People who know me and also read this blog have asked me a couple times now what I think about TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” I haven’t been able to respond because I really wasn’t sure what I thought. I needed to marinate. Also, I hadn’t seen the show until I watched the 3 episodes available online the other day. (I ditched cable. I regret it.)
I became familiar with Honey Boo Boo Child when my friend Andy posted the original “a dolla makes me holla!” video on my Facebook page with a message that said “that kid you gave up for adoption is on Toddlers and Tiaras now.” Jokes! Of course I watched it about 4 times in a row, and I felt a strange mixture of horrified, charmed, amused, depressed, and worried. When she grabs her belly fat, I just…I can’t. In case you haven’t seen it (or have blocked it from memory), here it is:
People get so worked up over reality TV. And, in a way, I get it. It’s worse than a carnival freak show because unlike the freaks in a hot, sweaty tent, we only watch; we don’t have to make eye contact with them. (Which I accidentally did at a South Florida fairground freak show. I need to write about that.) And yes, I think a big part of reality TV’s appeal is the “at least I’m better than them” factor.
But what really makes me clutch my pearls and do the whole “who will think of the children?!” routine is the thought that Charlie fucking Sheen enjoys the level of fame and riches he does. Until very recently, Charlie Sheen was the highest paid man on television. He was making 1.25 million dollars per episode of that hideously unfunny show he was on. He even managed to make money off of his spectacular meltdown. And he’s on TV again! Barf. That troubles me far more than the kids on Jersey Shore allowing their drunken hookups to be filmed.
I read a quote from
Phoebe from Friends Lisa Kudrow the other day where she said she loved watching The Real Housewives because she thinks “it’s important to watch the end of the world happening.” Oh please. For one thing, Friends was funny but I hope she’s not actually placing herself that far above the Housewives. C’mon. Really, Feebs?
The other thing I think of when people flip out over reality TV (besides the fact that there’s also war and famine and shouldn’t we maybe be more worried about that) is shows from the “Golden Age of Television” … like Amos ‘n’ Andy. Is anyone actually arguing that Toddlers and Tiaras is more damaging to our culture than that little gem? It’s not that I think TV is better now, just that it’s not worse.
But back to Honey Boo Boo. Don’t try to tell me that isn’t a happy family. They’re dirty and crude and overweight and happy as hell. They genuinely enjoy each other and the warmth between them feels real. I think maybe what people are the most troubled by is the fact that they’re not ashamed. Think about it: they are everything that we’re supposed to be afraid to be and they LOVE it.
Just like everyone else, I’m tempted to think that Mama June (make no mistake: she’s the real star of the show) couldn’t possibly be happy being that fat. Maybe what scares me more is that she actually IS content being that size. Maybe unlike pretty much every other citizen of the United States, she’s actually happy just as she is and sees no reason to join in the exhausting race to improve herself. While we’re stressing out about our kids having a sip of high fructose corn syrup, she’ll be on the couch eating cheese balls and laughing with her family.
And I think that might be the most threatening thing about the show. We’re so used to seeing people on TV bleach their teeth, excessively exercise, fix their nose/eyes/lips, and put extensions in their hair that we don’t blink. That’s actually considered normal. We don’t know what to do when we see someone who is over 300 pounds, not attractive by most any standard, genuinely enjoying her life. I almost think people would approve of June and her brood more if they would at least act like they’re embarrassed. Nope. Not happening. They should be ashamed and they’re not and that bothers us.
[I can’t comment about Honey Boo Boo using speech patterns and mannerisms more commonly associated with black people than rednecks. All I can say about that is it that living about 50 miles from HBB and fam, it doesn’t seem that odd to me. Anyway, that seems like one of those things that bothers academic types so I’ll leave that to them.]
My only real concern about Honey Boo Boo is Season 2. So often the first season of a reality show is gold: the subjects are unself-conscious and don’t try to portray themselves as anything other than exactly what they are. Then the show airs and they start getting recognized, they read blog posts about themselves saying how ugly and fat they are, and the people around them figure out they have money and start asking for it and it all implodes and the family falls apart and it’s horrible.
So let’s hope a dolla doesn’t really make Alana holla.
gif (as always): T. Kyle Mac at realitytvgifs.tumblr.com