Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

sweet16forIC.jpgMany years ago, when the first episode of MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen” aired, I thought that the network had taken a daring step by reflecting this generation’s craven consumerism and narcissism back at them with the depictions of half-a-million dollar birthday parties and teens with no concept of the value of money or hard work.
OK, so the reflection was subtle, but it was there in the editing; a knowing wink directing our attention to the ludicrousness of the lifestyles of the rich and pubescent, and the parents who indulge it. But instead of being a learning experience, the first season spawned six more seasons of one-upmanship with flashier gifts and bigger musical guests. (I’ve only seen one episode in which the three gals celebrating asked their guests to donate to a charity in lieu of gifts.)


So, imagine my surprise when I saw that the producers of “Sweet Sixteen” have revisited some of the worst offenders and have, in conjunction with their parents, decided to send them to poverty-stricken parts of the world to see how the other half lives in a show called “Exiled.”
I applaud MTV for finally taking the other tack and showing some socially responsible spine. Of course that social responsibility will be mixed with sensationalism; previews indicate that the teens will be called “lazy” and “rude” by their hosts and that teens, like kids, will say the darndest things–Cee-Lo’s ( of Gnarls Barkley) daughter Sierra asks before her trip to Africa, “Why do I have to live with a tribe? Why can’t I stay with rich people?” But that’s what makes for good reality television and that’s what will keep people watching, and hopefully, learning.
“Exiled” premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. on MTV.

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