Culture > Television

All about Chelsi

Television | Narcissism runs amuck on MTV birthday show

Issue: "Jerry Falwell," May 26, 2007

If teenage girls are pushing more and more for extravagant 16th birthday parties, MTV's My Super Sweet 16 may be a leading reason-supercharged materialism joined with bad parenting and affluence. Each week, the program chronicles a future bridezilla preparing for a party-of-a-lifetime on Daddy's dime. The parties are usually wildly expensive-sometimes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars-and yet the birthday girls never seem satisfied with the adulation.

One such disaffected girl is Chelsi, a New Jersey teen who plans to celebrate with a Roman-style toga party. "It's my party so I just want it to be about me," she says in a voiceover before launching into an argument with her father about whether she'll get a car for her birthday. Even though her father tells her she could either have the huge party or the new car, she's angling for both. Father: "I've been fair with you. . . . I've given you everything you've ever wanted." Chelsi: "Why should you stop now?"

When things don't go Chelsi's way, she interprets the slight not as a personal offense but as a diminution of her character in the eyes of her friends. As Chelsi tries on a hideous green dress, her friends go against her mother's advice and tell Chelsi the truth. Chelsi doesn't have to agree; it's enough that her friends don't like it. Their approval is paramount. Chelsi is happiest when she feels like her friends are jealous of her.

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Pulling away in her new car, Chelsi is beaming: "I'm definitely going to be a legend." Yeah, but of what?

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