Isn't it about time TLC was held accountable for
making the world a worse place?
(...Story Continued from Previous Page)
And the neat trick is that everyone who watches can't really call bulls**t on
the practice -- precisely because they're accomplices in the success of selling
and promoting trash.
For the longest time, this is why I never watched. I'm a big believer in the
concept of "vote with your remote." Hate it? Don't watch it. End of
But there's something peculiarly reprehensible about Here
Comes Honey Boo Boo. It's not simply that Alana is going to need to melt down
every cheap trophy she wins or do some extreme couponing to pay for therapy,
it's that there's seemingly no punishment for TLC in producing this without
conscience. (Yes, I know, we're well past that point with TLC. But
Having caught up with Here Comes Honey Boo Boo -- after
trying to put her and her family out of my mind and vacuumed from the cultural
part of my soul after seeing them on "Toddlers
& Tiaras" -- I realize I'm not as jaded as I thought. Translation: I
guess I never thought a reality show would be this transparently
Mama is 33. She's massively overweight (last count, 303
pounds -- down from 309 after a three-week "diet"). She's involved with Mike,
aka Sugar Bear, who couldn't be more Central Casting from Deliverance if you did
a national search. Mike basically sits there, dumbfounded. That's his role. In
the opening credits to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Mama farts and laughs about it.
In the last episode, one of her three overweight daughters (including one who's
pregnant, of course), laughs and says: "That crust on my mama's neck, I don't
know what it is." Turns out it's exactly what everyone thinks it is: an
egregious amount of dirt stuck in the fat rolls of her neck.
ain't trying letting myself go -- I just look good when I want to look good,"
Mama says, unconvincingly. In one episode she tells the camera she needs to blow
her nose, then takes a face cloth and does just that. Then smiles.
The show uses subtitles, because the apparent lack of education and the
Georgia accents mesh together like some kind of indecipherable Scottish
Is Mama a hoarder? Of course she is, with all that
extreme couponing. She says it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how
to do it. Neither does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that this
redneck exploitation is a step or four too far in our culture. But it won't stop
anytime soon -- unless everyone stops watching.
And why would they?
Honey Boo Boo just got a pet pig (irony lost) called Glitzy. Honey Boo Boo says,
in apparent seriousness: "I hope Mama don't eat Glitzy. She eats everything
In one scene, Glitzy craps all over the dinner table. One of
the daughters yells about Mama: "She was gonna eat it! It looked like a hot dog
to her. A burnt hot dog."
Yep. We're there. At that depth where no
one imagined we'd go, even the cynical ones.
One of Mama's
daughters is nicknamed "Chubbs." Another is nicknamed "Pumpkin." The other one
is pregnant. "Anna's baby daddy ain't in the picture," Mama explains helpfully,
noting that she had Anna when she was 15. For her part, Anna tells the camera
less than convincingly that she'll probably be a good, but not great,
Which is encouraging.
This same episode has the family jumping on a makeshift Slip N' Slide. "Heat
and big people don't mix, period," says Mama.
"Rednecks take a
bath, waterslide and mud bath all at the same time," Mama
Honey Boo Boo hasn't been on a great roll at the pageants
lately. She's lost a few. That's why they got her the pig. And a new pageant
coach who is -- wait for it -- also ridiculously obese. The new dance number for
Alana has her trying to be Elvis. "Do you know who Elvis is?" the pageant coach
asks. Says Honey Boo Boo, "He's Santa Claus' helper."
God help us
So here's the deal: You know this show is exploitation. TLC
knows it. Maybe even Mama and HBB know it, deep down in their rotund bodies.
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is a car crash, and everybody rubber-necks at a car
crash, right? It's human nature.
Yes, except that if you play that
card, you also have to realize that human nature comes with the capacity to draw
a line, to hold fast against the dehumanization and incremental tearing down of
the social fabric, even if this never-ending onslaught of reality television
suggests that's a losing effort. You can say no to visual exploitation. You can
say no to TLC. And you can say no to Honey Boo Boo Child.
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" airs Wednesdays on TLC.