Blood, shadows, a pregnant woman screaming…the below trailer looks like it’s teasing some kind of It’s Alive knock-off. But it’s really a promo spot for the “horror film” 2028, one of fifteen anti-teen pregnancy spots sponsored by the United Way of Milwaukee’s Healthy Girls organization.
Hoping to deglamorize Bristol Palin-type pregnancies, the trailers end with the message, Get pregnant as a teen and the next 18 years could be the hardest of your life,” and a Web address for BabyCanWait. The campaign’s print ads are no less subtle with their “images of teen boys with pregnant bellies and a baby diaper with a brown scratch-n’-sniff spot.”
And while BabyCanWait isn’t per se of an abstinence-only mindset (they provide information about STDs and contraception), Broadsheet’s Tracy Clark-Flory (breathlessly) wonders:
Are these shock-and-awe tactics the best way to reach kids? While I sympathize with the goal, and appreciate the clear and creative commitment to it, something about the trailer didn’t sit well with me.
For one thing, horror movies are glamorous, too. (Older) teens and women like Saw, say. Not saying it’s aspirational, but the genre itself is seen as a double-dog-dare lark, not a cautionary tale about (say) losing your virginity at summer camp REE! REE! REE! You know? So there’s that. There’s also something about it that contributes to an ugly stigma. Teen mothers as screaming bloody victims. The baby as some sort of evil spawn. Or something like that. Ick. Not helpful.
Finally, I don’t think kids are running around getting (people) pregnant because Bristol and Jamie Lynn made it look so, like, cute. Or even just because ADULTS ARE LYING TO THEM ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL, which they are. There are so many naive, misguided, melancholy, ironic reasons that teens want to get pregnant, be parents. They’ve seen their sisters and brothers and friends do it. And it’s hard hard hard. But based on what’s become normal to them it’s not a horrorshow. I’m not sure you can convince them it is in a one-minute trailer when the rest of their life says otherwise.