When he turned 16, Judge Bill Gibron got a skateboard and some Bic Banana coloring pens. Apparently, he needed to bellyache like the characters on this shallow MTV series in order to get something more status-symbol appropriate—like an AMC Pacer.
I want the world. I want the whole world. And a SUV.
Back in the '60s, parents worried and kvetched over the latest societal status symbol—providing their child with a great big blowout of a birthday party. During those heady halcyon days, clowns and magicians, balloons and party favors were the mark of upward mobility, and the grade-school level recipient was usually too petrified of the extravaganza exploding around them to really give a rat's patoot. It was all a game played by parents for standing within their suburban sanctuary. Fast forward four decades, and your average 15-year-old can think of nothing except their "Sweet 16" party. Like limos and hotel rooms for the prom or luxury SUVs as first cars, postmodern kids see dollar signs as a symbol of their worth among their peer group. As a result, there is a weird one-upsmanship that goes on among certain cash-heavy classes. The competition to have a bigger, better, bragging rights-worthy shindig has become fierce—and some feel, very funny. Thus MTV, that bastion of cultural clarity, has created My Super Sweet 16. Taking us behind the scenes as these elephantine parties are planned, My Super Sweet 16 is supposed to show how privilege provides unlimited dream fodder. Instead, we wind up wishing infinite evils on people who have long since lost the value of money. Now on DVD, My Super Sweet 16: Seasons 1 and 2 features 13 installments of this reprehensible train wreck in all their jaw-dropping hideousness.
Season 1 features the following incomparable brats:
Season 2 expands the cast of cretins to include:
Along the way, we visit the home of Gnarls Barkley member Cee-Lo, partake in many Mediterranean/Arabian themes, experience a couple of stopovers in Sin City, watch as perplexed parents try to out-embarrass their kids in uncouth classlessness, and wonder why, in the name of all that's holy, a vengeful God hasn't made good on his noted unforgiving personality.
My Super Sweet 16 is indeed a show that inspires nothing but hate—pure, molten lead, red-hot rage. Even if you are the most easygoing guy or gal in the history of the known world, this unimaginably loathsome show will have you clubbing kittens with newborn babies while drinking the blood of the innocent in a matter of moments. It produces so much bile inside one's being that each episode should come with a Surgeon General's warning regarding liver failure. All the poisonous snakes in every part of the planet couldn't produce the amount of venom a single minute of this show inspires, and if our government was really serious about ridding the world of terrorism, they'd simply set up big screens over all the Al-Qaeda training camps. A few minutes of this human war crime as veiled wish fulfillment will have even the most confirmed enemy combatant asking for Allah's mercy. If you haven't gotten the point already, this show sucks. It purports to show real people preparing to celebrate a seminal moment in their child's life. It also pretends to highlight how postmodern youths respond to such a personal landmark. In reality, this reckless excuse for excess brings out the worst in its participants, showing them to be petty, abhorrent snobs deluded into believing they are something special. Truth be told, their severe lack of kindness and consideration makes one wonder if they're even members of the human race.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with spending one's money anyway one wants to. After all, you earned it (or you derived it off the back of severely underpaid employees), so you can piss it away if you want. But a good rule of thumb to follow would be this: If you don't want the rest of the civilized world wishing you and your god-awful spoiled seed a slow and incredibly painful death, perhaps you shouldn't let camera crews follow you around as you arrogantly flaunt your status. Not everyone can afford to fly to Paris to buy the preening dipstick teen queen the equivalent of an overpriced prom dress, and, last time anyone checked, pretending to be a celebrity doesn't equate with actual fame. Just because you can pick and choose who can come to your Arabian Nights-themed extravaganza doesn't make you a VIP—unless the initials stand for vapid, insipid, and pathetic. In perhaps the one true bit of real-world authenticity offered, most of our aging adolescents want wheels for their birthday. After all, 16 is that magical age when freedom seems a Firebird away. But even the notion of auto-mobility is lost on these ungrateful trolls. If the car in question isn't some six-digit disaster that's guaranteed to increase our dependency on OPEC for more and more fossil fuels, it's a symbolic substitute for a real sense of propriety and place among others.
Again, the rich have always been considered different from the rest of the world, and My Super Sweet 16 definitely confirms this. In fact, it's safe to say that these well-to-do are borderline antichrists, each demonic clan spitting forth its own horrifying hellspawn into the mainstream firmament. Sure, MTV tries to undermine these arrogant dingleberries by editing each episode to increase their outrageous behavior. And there are several instances where the parents deserve more censure than the completely clueless DNA dump they took in the communal commode. But one can't help but feel that, somewhere in the less-than-perfect personal space of some desperate and alienated teen, this warped view of individual worth looks like something to actually strive for. After all, we are even introduced to a former foster child who lived in cockroach-covered poverty until her adoptive parents provided her with a life only available in the movies. In an instant, she develops a bad case of exaggerated snootiness and is capable of crushing the feelings of individuals who actually grew up in secure family environments. If that's not the ultimate statement of how money changes everything—and everyone—then My Super Sweet 16 is just not doing its job.
As entertainment, this series is nothing but frustrating. All a TV viewer gets is whiny melodramatics, ungrateful hissy fitting, and the look of smug satisfaction on plastic surgery faces when the first two facets lead to an overpriced present. The parents are portrayed as limited in both their morality and ability to say "No!," and there's an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog feel to the participants and their posse. No one is questioning the validity of these so-called rights of passage. After all, for generations, the socially upward have used the party format to introduce their children to fiscally acceptable mates, and other cultures (Latin, Jewish) have turned the maturation process into a series of celebratory festivals. But the main sin My Super Sweet 16 commits—among an entire catalog of abominations—is the validating of selfish, egomaniacal behavior. It shows otherwise normal kids that by playing the diva (or, Lord helps us, the "divo")and offering petulance as a solution to everything, rewards and acceptance can easily be yours. If the world wants to know why skank-zillas—Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan—are the car accidents du jour in the current media, they need look no further than this disgusting show.
For its part, Paramount and MTV does something odd with this series. Providing each season on its own DVD, this two-disc set will have My Super Sweet 16 completists complaining loud and strong. It appears that the shows have been doctored a little. A new set of title cards announces that "sometimes, 16 ain't so sweet" while the familiar Hilary Duff theme song has been replaced by an equally generic track. In addition, a typical 22-minute episode is now truncated to 20-plus minutes. This may be standard Music Television time formatting, but certain installments are apparently missing moments from their first runs. Since it's "caught on the fly" (supposedly) using handheld video cameras, the 1.33:1 full-screen image has the occasional grain and digital defect. The colors are slightly oversaturated and the overall look is glossy and sickening slick. The Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix, on the other hand, is fairly consistent. Dialogue is discernible, and the bumper score is always blaring away with TRL-tested sounds. As for added content, each disc contains a "bonus" episode from Season 3 (Disc 1—someone named Chelsie, Disc 2—a quinceanera for Alexa). Nothing new or novel here, just more of the same. In addition, there are trailers for other MTV offerings including a Super Sweet 16 movie and DVD sets of other network shows.
Veruca Salt once said/sang it best when she proclaimed "I want the world. I want the whole world." Sadly, the nut heiress could take lessons in adolescent avarice from these clueless biological atrocities. Unless you can find the schaudenfreuda subtext buried inside each of these amazingly inappropriate revelries, avoid My Super Sweet 16. The less attention paid to this entire misguided mindset, the better. Guilty, but no pleasure.
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