[Kamikaze] Not So Sweet Sixteen | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Kamikaze] Not So Sweet Sixteen

As a hip-hop artist, I often find myself defending rap music. To many, it's the grinch that stole society's soul, the scourge reducing our youth to mindless purveyors of evil. But champion it, I must. It is my chosen profession and one of the things I know how to do very well.

As the father of a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old, however, I've found that parenting is sometimes perplexing. I'm a work-in-progress, and if you saw me trying to referee an argument between my two children, you'd probably think I was a moron. But I do know one thing. I have seen one of the reasons kids today have a skewed view of things. I've looked it right in its eyes, and I now know the enemy: the MTV series "My Super Sweet Sixteen."

It's almost impossible to miss because they play it at least three or four times a week, and sometimes in marathons. But for those of you who haven't seen the show (or those of you lucky enough to not be paying for cable), let me fill you in. "My Super Sweet Sixteen" is a show that follows a 15-year-old as he or she prepares for a "sweet 16" birthday party. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? The only difference is, these aren't your everyday, run-of-the-mill teenagers. All of these kids come from rich families with parents who are prepared to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for their kid's party. It's not enough that they're already well-off, but MTV excessively pumps this "exercise" into millions of American homes—homes that may not be so fortunate.

What's wrong with finding a deserving teen whose parents can't afford a circus elephant or Jermaine Dupri, and helping them enjoy a birthday? That wouldn't make good TV. Every day, we're bombarded with images that tell our kids that rich people are cool. Rich people are the only ones whose lives are exciting enough to be viewed by cable subscribers. Shows like "Cribs," "The Hills" and "The OC" set a bad example for our kids, not to mention a damn high bar for us parents.

I watched a bit of the "My Super Sweet Sixteen" reunion show recently. Never in my life had I seen such a diverse, eclectic group of spoiled brats! Black, white, Indian, Hispanic—they were all equal-opportunity candidates for a good spanking. If you've seen how these kids talk to their parents, friends and the folk hired to plan their parties, you would see that they have learned early on what society has now taught us: If you have money, you can talk to and treat people any way you want.

I've seen these kids humiliate grown men, throw tantrums on camera and embarrass a classmate in public by "uninviting" them to their parties. I've seen a preacher spend $500,000 (yes, a half-million dollars) on his daughter's party. I'm sure someone in his congregation could have used a helping hand.

What example are we setting, people? How do you think a kid feels who works after school every day to help out his family and himself, when he pulls up in his '89 Honda civic next to a girl he just saw on "My Super Sweet Sixteen" driving a bright red Ferrari. She doesn't work, doesn't make good grades in school and disrespects her parents. If he carjacks her, is rap to blame?

In three years, my daughter will be having her sweet 16 party. It probably won't be on MTV, but as sure as I plan on making it a big event, I'm also going to make sure that she understands the virtues of work and responsibility; how to treat people and how to appreciate success; and how your parents can still love you when they're not pressured to buy you a drop-top Mercedes-Benz—even if they can afford it.

And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.

Previous Comments

ID
75876
Comment

“My Super Sweet Sixteen” is a show that follows a 15-year-old as he or she prepares for a “sweet 16” birthday party. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? The only difference is, these aren’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill teenagers. All of these kids come from rich families with parents who are prepared to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for their kid’s party. It’s not enough that they’re already well-off, but MTV excessively pumps this “exercise” into millions of American homes—homes that may not be so fortunate. I think that shows like the one you refer to will make things even harder now that a recession is pending.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-17T17:21:43-06:00
ID
75877
Comment

yeah..for those that cant afford it.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2008-01-17T17:29:06-06:00
ID
75878
Comment

..meaning, a recession won't effect those folks who are featured on the show. They'll still be able to continue the extravagance. Its the ones who couldnt afford the frills in the first place that will suffer as always. Recessions dont hurt the rich.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2008-01-17T17:31:41-06:00
ID
75879
Comment

Word Kamikaze, I have seen that show and its mind boggling. On a couple of occasions the parents spent upwards of 200 grand on the kids, giving them fancy cars and designer fashion goods. Those kids are spoiled rotten and are so painful to watch you really wanna give them the old belt treatment but the worst that seems to happen is that maybe they don't get to go to on the family cruise that week or something equally trivial.

Author
GLewis
Date
2008-01-17T17:38:07-06:00
ID
75880
Comment

..meaning, a recession won't effect those folks who are featured on the show. Yeah, that's what I meant. The ones watching, however, will feel even worse about their situations.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-17T17:40:45-06:00
ID
75881
Comment

You see the one filmed in Hattiesburg? WOW.

Author
QB
Date
2008-01-17T18:07:09-06:00
ID
75882
Comment

charlie murphy...no way can you throw 'an rock at them kids cause if you look at anything else...ie rap videos it says the same thing...now you cant go out and speak of the ill this show does without acknowledging the role pop music plays in it...the lil white girls in memphis that got three-6, the cali kids that got keak, the girl in the A that got young jock...be honest...you cant do this...this is not right...

Author
skipp
Date
2008-01-17T18:54:01-06:00
ID
75883
Comment

but i must say the lil girl in detroit i think...her party was dope and she only got a bike...and a range rover... but hey i mean they tried...

Author
skipp
Date
2008-01-17T19:01:45-06:00
ID
75884
Comment

My best friend says I'm obsessed with hating this show. I stumbled onto it one night when I thought True Life(a wonderful documentary series that MTV produces) was being aired This show represents most of what is wrong with our society. Reward without work. Elitism based on money. Idolization of celebrity. Eck. I don't blame the kids. I blame the parents for putting up with this foolishness.

Author
msgrits
Date
2008-01-17T19:12:33-06:00
ID
75885
Comment

I hate this show. Just about anything on MTV, I hate. Do they show videos anymore? I thought the M in MTV stood for music.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-01-17T19:44:39-06:00
ID
75886
Comment

I hate to turn the tables here. I mean sure, this show is a terrible display of parents overcompensating with gifts and luxuries for whatever reason. And the way they speak to their parents clearly indicate brat-ism. However, there is a bigger issue beneath the surface. What say u about kids who act just as bratty and their parents aren't spoiling them with financial things; but, still allowing them to misbehave, talk to them in a fashion that most of our parents would have done life in prison for, etc.... I guess my concern is for the parents on a whole. The ones on this show and the ones next door who have lost their parental control over these kids. This is what leads to streets raising kids. YOu know why? Because the behavior that parents accept will not be accepted by people outside of their home. And they will be brought down a knotch or so from the idea that they own the world and behave in any way they see fit. So, if a parents would like to regain control of these brats before the streets get them, they must reach back and try and remember how grandma 'em handled them when they misbehaved. So not to take away from your column Kaze, but there is a more relevant idea here than this show. Glad you did this one, maybe a dialogue will be produced. Obviously many parents need to have a conversation such as this one. Just hope that they do before their kids begin getting kicked out of school because teachers REFUSE to deal with all that they've accepted at home from these kids. Ok....i'm done. :-)

Author
Queen601
Date
2008-01-18T09:06:22-06:00
ID
75887
Comment

I must admit, I've watched the show a few times and one amazing thing to comment on is the fact that the kids act that way not only because the parents allow them too but in many instances because the parents themselves behave in that same manner. (The apple never falls far from the tree!)

Author
jan2006
Date
2008-01-18T23:06:13-06:00
ID
75888
Comment

You have a point, jan2006. It's really sad.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-18T23:09:22-06:00
ID
75889
Comment

i prefer the Pimp My Ride variety of opulence.

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2008-01-18T23:19:46-06:00
ID
75890
Comment

It is interesting how the fact of economic prosperity often bestows an air of divine providence upon someone. Wealthy people generally think of themselves in two ways: They are better or harder working and so deserve such prosperity or they literally have the experience of the world revolving around themselves. Has anyone ever seen (i'm gonna get this name wrong) Real Wives of Orange County? It is about a vapid group of self-absorbed women who live "the good life" out in Orange County. Now don't get me wrong. i like them. i am even occasionally entertained to watch them at work in their natural environment. It is a total train wreck. Their world is full of people who sincerely believe that they deserve the very best the world has to offer and seem to honestly feel as though their possessions represent a gauge of their worth. i don't want to judge so i won't say that i pity them. It's just perversely amusing.

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2008-01-18T23:37:05-06:00
ID
75891
Comment

i don't want to judge so i won't say that i pity them. It's just perversely amusing. That's why reality TV is so successful. When you see other people's faults, you don't feel so bad about your own. :-P I would like to see how all these rich, spoiled folks would do on Survivor.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-19T12:09:35-06:00
ID
75892
Comment

Frankly I find most of these reality shows annoying, and I haven’t watched MTV’s reality shows regularly since “Real World Las Vegas”. I still remember the “good ol’ days” when MTV was more interested in showing videos, even if it took an act of Congress to get them to finally show rap and R&B videos. I’ve watched My Sweet Sixteen and Laguna Beach a couple of times and usually turn the channel because the display of vacuous, empty headed, publicity seekers on these shows generally turns my stomach and makes me angry about the state of our culture. And even though I’ve entered the VH1 demographic and tend to watch that channel and its reality shows more often, they are really getting on my nerves with the endless Flavor of Love/I Love New York and other “hoes on parade”-type shows. What irritates me about shows like Sweet Sixteen is having grown up poor I learned early no matter how much you prepare for hard times and try to avoid it, disappointment and failure will come, often through no fault of your own other than lacking the precognitive abilities to see it coming. By contrast, these young brats don't have such concerns and appear to think the world revolves around them because they were blessed to be born into well-off families who can and willingly cater to them. They appear not only have received the best life has to offer, but they've grown to expect it and even feel entitled to it. God bless them, but as these spoiled brats grow older I think it will be harder for them to accept disappointment, rejection and accountability and they may find themselves lost for a minute while trying to cope. Their superficial parents share a bit of the blame for allowing their kids believe parental love is equal to their line of credit. They’re so focused on being *liked* by their kids by catering to their wishes rather than being positive role models and disciplinarians, and IMO have poisoned these kids with a shallow self-image based on instant gratification, materialism and false self-worth (like much of our society). Now honestly, when my little girl turns 16 depending on our financial circumstances if she wants to throw a big coming of age party with her friends, we plan to give it to her. But I’ll be damned if she’s going to run me or her mother with pouty demands for outrageous, expensive accommodations and entertainment. I don’t even think if I were rich I would give in to that, even though I would try hard to give her a party where she and her friends could have a good time. I know teen peer pressure is a mothrf, and when you are that age you feel like image is everything, but I’m trying to teach my kids to look beyond the superficial crap that their friends try to throw at them, that in the end it doesn’t matter what kind of jeans or shoes you wear or how big your house is, that the friends you keep are the ones who don't judge or care about those things.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2008-01-20T12:10:18-06:00
ID
75893
Comment

Yes, let's discuss the more important topic here, how rich folks treat their bratty kids; nevermind the brats down the street or around the corner. A problem that could possibly be addressed and resolved in a more realistic fashion than the kids on an MTV show.

Author
Queen601
Date
2008-01-22T13:36:07-06:00
ID
75894
Comment

I'm glad that I'm not the only person who has a peeve about this show. I can take Queen's note seriously as well, if not more. We've all had to deal with one or more tales of "when I was young, I had to..." Kids these days, following our generation's sometimes laissez-fare attitudes of one or more aspects in life, are less inclined to see the importance of responsibility. Parenting is something that I may or may not have to see but teaching responsibility is something that I HAVE to start doing now, parent or not. I have a young teenaged friend in jail right now and prior to the incarceration there were multiple situations where I could see him not paying ANY attention to what little advice that me and others would offer to him. It's not my [or their] job to turn him around, but it's apparent that without any kind of admonishment things could be a lot worse. (here, the pot is calling the kettle black because my list of get-it-together's is quite long) There's a lot that can go wrong when fundamentals aren't instilled or captured.

Author
lilsoulja
Date
2008-02-06T16:04:07-06:00

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