I chose to live twee Teen Mom 3, as a result of previous class discussions on the representation of the family, and our particular focus on MTV’s Teen Mom. In class we discussed how the participants throughout the 3 series of the show are often coded as being white trash due to a lack of education, having a propriety towards violence, and an interpreted lacking fiscal responsibility. Additionally, we touched on the show’s homonormativity, and the participants, particularly the moms, striving to assert what a family are, considering the hierarchy shift and gender division of labor.
As I scoured the vast expanse of Twitter, I did not notice any tweets expressing homophobia, sexism, or racism, however I did notice a large prejudice of in terms of highbrow vs. lowbrow. Many tweeters were critical of the “garbage” that Teen Mom is, and how it was something that needed to be taken off the air, because it is seen as “trashy.” Although the majority of tweets were overwhelmingly negative in nature about the show itself, some tweeters did actively resist this dominant perception of Teen Mom being low culture, by expressing how the show was “their form of birth control.” I believe that this is particularly important because it brings to light just how paramount and different intent vs. reception and overall interpretation by the masses may be. Although MTV’s original goal was to provide an inside look to teen pregnancy, and provide young audiences with the tools and information to prevent pregnancy, whilst promoting safe sex, the dominant interpretation of the series, as well as the precursor of 16 and Pregnant is vastly different. I believe that it is also necessary to examine how there is a large notion that pop culture is not dialectical, and thus is lowbrow, and more importantly, not as important or as valuable as classical art. This however is a myth. Pop culture is dialectical, and might actually be even more so than traditional cultural texts. Pop culture, such as Teen Mom, offers a direct insight of what is happening within a culture and within a group of people. It is directly reflective of what is popular in the moment, and is still very much a conversation, that instills and reciprocates certain ideologies, and is able to reach an enormous amount of people directly through various means. This concept of highbrow vs. lowbrow culture is socially constructed, with value being arbitrarily assigned, and is a prime example of socially condoned bigotry.
As I sifted through hundreds of tweets, I did notice that there was a particular demographic. There was about a 3:1 ratio between female to male tweeters that were critical of the show, and only female tweeters who actively resisted the dominant reading of this text. I think that on both behalves occurred because the show is more female oriented, and pregnancy as a whole is affects women more physically. Additionally, I believe that this might have occurred as a result of certain cultural and normalized gender roles that paint women to be the main caregivers, and men as more support figures, if they are even “in the picture.” I believe that many people decided to tweet what they did, not to be mean or because they have something innately against teen pregnancy, but rather because it was a combination of their beliefs and feels at the time based off of the text. I think that this is something that is inherent, and quickly becoming second nature as technology continues to develop and is increasingly able to connect us with millions of people around the world in a matter of seconds. Having never watched and tweeted before simultaneously, this was an interesting experience that showed me what the perception of the show was as it was being aired across the country, besides just having my own interpretation, and those of whomever I may be watching with.
Finally, I would just like to touch on another sub trend that I noticed whilst searching Twitter, being the trend of teen girls assuming the persona of being teen moms. These girls have created online personas of themselves as teen moms, and tweet photos of themselves with baby dolls, which they pass off as being their actual child. These users have created in a sense fan bases for themselves, and are also very active on instagram, often calling themselves “instamommies.” In regard to this, I ask myself if this is a result of shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, which have in a sense glorified teen pregnancy, and airing dirty laundry for money as well as short-term fame.