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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, October 09, 2006

Is it that big a deal?

I know I'm going to catch grief - at a minimum from Big Daddy - for the prude count on this opinion, but I was disturbed Saturday to open the newspaper and see a
brief (short story w/no writer's name attached) announcing the recent pregnancy of 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes and her 19-year-old boyfriend of three years.

Hughes was the star of the 2002 film Whale Rider, in which she played an Aboriginal girl competing to become chief of her tribe. She was the youngest actress ever to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

That's all fine and good. Kudos to her for a stellar performance, etc., etc. But should we really be celebrating this underage, unmarried person preparing to give birth?

She was 13 and her boyfriend 16 (they're now 16 and 19) when they became a "couple."

I'm not saying condemn the girl - 'cause that's what she is, a girl, not a woman. But before such stuff is celebrated in the news we should remember two things: that many young people look up to actors and actresses in spite of so many obvious reasons not to, and we already have too many babies being born to impressionable young women who can't take care of them.

Sure, Castle-Hughes is not your average teenager. She probably has a boat load of money, handlers, and a gaggle of other people who care deeply about her or boat load.

But so what? Since when, for example, has reality ever stopped some broke athletic kid from pinning all his future hopes on becoming the next Michael Jordan?

Somewhere out there, this girl has young adoring fans. And among that group someone right now is thinking "if she can be a mom at 16, so can/should I!"


  • I agree with you, so much. But in the galmour life of an actress, you are manipulated so much so one can not call it life at all. Maybe it is her manager who wants to make a new image for some reason. Child acters/actresses are very often abused by their manager and co-workers.(Sorry... I didn't say that...but I meant it, because i know.)
    Poor girl, she is only a child herself.

    By Blogger Kirsten N. Namskau, at 8:24 AM  

  • You have expressed exactly what I have thought. I guess I must be old fashioned or repressed in some way to have a problem with the glorification of children have children. James, you're right-she probably has all the resources needed to help raise a child because of her status, but, unfortunately, the vast majority of teens or tweens don't. How sad.

    By Anonymous dogncatmom, at 9:57 AM  

  • I don't believe either that kids should have kids, but poop happens ... she must've decided she wanted to keep this kid, which she has every right to do. Thing is, if she weren't anything near a celeb, we wouldn't hear about it. Also, people from other countries have different ideas about having kids. Again, I don't agree, but if she decides to keep this kid, it's her business.

    A brief mention, not even bylined, is hardly glorification, it's just a newsbite. In any case, despite her nomination she has kept a low profile and is pretty much on the blist if not lower (which is a good thing). I don't think she'll be having much impact when other major celebs are making fools of themselves and setting bad examples for kids on the front page everyday.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 11:37 AM  

  • There is nothing prude about speaking out regarding a 16 year old becoming a mom. Especially when that 16 year old has been involved with someone for 3 years who is 3 years older than her. Where are her parents and what were they thinking is what I would like to know. I'm by no means an old fart but I'll be damned if my 13 year old is going to date a 16 year old. Though I realize that OTHER cultures may find this acceptable I don't. Children at 13 and even at 16 no matter who much they have accomplished or how mature they seem are not mature enough to handle sexual relations and all that comes with it.

    That's my 2 cents on the subject.

    By Blogger Dayngr, at 1:48 PM  

  • i agree with you that it isn't neccessarily a good thing to glorify this 16 year old's pregnancy.

    however that young adoring fan's decision to become a mother should NOT be keisha's responsibility. in this day and age of celebrity nonsense, we should stop passing the blame buck and start taking onus for our own choices.
    i think we're too quick to toot the "media" horn.

    By Blogger roselle, at 3:00 PM  

  • I was thinking the same thing when I read this story, and, wanted to blog about it. Unfortunately, I'm not as eloquant and would have butchered my own opinion. Good job!

    By Anonymous tony, at 3:11 PM  

  • My grandmother used to call folks like that "trash". Still think it's pretty trashy, but it shows how we've changed as a nation. The kids don't think it's a big deal anymore. I've got a 17 yr old in my morning class who's preggers. No biggie. Not taking her out of class or anything.

    By Blogger Fathairybastard, at 4:22 PM  

  • In my opinion, the article seemed to be more about the actress and less about her "condition." It didn't dwell on her pregnancy at all, and certainly didn't scream out, "Hey Kids! Try This at Home!" Magazines such as People often use events such as pregnancy as a lead in to bring readers up to date on stars having dropped off the public radar. To me, people reading provocation in this article may be a bit misdirected. (Sorry, J!)

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:09 PM  

  • I'm not sure that anyone is actually celebrating anything here...the article seems only to mention the pregnancy. And, I really believe that anyone who gets pregnant at 16 is probably scared witless...possibly she is also horrified at the international spectacle of a very serious, life-altering predicament.

    Besides, I don't think it's reasonable to weigh down any child with the burden of "role model," particularly at an age when life is difficult and confusing enough.

    By Blogger Yvette, at 11:38 PM  

  • I don't know folks. Some of you think I've made more out of the brief than it warranted.

    But "celebrate" in the purest sense of the word means simply to observe something - as in observe a special day, for example.

    And I don't think there should have even been a public observation of a young girl's pregnancy. What was the point?

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:27 AM  

  • All of you missed the fact that 1) the girl is from New Zealand, and 2) She is Maori (or at least part Maori)

    Before you decide to impose your own cultural mores on this girl you should understand that her relationship is sanctioned by her society and is completely normal for Maori in New Zealand. We are the only society that puts up this artifice about age being the only determinor of sexuality. In most eastern cultures, arranged relationships between teens are the norm, not the exception. In fact, I had an old roomate who was Hindi and his grandmother had arranged a marriage for him in India while he had grown up here. He didn't marry the girl (much to granny's chagrin), but the setup happened before he reached puberty. Not saying it's right, just saying our culture is in the minority on marrying an adult for love.

    Had it not been for the movie, no one would know who this girl is. I actually like the fact that she and the baby's father have a solid relationship. If 2 unmarried 16 year olds have a kid and dad works to support the kid, then they're more adult than most of the grown folks I know right now.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 1:32 PM  

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