I am taking a lot of cold medicine and have just read the most wonderful article in the Sentinel.
It's about a study! A study that purports to show that kids who watch sexy tv are more likely to get teen-pregnated than kids who don't. It has inspired me to write this short play about the writing of the story.
Keep in mind this is entirely fictitious. It's a fantasy of what may have gone into the writing of this piece of journalistic brilliance, nothing more. Enjoy!
- Mr. Crinchley: The editor of the paper. Known for his conservative social stances and tendency to blame broad social problems on things like rap music or bikini waxing.
- Jimmy: Cub reporter for the paper. Idealistic go-getter who has not yet been beaten down by the world.
- Kids #1,2 & 3: just kids, may all be played by the same kid if necessary.
- Dr. Foureyes: some liberal elitist intellectual.
Scene opens in Mr. Crinchley's office, where Jimmy is getting assigned a story:
Mr. Crinchley: Jimmy, I have a job for you.
Jimmy: Gee willikers, that's great boss! What do you need me to do?
Mr. Crinchley: I have this press release here from the RAND corporation. It says that watching dirty tv shows makes kids get pregnant. I require you turn it into a story so I can write an editorial about it in a few days.
Jimmy: Golly, boss, I don't know much about research methods or whatever. This is going to be a head-scratcher!
Mr. Crinchley: Goddammit son! I don't want boring stories about research methods! That's what the liberal intellectual elitists want you to do, with their fancy haircuts and arugula-sandwiches, and high school diplomas, and ivory egghead towers, and... [goes on muttering for awhile]
Jimmy [interrupting]: But boss, how can I make this a story and not just a press release? Also, why is the RAND corporation doing research on teen pregnancy? Don't they usually deal with national security matters?
Mr. Crinchley: It's all the same, Jimmy! As you'll learn when you grow up to be a conservative newspaper editor like myself, all these things we're upset about are part of the same vast conspiracy.
First there was the bombing of the USS Cole, then 9/11, now it's sexy tv shows that are forcing our daughters to get knocked up by Mexicans!
Mr. Crinchley: Mexicans! And Muslims too! [quietly] Must never forget the Muslims... Also, probably they're turning our kids gay!
Jimmy: Ummm... I think the Muslims and gays might be outside the realm of this study.
Mr. Crinchley: Good journalistic instincts, Jimmy! You'll be an ace reporter yet!
Mr. Crinchley: Anyway, go out there and interview some teenagers about this research that neither I, nor you, nor they have actually read. That'll get to the bottom of whether or not it's true.
Jimmy: Sure thing, boss!
Jimmy leaves the office and heads to the local mall, or school, or wherever it is he can find teenagers. Upon finding them, he goes up and steels himself for an interview.
Jimmy: Hey kids! Who wants to be interviewed to be in the paper? You'll be famous!
Kids all mumble half-hearted okays.
Jimmy (to Kid 1): Okay, you first. I only actually have one question and here it is: A study by very smart people says that kids watching sexy tv shows leads to higher teen pregnancy. Are they right?
Kid 1: Huh? I guess. I'm only fifteen.
Jimmy: Thanks! [to himself]: Excellent, that's the solid confirmation from a trusted source that I needed!
Jimmy (to Kid 2): How about you? These people did a long and expensive study and say that sex on tv makes kids have babies. Are you going to argue with them?
Kid 2: I guess not.
Jimmy (to Kid 2): Surprise followup! What do you watch on tv?
Kid 2: Oh, mostly PBS and the Discovery Channel.
Jimmy: Ever watch MTV?
Kid 2: Once in awhile, I guess.
Jimmy (excitedly): MTV it is! [chuckles] Oh you kids and your MTV! I know how it is, I used to love it myself!
Kid 2: Whatever. I have to go. [walks away]
Jimmy (to Kid 3): Hey last kid! Will watching sex on tv make you get pregnant?
Kid 3: No, that's dumb. What the hell is wrong with you?
Jimmy: Great! Conflict like this makes for a good story! Is it okay if I quote you and then twist everything around to basically say you're wrong?
Kid 3: No.
Jimmy: Too bad. Now get lost, kid!
Kid 3 walks away looking annoyed. Kid 1, who is still hanging around for some reason, spots Dr. Foureyes and calls out to him.
Kid 1: Hey Dr. Foureyes! Come talk to this reporter guy!
Jimmy (to himself): Hmm, maybe I can sneak one egghead in past Mr. Crinchley, if it makes the story better.
Dr. Foureyes (walking over): Hi there Kid 1. What's this all about?
Jimmy: I have a question for you, doctor. Would you mind?
Dr. Foureyes (cleaning his glasses): Certainly not, my good man. Ask away!
Jimmy: Does sexy tv make people pregnant?
Dr. Foureyes: That question is idiotic. If you're talking about the recent study by the RAND corporation, then I'd need to actually read the article in Pediatrics and examine their methodology before I can speculate on the validity of the study. Do you have a copy?
Jimmy (looking confused): No. Why would I?
Dr. Foureyes: Because you're writing a newspaper article about it. Shouldn't you have at least read the study you're supposed to be reporting on?
Jimmy: You're a wacky one, doc! Could you just answer the question? TV makes people get pregnant: yes or no?
Dr. Foureyes: As I've said, it's impossible for me to adequately critique a study I haven't read. However, since you seem so insistent I will say that I strongly suspect that even if a correlation can be shown there is unlikely to be a causative relationship.
Jimmy: I don't know what most of those words mean. Yes or no?
Dr. Foureyes: I suspect no.
Jimmy: Great, thanks doc!
Jimmy interviews a few more kids, then leaves and returns to the newspaper office, where he writes his story in record time. He presents it to Mr. Crinchley for approval.
Mr. Crinchley: Jimmy, this is a totally biased article. You present almost no points of view except those who agree with the outcome of the study, you mostly interviewed people who are in no way qualified to judge the study, and the few qualified or opposing points of view were immediately discarded.
Jimmy: Does that mean you don't like it?
Mr. Crinchley: Haven't you been listening, Jimmy? I love it!
Jimmy and Mr. Crinchley share a hug. Curtain closes.