Terrance Heath

Famous For Reproducing

Filed By Terrance Heath | June 21, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin

Quelle suprise. Bristol Palin took the “fall down drunk, get up pregnant” route to parenthood.

Zero Tolerance for Clowns

Bristol Palin writes in her new book of losing her virginity to boyfriend Levi Johnston on a camping trip after getting drunk for the first time on too many wine coolers.

She awoke in her tent, alone, with no memories of what had happened as Johnston “talked with his friends on the other side of the canvas.” She had vowed to wait until marriage. And she had lied to her parents about where she was going.

Palin, a 20-year-old single mother and the daughter of former Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, tells a story of “deception and disappointment” in the book, “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far.”

The memoir, co-written with Nancy French, is scheduled for publication by William Morrow this week. The Associated Press purchased a copy Friday.

I just have a couple of things to say.

First, I’ll just repeat what I said around the time the whole Jon & Kate mess exploded. Why are people famous just for reproducing?

The entire time the Octomom saga played out in headlines and newscasts, I thought about continuing this series. Only, every time Id get started, thered be another revelation. At some point, I got tired of trying to keep up. I kept it in the back of my mind, though.

To tell the truth, Ive never watched Jon & Kate Plus 8, except for a few minutes when I stopped in the middle of channel surfing and caught a few minutes of it. I didnt know why, but something about the show creeped me out. I couldnt put my finger on it. But when the allegations about his affair, then her alleged affair, then her alleged violent rages, his alleged lack of ambition, her tummy tuck and nose job, his hair plugs, and the difference between the reality of their marriage and the facade presented on television, I found myself asking Why are these people famous? All they did was have babies, and have more at one time than most people.

These people are famous for reproducing?

That’s what it takes to become famous these days? I mean, why else would we have ever heard of Bristol Palin? Sure, her mom was plucked from obscurity and foisted upon the nation by John McCain (who should be working of that karma for several lifetimes, if you ask me), and has hung around like like a bad smell you can’t find the source of. But even granting that, we’d never have heard Bristol’s name if the Palin pregnancy rumors that started right after Palin’s nomination hadn’t led to the discovery of Bristol’s pregnancy.

Being the 16-year-old daughter of a vice presidential nominee might have made Bristol more well known than if the whole Palin clan had stayed in Wasila. However, being the pregnant 16-year-old daughter of a vice presidential candidate made her a star. Besides her mom’s reality show, she’s appeared in an episode of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (about teen pregnancy, of course), and of course there was her surprisingly long stint on “Dancing With the Stars”, even as she consistently got the lowest scores from the judges, while more talented dancers were shown the door.

She was on the show because she’s Bristol Palin. She’s Bristol Palin because her mom is Sarah Palin, and because she reproduced.

To be fair here, Bristol’s not the only one who got famous as a result of fecundity. Like the song says, “It takes two.” And Levi Johnston has worked far more than 15 minutes of fame out of what we know know was probably 15 minutes (it can’t possibly have taken much longer than that) of drunken teenage fumbling that would have remained unknown to the world until fate intervened in the form of the McCain campaign.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind looking at Levi Johnston. But why is this guy famous?

Despite having no more apparent talent than Bristol, Levi’s resume now includes a commercial for pistachios, a photo spread and feature in GQ magazine, another in Vanity Fair, and of course a Playgirl spread. He’s even shopped around his own reality show, to be based on a run for Mayor of Wasila. (Nothing’s been heard about it since it was announced, though. I think it was quietly shelved by the production company.)

It’s ironic when you think about it, really. Levi Johnston’s johnson made his career when he used it to impregnate his teenage girlfriend. Anthony Weiner’s weaner destroyed his career when he tweeted a picture of it to a young woman he’d never met.

Now, of course, he’s got his own book coming out, Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs.

Bristol Palin’s baby-daddy, Levi Johnston, wrote a book to be published this fall that will set the “record straight” about his relationship with the Palins.

“I want to tell the truth about my close relationship with the Palins, my sense of Sarah, and my perplexing fall from grace how I feel and what I’ve learned,” Johnston said in a statement. “I’m doing this for me, for my boy Tripp and for the country.”

Johnston, the former long-time boyfriend of former Republican Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol, has publically feuded with the Palins. Bristol recently moved to Arizona with their son.

Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster will publish “Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs” in the fall, according to a press release from the publishers. They are billing it as a coming of age story.

A “coming of age story”? Coming of age? This is the other thing that bugs me about this. At the risk of sounding like an old fart (yes, I will eventually join that club, but not just yet) at 21 (him) and 20 (her) these two are still “coming of age.” Maybe it’s me, but putting out a memoir in your early twenties is like putting out “greatest hits” collection after one hit single. Even if you factor in the story of two American teenagers doing what millions of American teenagers do, who — having done it — were suddenly caught in the national spotlight, there’s still no “there” there if you ask me. A long magazine article would more than suffice, but as life stories go, it’s a bit thin for a book.

But fame monster requires constant feeding. So Bristol cashes in on having gotten pregnant, and Levi cashes in on having gotten Bristol pregnant. He’s too young to have a book deal (yet), but let’s hope Tripp at least gets a college fund out of it. Maybe he didn’t make his parents famous, but they got famous because they conceived him.

There’s no other reason we should ever have known their names, after all. Not because of an great talent. And certainly not because of any great achievements. They just happened to have functioning reproductive organs, and used them.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

(Crossposted at Republic Of T)

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I find the opening sentence of this post highly offensive. Getting drunk and waking up with no memory of what happened is called rape, and in the opening line of the post the rape is treated as a joke, and also treated as if it were Bristol Palin's fault. I would expect more sensitivity from the Bilerico Project.

Amen. I may not agree with her family's politics, but it is never okay to pass judgement on a girl who woke up confused and not aware that someone had sex with her. You may not like what she is choosing to do with her fifteen minutes of fame, but don't make light of what happened to her.

I'll jump in line on this one. As a rape survivor with a very similar encounter, I can only say this is not only unprofessional and inappropriate, it's shameful. Whatever our views on the Palin family, their politics, or Bristol's newfound fame, this is unacceptable at best.

Bristol Palin IS using this fifteen minutes of fame (and so is her family), in such a way it's extremely difficult to take her seriously. Perhaps this WAS a rape, but Ms. Palin isn't treating like that. And especially, NEITHER is her family. Her mother has had the power, and apparently is vindictive enough of a woman to have done something about it, were this a non consentual sexual encounter. Or...Bristol Palin was in denial about her own complicity in this situation and downplayed her own part in it.
Whatever the case, she's had FAR more options than any other young girl in her situation. And she's not an advocate against statutory rape or non consent sexual activity.
And she's setting exactly the wrong example for the same reason.

Mr. Heath,

Your story, which focuses on the benefits that this young woman who's parent opposes pretty much everything I believe in (pretty much, not all) has received from what was an act of non-consensual sex (which is a term I'm using to be gentle with you until I use the more accurate one in a bit) is extremely offensive and horrifically insensitive.

Rape is not a laughing matter, as your opening suggests, and it is certainly not something for which Bristol is either gaining benefit (that comes from being her parent's child) or coming to terms the absolutely still real fact of she was raped by the person that was shortly after touted as her "soon to be husband" (no wonder someone recently decried the death of the shotgun marriage -- they must have been thinking about this).

Seriously? I am not a big commenter on your stuff, but generally speaking I like what you write and I agree with most of your overall point of views, but this is an incredibly demeaning, sexist, victim blaming piece that fundamentally breaks the terms of service in the first line.

I'm not doing this to chime in, either -- I've had a busy day dealing with my organization, which just so happens to include rape counseling and victim advocacy for domestic violence, into which both categories this young woman's expereince falls.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Nor do I care that she is a child, and it doesn't matter if she's some twit's daughter. I'd say the same thing if michelle Bachmann came out with a similar tale because this isn't a political deal, this is a person's life.

If you had wanted to truly write a piece about this, the angle I would have suggested (which I get to do in restrospect, so it's not entirely fair to you to say) would be to nore the following, all of which I can glean from just the little bit you provided above:

Her mother covered up a crime. One committed while she was governor of Alaska, from what I can surmise based on timeline.

She was raped by a little prick who has been gaining fame and recognition (including some from this community, no less) for committing that crime and then running away from a near marriage that was essentially foisted on him.

She was used by her mother as a political football (which this is *continuing* to do), instead of stopping to attend to the very real, very serious needs of her daughter.

All of which calls into question the degree of agency involved in this young girls life so far -- how much of this has been her doing and how much the work of her mother's ongoing campaign for the 2016 election season?

Any *one* of those would have been enough to be a worthy piece from you -- I've read some stuff from you that had me in tears, and other stuff that had me leaping to try anything to help make something better.

This is simply depressing.

Made worse by the fact you did sorta kinda put something in there about the *rapist* in question, but blew it.

I am not merely upset at this; I am agahst.

That lede wasn't merely bad. It was misogynistic.

Couldn't have said it better myself, Antonia! Thank you.

Gaytorguy | June 22, 2011 4:14 PM

I agree, it was date rape, statutory rape, non-consensual sexual encounter or rape. MAYBE Mr. Heath was paraphrasing the advance copy's statement of what occurred. Maybe it is his words alone. I do not know. I would have to read the book to find out.
It is true enough that as the governor of a state, Sarah Palin could very well have had the law arrest the boy and have his locked away on a sexual predator list lickety-split. But she didn't. Must be that Bible law where the rapist either marries the daughter who was raped or he pays the family off. There is still time to arrest him for the rape. No statute of limitations has expired.
Now, on to the crux of the story. Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston, the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, et al, ad nauseam ad infinitum are all famous for being famous. And here they both are writing a memoir, an autobiography. This fact makes me laugh almost as much as I did hearing Justin Bieber, at 16, has writing HIS autobiography!
Maybe there should have been a different lead-in to this blog. Rape is not some titillating event no matter to whom it occurs. That is insensitive.
I am old enough to remember people being famous for doing something of merit. Musician, actor, scientist, doctor. Items like these people. And I call them items because there are basically uni-dimensional, have one claim to fame which is of little merit. Items like these should be relegated to teenage magazines or the Enquirer or the Mirror.
The sad thing is none of them realize who comical they are. And as in the case for this article, how much damage Bristol has done for girls who find themselves raped in similar fashion. Levi should have been hauled to jail and tried. He, nor she should have had fame because they reproduced or be famous for being famous. As for Octomom and Jon & Kate Plus Eight. Those were reality shows. And reality shows are neither reality nor shows. They are cheap entertainment. Which brings us back to Bristol and Levi, they have become cheap entertainment. Such a shame.