Thursday, October 11, 2012

Does Honey Boo Boo Get Spanked in School?

Recently, I turned on CNN to see what in the world was happening. I expected news about the presidential election, the economy, and other such weighty matters. Instead, I learned about Honey Boo and school paddling.

I'd heard of Honey Boo Boo, of course. She's the child beauty pageant contestant in Georgia who, along with her family, is the focus of the reality-TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The CNN segment was about the show's huge ratings success and the fact that the titular star is now a household name. This fact was confirmed for me personally when, a few days later, a Southern friend jokingly used 'Honey Boo Boo' as a term of endearment for me.

Next up on CNN was a segment about school paddling. The news hook was that a male teacher in Texas had paddled a teenage girl student (which, no matter where you are on the corporal punishment issue, just feels horribly wrong). CNN flashed a map of states in which school paddling was allowed. Guess what? Except for Virginia, every state in the South allows school paddling.

Honey Boo Boo: Naughty or nice?
Wait a minute, I thought: Honey Boo Boo is a child who, presumably, attends school. She lives in Georgia. I wonder if any teachers have paddled Honey Boo Boo? Was she naughty enough to provoke such treatment?

I became infinitely curious about the child dubbed by at least one blogger as "the redneck Shirley Temple." So I TiVo-ed her show, starting with a rerun of the first episode. A night or two later, Nick and I sat down to watch. We started midway through the pilot episode because of a TiVo recording 'boo boo.'
Shirley Temple, left. The death of taste and decency, right.

Our first image was of a bunch of people gathered around a large, red mud hole. Each person took turns getting hosed off before jumping into the hole. Nick and I looked at each other. "Turn it off," Nick said. "Done," I replied, hitting the 'off' button.

The show most definitely appalled but failed to enthrall. It's not that I have a problem with people jumping into mud holes to cool off; they're not harming anyone except perhaps themselves (that mud hole looked shallow). I turned off the show because it made me feel awful, as if I'd just unintentionally insulted a child.

Like many reality TV shows, Honey Boo Boo encourages its viewers to feel superior to other people and laugh at them. I was certainly guilty of such behavior in the past, and I'm not immune to it now. It's practically engrained in our culture. But that doesn't mean it makes me feel good about myself (it doesn't), or that it's something I'll actively devote time to it (it's not). Rather than help me unwind after a hard day of work, a show like Honey Boo Boo makes me agitated and uncomfortable. Perhaps a better name for the show would be American Horror Story: The South.

Based on my brief viewing of her show, I have no idea if Honey Boo Boo is naughty enough to make teachers want to spank her. But I do know this: The producers of Honey Boo Boo could use a little paddling.

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16 comments:

  1. Jim, I had the same reaction! I heard all of the commotion on TV regarding the TLC program HERE COMES HONEY BOOBOO!! Within the first five minutes I was literally gagging, then had to cut it off and just cry. I JUST DON'T GET IT!!

    My thought on reality TV is that the producers of these shows do not want to pay "actors" salaries. Therefore, the end result the reality show blitz.

    HAD ENOUGH ALREADY OF REALITY TV!!

    Kathy Kraemer

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    1. Agreed, Kathy! Can't stomach stuff like that anymore.

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    2. I just don't get what people like about it. I feel sorry for the kid. I watched about 5 minutes of one just so I wouldn't have to say 'I've never seen it but I don't like it.' Just made me feel dirty.

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    3. Same here. Like I needed to take a shower or something -- but definitely not a red mud bath.

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  2. I've never seen the show, but am amazed at all the hullabaloo. I'm much happier that I read your blog than watched the show.

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    1. Thanks JuJu. I hope my blog is as addicting as reality TV but more nourishing.

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  3. I'm with you on this one. I've argued until I'm blue in the face with my kids who love shows like this one, The Housewives of (insert city here) and Bridezilla and I can't stand any of those shows. I tell my kids that it is so sad that their generation finds entertainment value and enjoyment out of watching other people humiliate themselves and each other. Have you ever watched Bridezilla??? Honey Boo Boo is a walk in the park compared to that show.

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    1. Alicia, I've never seen even a second of Bridezilla or a housewives show (except for Desperate Housewives, which I grew tired of). These shows are like cigarettes--highly addictive and terrible for you.

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  4. Jim,
    As usual you are right. Coming from the Soutn I am done with all of these shows. Does not anyone worry about the long term effects this child will live with. Face it she one day she will realize she was the joke.
    I vote for your Blog and one day a book.
    Tim

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    1. Thanks Tim for your continued support and great comments. And by the way, I am thinking about a book. Just have to find the time to put it together!

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  5. Guess I'm lucky, Jim. The only direct exposure I've had to Honey Boo Boo has been in clips shown on "The Soup." That was plenty to give me the same impression you've had. It would almost be funny if it weren't real. As it is, it's just creepy. I'm all for paddling the producers. Don't know how they sleep at night.

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    1. Maybe a good paddling would prevent those producers from sleeping at night! BTW, thanks for reminding me about 'The Soup.' Used to watch but it fell off my radar some time ago.

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  6. My answer to the "What the hell happened?" question on the comparative picture is REALITY TELEVISION!!!

    It's just plain scary that this child's spoiled antics and family's lives are POPULAR enough for a TV show.

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  7. I dont know how they can compare this to Shirley Temple. I grew up watching her have to of her VHS movies never been opened. I loved her she was America's sweetheart. This picture made me so appauled. I havent even heard of Honey Boo until I saw this picture. This is a shame people are so wrapped up in shows like this, my generation has lost respect and I just turned 21. I have never enjoyed shows like this one. The 16 and pregnant is just as bad. I understand Morgan Freeman made this series as a way to try to show teens that having children at a young age is just hard, but honestly it back fired. Teens see this now and think if they get knocked up that they can become a star. I dont even have cable anymore because its all that is on now. I use netflix because I can rate shows like this and they never appear again. I wont have to worry about my son watching this by accident in my household.

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  8. I must admit I am a fan, but only to watch the train wreck. The mud hole episode was nothing compared to watching the family eat a Thanksgiving meal! June cooks a turkey, pulls it off the bone, puts it in a foil pan and mixes it with everything in the kitchen. She calls it a Maltomeal or something like that. They drag it outside and have Uncle Poodle (what Honey Boo Boo calls gay people) over and they practically eat out of that pan with their hands. The show has not had any new episodes that I know of but I only watch this occasionally and only for the shock value. I like your writing, did you write for newspapers once?

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    1. Thanks for your comment Bekkie. We all have our guilty pleasures! And yes, I did write for newspapers at the beginning of my career. I even started with obituaries and worked my way up!

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