politicians' kids should be off limits -- that the kids should have a right to as much privacy as possible.

No, Palin's daughter is now embracing the Hollywood limelight under the self-serving and empty claim that she is helping "to educate" others. If your kid needs Bristol Palin to "educate" her or him about teen pregnancy and parenting, your kid needs better parents, teachers, friends and patterns of media consumption. In short, your kid needs help.

And if Sarah Palin tries to say Hollywood's exploitation and the culture's celebration of teen pregnancy and parenting are a good thing, then Sarah Palin is a hypocrite. I can't wait to hear Palin's verbal jujitsu in trying to explain this one to Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Silly me, I thought family values conservatives like Palin didn't like Hollywood. According to the ABC Family release:

And if you don't think the media celebrates Bristol Palin for getting pregnant even as she now preaches abstinence, go to ABC's "Good Morning America" Web site (GMA had the "exclusive" on this acting debut) and note the language used to describe her: "teen pregnancy ambassador" and "arguably the most famous teen mother in America." Being an ambassador and being the "most famous" are good things -- not bad. What teenager wouldn't want to be famous in this fame-obsessed culture of ours?

And how did she become an ambassador and so famous? By getting pregnant as a teenager.

But with ABC News getting the "exclusive" on an ABC Family show, it's all in the Disney family, isn't it? TV, family values and making money -- what a relationship. After almost three decades of writing about the hypocrisy, lies and hype, it still makes my head spin on some days.

PS A little journalistic footnote. Check out the way the lead sentence in the ABC News story that I linked to validates the claim made by the producer of the ABC family show about Bristol Palin being the "most famous teen mother." Way to go on those journalistic values, Disney and ABC News.

PPS What is a Teen Pregnancy Ambassador anyway? (It's right there at the top of the ABC video I included.) Think about it. Should we now call her Madame Ambassador -- or is this something ABC News just thought up on the fly to lend some justification to treating her like she has some earned prestige and wisdom to share with the nation?