Multiple Births as Media Spectacle

lancelets_embryo_4_cellsby theoryforthemasses

In the past week considerable debate has emerged over the birth of a set of octuplets to a California woman. Controversy has surrounded both the doctors who facilitated the births as well as the mother herself, who is single, unemployed, and has six other children. The attention that is being paid to this family by both the media and ordinary people who are eager to share their opinions on fertility treatments and parental responsibility has created nothing short of spectacle. In his work on media, culture, and spectacles, Douglas Kellner suggests that popular media spectacles often tell us a great deal about the values, experiences, and conflicts of our times. From this perspective, the octuplet birth may cast a light on such issues as the role of biotechnology in pregnancy and childbirth, medical ethics, and the role of the state in regulating the clinics and doctors who facilitate multiple births. The hostility that has been directed toward the mother of fourteen also suggests contemporary notions about what constitutes “appropriate” parenting. At the same time, however, the woman has been praised by some for her decision not to terminate her pregnancy. We may compare the octuplet birth spectacle, then, to a microscope through which we can take a closer look at the issues, conflicts, and problems that are present in contemporary society, but not always visible to the naked eye

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One thought on “Multiple Births as Media Spectacle

  1. Pingback: Le Corps Des Femmes | The Global Sociology Blog

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