“American Idol”:  Who’s Your (Baby)Daddy?
April 6, 2005

By Debbie Schlussel

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Being an unwed teen mother is “a badge of honor,” right?

That was the scheduled message of this week’s “American Idol,” courtesy of Fantasia Barrino.

Barrino—the young unwed, single mother who won last season’s “AI”— was set to showcase her biggest song, “Baby Mama,” according to weeks of press reports.

Fortunately, at the last minute, she performed another song.

“Baby Mama” couldn’t send a worse message to young American girls—and boys—that watch the show in droves.

Barrino sings that being a “Baby Mama”— an unwed, single mother—is a good thing, “Cuz now-a-days, it [sic] like a badge of honor to be a baby mama.”

Oh, really?  Maybe Fantasia won’t be singing that tune when her daughter, Zion, becomes a teen “Baby Mama” herself.

American teenage girls show a strong tendency to engage in early sex and get pregnant, if they grew up from infancy without a father present, according to a long-term study detailed in scientific journal Child Development Magazine.

Psychologists studied 242 American girls in three U.S. cities for 13 years—from age 5 to age 18.  They found that girls who grew up without a father not only experienced precocious sexuality and pregnancy, but also were more likely to experience poverty and—surprise, surprise—a lack of parental guidance from their mothers.  Fatherless girls were also more likely to have other behavioral, emotional, and academic problems, including school fights and high delinquency rates. 

Barrino’s album is entitled “Free Yourself.”  But there is nothing “freeing” about being a single mother.

Teen pregnancy was highest among girls who lived without a father the longest.

They were not only primed for early sexual exploration and reproduction, but they showed an inability to have long-term relationships, preferring multiple, brief sexual relationships.

Attention, Fantasia:  That’s a nice way of saying your daughter has a good chance of becoming a slut.  And you have a good chance of becoming a “Baby Grand Mama”–real soon.

For boys, the impact is not much different.  Boys without a father are more likely to engage in early sex, cause pregnancies, and are twice as likely to use drugs and/or end up in jail, according to the several studies and the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Barrino has the gall to praise a sad basic fact of America’s killing fields.  She sings that she admires unwed, single mothers, “Cuz we the [sic] backbone (of the hood).”  Yes, unfortunately, 2000 Census statistics show that, in impoverished areas and inner cities—a/k/a “the hood(s)”—the majority of births, by a whopping 70% and higher in many such areas, are to unwed, single mothers. 

But rather than backbone, they are society’s withering spine.

These facts merit grief—NOT celebration on a show watched by a large cross-section of America’s young demographic.

Fantasia’s nerve goes far.  “I think it should be a holiday for single mothers” she sings.  A holiday?  Perhaps we should have a Lacto-Ovo Differently Digestive Day (for fat vegetarians), too.  But somehow, neither of these seems in need of establishment—on the calendar, on an amateurish televised singing contest, or anywhere else.  Except, maybe, on the Oxygen Channel, where no-one, save a lesbian “Baby Mama,” is watching.

More than 25 million children—over 36%--in America live without their father, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative.    On average, the percentage of births to unmarried women in any state of the Union is a third of all births, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, with Mississippi’s rate topping 45% of all births.  The 2000 Census showed the number of women raising children without fathers at home, grew to 25% nationally between 1990 and 2000.

“AI” shouldn’t be promoting this.  But promote it, they did—through weeks of press fanfare.  “AI” is capitalism at its worst—making a buck, regardless of the damage caused by the defective product they are pimping. 

“Baby Mama” is already one of Barrino’s biggest hits.  According to Nielsen Soundscan and USA Today, she sold over 1,000,000 albums and 64,000 downloads of her songs. 

That’s bad enough. 

Then, “AI’s” new owner, gazillionaire Robert F.X. Sillerman, planned to give Barrino’s harmful anthem glorifying unwed, single motherhood the prime-time spotlight into 29 million homes. 

Fortunately, the decision was reversed, and the song was pulled—but only from the show, not her “AI”-produced and promoted  CD.

Sillerman’s also marketing “American Idol” trading cards, clothing, and a Barbie doll.  Will “American Idol” Barbie be a “Baby Mama” Barbie—complete with fatherless, screaming baby in tow?

Barrino blames her status as a “Baby Mama” on an abusive boyfriend, but no-one told her to have a baby with him.  Her message to young, female fans is, it’s not your fault.  “This sh*t ain’t fair,” she sings.

No, the only thing that isn’t fair is the message she is sending about the tragedy of being a “Baby Mama.”

Where is outspoken AI judge and part owner Simon Cowell when he’s most needed?