BACK IN THE DAY, before Twitterbots and energy drinks and Justin Bieber drag shows, television was a shimmering marvel of art, a reflection of contemporary culture beamed into the homes of happy families across America.
In this age of yore, television was filled with family-friendly fare, programs with moral integrity, like fat white racists demeaning their wives from their recliners, melting-pot families where step brothers and sisters hide their shameful attractions to each other, and police procedurals where the criminal was always African American or Latino.
As the number of networks grew, so did the need for additional programming to fill the airwaves, airwaves which soon became digital forums of endless channels. Eventually, taste and morality gave way to exploitation as the demand for the next big show took over giving birth to The Bachelor, and John and Kate Plus 8, and that show where midgets Mormons marry non-midgets. And just when you thought television couldn’t stoop any lower, networks began to exploit children. Toddlers and Tiaras, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager have all become hit TV shows exploiting innocence and the fact that any asshole can be a parent. Across America children are being encouraged to dress like hookers, to believe their thoughts are important, and to have unsafe sex and then call MTV at the moment of conception. Always on the cutting edge of culture, The Smoking Jacket humbly pitches 5 new shows to further exploit children and teens.
“In this age of yore, television was filled with family-friendly fare, programs with moral integrity, like fat white racists demeaning their wives from their recliners.”
1) 15 and Promiscuous
Call this one the prequel to 16 and Pregnant. Teen girls from across the country are encouraged to have unprotected sex with many partners outfitted in Juicy jogging pants and Uggs while followed by a camera crew. Meanwhile, another crew will follow teen boys around as they try and impregnate as many girls as possible as they burst forth into manhood. All two minutes of intercourse will be recorded and available as webisodes. Each season finale will consist of sonograms and paternity tests, as well as public shaming of the parents.
2) 17 and Hammered
One glaring omission from television these days is the appalling lack of underage alcohol abuse. 17 and Hammered would aspire to fill that void. Teens would be encouraged to drink copious amounts of tallboys and Four Loko while attempting to carry on the everyday minutiae of their lives: going to work at McDonalds, mowing the lawn, and trying to score with other teens. You think kids are stupid as it is? Wait until they drink a bottle of Jack Daniels while a camera crew eggs on both their drinking and sense of self-worth. Great opportunity for crossover episodes with 15 and Promiscuous.
3) Tweaked Tweens Say the Darndest Things!
One of the great rights of passage of youth is experimenting with drugs, and why shouldn’t that experience be captured by a television crew and then edited into a 12-episode series? This show has hit written all over it, as 15- to 18-year-olds take tabs of acid, MDMA, or ketamine and then go to a rock concert, or ask their parents for advice, or just sit on a couch and talk about their feelings while trying to eat their own faces. Nothing is more adorable than an innocent child entertaining the masses with their inherent truth and purity, right? Why not amp it up with horse tranquilizers and a trip to the local YMCA? The show pretty much writes itself.
4) Bad Decisions
Adolescence is an optimal time for poor life choices because one still has their whole lives ahead of them to try and fix their mistakes. To not follow teens around encouraging them to make bad decisions and film it in order to exploit it in a weekly TV series would be a disservice to the public. How will kids learn if this show isn’t out there capturing their peers getting tattoos of naked women in martini glasses holding shotguns, or piercing their scrotums, or stealing money from a church? Hell, there are still many states where it’s legal to get married at 14, including Arizona, Texas, and the Carolinas, among other. In New Hampshire you can be 13. Live Free or Die? I’ll say!
5) Preschoolers on Patrol
Toddlers and Tiaras promotes exploiting children by dressing them up like 18-year-old prostitutes and parading them in front of inbred pedophiles in order to attempt to solve their parents’ self-esteem issues and win $30 is gift certificates to WalMart. But instead of perpetuating a culture of bad decisions and unpaid therapist bills, why not exploit children in a manner which helps society? Why not put children to work as police officers? Kids love to play cops and robbers, so why not let them do it for real? What’s more adorable than a 4-year-old in a little police uniform with a loaded .45 and suspect understanding of right and wrong? If Toddlers and Tiaras can crush the spirits of 3-year-olds by outfitting them like transvestite strippers leading to a life of self-destruction and crime, then Preschoolers on Patrol can get 4-year-olds to clean up the mess. Or die trying in a hail of gunfire.
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).