Hollywood, CA - Every modern generation has had its own set of problems coping with teen runaways, and although it is still taboo in America and not at all encouraged by the adult population--wait, or is it? The latest trend on television from news shows to cable series seems to be to capture runaways in the act of running away and exploiting them for their stories.
Back in the days of the original teen exodus to San Francisco in search of peace and flower power, news of the runaways was just that, news. We barely saw snippets of drug clinics and crash houses, etc. on the evening news as we ate our TV dinners in front of the TV. Documentaries were few and far between and didn't really document the problem until years later after all the runaways had grown up and gotten jobs in mainstream America.
The new way of doing things, however, is to not only report on the teens' comings and goings but to allow them to show us the whole dirty side of running away, from drug use to teenage pregnancy to stealing and squatting and dumpster diving, to really bad dialogue that only reality television can provide.
Said one teen girl on such a show between puffs on a bong, "yeah, me an Mikey, we wanna get us a nice place to live, and have a baby and maybe even get jobs. It's just so hard for us right now (hack hack, cough cough). Although, I think I might be carrying Mikey's baby right now," she smiles into the camera.
Her friend, Sasha, agrees, "if they would just not allow us in the shelters, maybe we'd do something with our lives, but when they have places we can go to shower and eat and sleep, it doesn't allow us to take care of ourselves on the street like we should. They just shouldn't be helping us that way, you know?"
Many of the teens come from middle-class families but are having a hard time assimilating into the whole family life thing. Many have mental and social disorder issues that are documented on the shows, and the amazing thing is, when you watch, you see them going through their daily lives bragging about stealing, or discussing where their next high is coming from, or showing off their latest tattoos received from homeless tattoo artists in the park using the same needles over and over and over again, but yet not one of these shows follows the teens into a mental health clinic to receive some much needed drug counseling or psychiatric counseling.
Truth be told, reality television is not really interested in these kids and helping them out of their circumstances. What reality television is interested in is advertising money, and there's plenty to be made when you're selling the seedy side of life. God forbid they get help and disappear from the streets. Then what the hell would we watch?