We thought she was the good Spears. Sure, Jamie Lynn looked like her big sis in an uncanny Mini-Me sort of way. But tabloids had released nary an underage boozing photo, and "Zoey 101," her Nickelodeon show, was downright wholesome -- especially compared with the jailbait "Baby One More Time" video that Britney was touting at 16. Jamie Lynn was, yes, a role model ...
The public can accept a lot from Hollywood. But a rotund teenager on the red carpet, displaying the gestating results of that early sexualization of girls you've heard too much about? Let's just call it the boundary test between societal acceptance and condemnation.
Actually, let's just call it condemnation. Like others covering this story, Hesse cast verbal stones at Spears, not least because of her hypocrisy. Besides starring in a wholesome TV show, Spears met her baby papa in ... church. Oh, the double standard!
Hesse also cast stones at Spears for giving scandal to the faithful -- her faithful fans, that is:
But questions of career rebounds aside, the larger issue at hand is how the pregnancy will resound with teen girls around the country.
"It's interesting to note that Jamie Lynn has a good-girl image," says Jessica Sheets of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "It's a message that girls should be getting." Message received: Good girls get baby bumps, too.
As you might have guessed, my problem with Hesse's
condemnation story is that it's a secular morality tale and little else. Hypocrisy, sin, giving scandal to the faithful, casting stones -- where have we heard of those before?
To be sure, teenage pregnancy is a major secular concern. But Hesse and other reporters should have examined the religious angle to this story, especially considering that Spears and her boyfriend met in church. What does their pastor have to say about Spears' pregnancy? What does Spears' Baptist faith have to say about premarital sex?
I don't mind the Narrative of the Fallen Teen Role Model. But don't ignore the Parable of the Woman Caught in Adultery.
Meanwhile, there is one other little issue to clear up in many of the mainstream reports. It appears that the oh-my-gosh-isn't-that-ironic "parenting book" that evangelical mega-publisher Thomas Nelson was about to publish by Lynn Spears wasn't going to be a parenting advice book. Editor & Publisher notes:
Now the house is clarifying one point it claims the press missed from the beginning: the book in question is not a parenting title, as it has often been cited by in the media.
"From the onset, the media have inaccurately reported that Lynne Spears' book is a parenting book. I'm sure this helps fuel tabloid readership, but it is simply not true," explained Nelson president and CEO Michael Hyatt in a statement.
The book, which a rep at the house confirmed has not been canceled but "delayed indefinitely," will not, as the publisher notes, offer advice on child-rearing from the mom of fallen pop princess Britney Spears, but, rather, stand as a memoir about raising kids thrust into the spotlight. It will, as the publisher describes, "provide a window into the real-life world of fame and worldly success, including the toll it extracts from some who aspire to it."
Duly noted. We can assume that it will now feature a new chapter or two.