Chances are you’ve watched MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” Chances are you don’t want to admit it. But, in case you are one of the few out there who hasn’t seen the show, the basic premise is that extremely rich teenagers throw extravagant birthday parties, or Quinceaneras, to celebrate their “coming-of-age.” They go to a party planner, pick out an expensive dress or suit (it’s not just about girls), whine about something, pass out invitations to their friends usually by way of limo, whine about something else, kick someone out of their party over a silly grudge, whine a little bit more, find out their parents have gotten them the $90,000 Jaguar that they so desperately wanted, scream for joy and live happily ever after.
“Sweet Sixteen” not only drives home the point that money can get you anything, but also that “competing for the best,” which is something most 16 year olds are quite good at, is important in daily life. For example, in one of the last episodes I saw, Nikki knew that another girl, Priscilla, was going to have a party three weeks after hers and knew how important it was for her party to be ten times better than Priscilla’s. When she found out Priscilla was going to have actual fire breathers to go along with her Polynesian themed party, Nikki knew she just had to have them too. And when Priscilla mentioned she was going to have Pitbull perform at her party, somehow Pitbull ended up playing at Nikki’s party too, although she claimed she didn’t know he was going to be there. I’m not kidding.
I remember the first episode I saw back when I was a na’ve little youngster, some two years ago. It was about Ava’s birthday bash and I was so sure that it was a one-episode special that MTV was doing about a rich girl’s birthday party. The skimpy red dress, the posh Range Rover, the four cute guys carrying her into her party on a throne – surely this would not be a regular series. Soon after, I realized I was wrong, and the episodes kept coming. And coming. And coming. It freaked me out in way. I mean, when I was younger birthday parties were about watching movies with your friends and binging on cake and ice cream. I don’t really remember shopping for a dress at Christian Dior in France, or running out to my driveway and screaming when my Mercedes Benz pulled up on a red carpet.
And it wasn’t just the cars that freaked me out on “Sweet Sixteen.” It was the party entrances by helicopter, the fashion shows during the parties, the VIP rooms, the thousand dollar dresses, the special birthday parades and of course the dyed pink poodles at Marissa’s “pretty in pink” themed party.
Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a birthday party may seem like a lot for most families, but for these kids, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
In fact, many of them don’t even realize how much their parents spent on their party because they’re too busy worrying about party crashers and not embarrassing themselves in any way, because they’d “OMG just die!”
Of course, this is only MTV’s version of the sweet sixteen. There’s the popular 80’s film Sixteen Candles that portrays them in a completely different light. Because of all the attention surrounding her sister’s wedding, Samantha Baker’s sweet sixteen is completely forgotten about. Not in today’s world, though.
The immediate reaction you get from this show is that today’s teenagers are self-absorbed and only care about material possessions. For the most part this theory is proven true. The puzzling thing is that these are parties that are supposed to celebrate one’s maturity into adulthood when in reality, it’s somewhat of the opposite that comes out. Of course, it’s also puzzling that people like myself actually take an interest in this show. Then again, they are just parties, a time for teens to let loose and have fun – and make complete fools of themselves on television.
Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.