The teen birthrate in the United States may be down 2 percent, but Americans still have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world—and Bristol Palin, apparently, is trying to do something about it. Now I wouldn’t normally reveal this, but the 19-year-old baby mama Palin’s new anti-pregnancy PSA, produced by the Candies Foundation, for which she is an ambassador, actually gave me goose bumps. I’ll follow that by saying that Law & Order gives me goose bumps, but the point is that the 30-second spot is actually not bad. Part of an ongoing series for National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, it features a freckled Palin, with son Tripp, 1, staring starkly into the camera to ask, “What if I didn’t come from a famous family? What if I didn’t have all their support?” spliced between campaign jeers and the noise of a crying child. She concludes: “Believe me, it wouldn’t be pretty.”
Now, certainly the ad is hypocritical (do as I say, not as I do!), and many have pointed out that it’s also breathtakingly privileged: “I’m rich, so it’s OK that I got pregnant, but you’re not, so don’t!” It also, of course, undermines Palin’s own message. But it’s being watched. And if you can look past all that for the 30 seconds it takes to watch the clip, the sight of the big-haired Palin, looking like a child in adult’s clothes, pearls and blazer and all—flashed between images of her mother’s political campaign and her absent baby daddy Levi Johnston—is kind of, well, sad. As she told Good Morning America this morning, “I just want to let teens know how hard this really is.”
I think her point, and a valid point, is that it’s a hell of a lot harder if you’re not Bristol Palin.