Bristol Palin takes advantage of system
Teen pregnancy is no fun. Unless, of course, you land on a reality show, like what happened to the delightfully dysfunctional girls of MTV's "16 and Pregnant." Or, you could end up like Bristol Palin, making $262,500 off her participation in programs raising awareness about teenage pregnancy in 2009. On first glance, Palin's willingness to parlay her baby into a moneymaking scheme seems sort of weird, especially considering that she's the daughter of Sarah Palin, one of America's favorite "family values" icons. But, being mad at Bristol Palin would be misguided, because she merely took advantage of what was offered her. The real problem here is the system already in place, which allows someone like Palin to make six figures off her teenage pregnancy. We're talking about both the political climate and the entertainment market.
Palin is part of a political family and a rather right-wing political family at that. As such, her teenage pregnancy came as a bit of an embarrassment for her abstinence-only, down-home common sense-loving mother. Here Sarah Palin was, traveling across the country as the champion of "traditional family values" — a vague, catch-all term whose flaws would need an editorial of their own to point out — and her unmarried, teenage daughter turns out to be with child. Rather than admit that maybe, just maybe, there was a flaw in the Palin-family ethos, Sarah played the role of supportive mother and Bristol began her own "don't-be-like-me" campaign. Bristol Palin's involvement in teenage pregnancy awareness programs seems, from this viewpoint, to be less sincere and more politically motivated.
But it isn't just the political climate which seems to have given Palin the chance to cash in on having a child out of wedlock — it is also the American public's love of watching people make mistakes. As the daughter of a vice presidential candidate, Bristol Palin would have ended up as a minor celebrity no matter what. However, her pregnancy landed her in tabloids across the country, and people ate it up. That's why the "16 and Pregnant" comparison is so salient: Palin, just like MTV, cashed in on what the people want to hear and see. It is as simple as that.
We disagree with Bristol Palin making money off of her child in this way. For whatever reason, it does not sit well with us. However, Palin cannot really shoulder the blame. Let's be honest: Most people, faced with the same chance to make money, would take it. Instead of shaming Palin, we should maybe be shaming ourselves. Why did we decide to eat it up?