Oxygen is planning to air a one-hour special (likely the prelude to an ongoing reality show) called "All My Babies' Mamas" that revolves around Shawty Lo, a rapper, and the 10 unwed mothers who gave birth to his 11 children.
The Parents Television Council has voiced strong opposition to the show, which they consider exploitative.
And writer Sabrina Lamb has started a petition on change.org urging Oxygen to cancel the show. The petition has over 20,000 signatures.
Like any reality show that showcases children when they cannot truly give their consent in any meaningful way, "All My Babies' Mamas" exploits the circumstances of these children for the narcissistic gratification and financial gain of their parents and for network profits.
Reasonable people can argue about whether being one of 11 children born to a man who created them with 10 women will turn out well or badly. I suppose being one of 11 kids whose father supports them and really loves them is better than being one of 2 kids whose married parents beat them and emotionally abuse them. I can imagine that one of those 11 kids could end up as a great leader or great artist, because if a person is truly loved nothing else probably matters as much -- even a bizarre family architecture. I certainly think that being the biological child of two parents -- even under these rather bizarre circumstances--could be better than being the product of anonymous sperm donation or ovum donation, which entirely cuts that child off from his or her biological roots, and which millions of Americans inexplicably seem to think is just wonderful.
But the willingness of Lo and his sexual partners to turn their children's lives into a media circus is very good evidence that they do not have their children's best interests at heart. Not surprisingly, it means that the lack of consideration for what it might mean to try to integrate 10 half-siblings into one's life (which happens to be each of these children's plight) wasn't really based on a philosophy of boundless love, but on a philosophy that put the needs of Mr. Lo and his 10 women far above those of their 11 sons and daughters. It means that, far more likely than not, they worship themselves, and are part of the cult of narcissism that is spreading like an epidemic throughout our culture.
As for the Oxygen network, someone should clue them in (just like Lifetime TV and lots of other networks) that making children live out highly dramatized versions of their existences, for public consumption, actually robs them of their real-life stories and is an abomination. Any executive who has a hand in such an enterprise is acting callously and putting cash above compassion, period.
There is, simply put, no compelling need that can justify the commandeering of a person's childhood for the financial gain of parents who are high (word choice intentional) on the idea of having their names and likenesses publicized. And there is no defense for a television producer or executive who thinks that that's okay, because there's an audience for it and money to be made.
Shawty Lo and his women and the producers of 'All My Babies' Mamas' and the TV executives who green-lighted it lack respect for the lives of children. That's just how it is. And that, my friends, is the reality of the situation.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.