Last night I stumbled across the season premiere of Honey Boo-Boo. I haven’t watched a lot of Boo-Boo (though you don’t really need to) but I’ve seen enough to get the idea. If I’m starting to sound all holier-than-thou, I shouldn’t because last night I watched it for over an hour, and then a family member had to do an intervention to remove the remote control from my fingers.
I’ll make this brief, but I think some of the appeal of the show is that they seem like happy, go-lucky folks. Mama June laughs her way through situations, but not in that nervous, forced way that we’ve become accustomed to from people on TV, but in a natural, relaxed way. It’s rather refreshing. How can they be happy and carefree when the world is such a miserable, and unhappy place to be? Not to mention that they are fat and unattractive?!? Where do they get the right not to be unhappy? If the media/advertising industrial complex has taught us anything they should all be suicidal.
Now the bad news, but when I was a kid…I don’t remember being aware of such stark class distinctions. (Perhaps I was just young and naive.) Yes there were rich kids and poor kids, but that was about it. Thanks now to cable television we are exposed to ‘hillbillys’ or ‘white trash’ like the Honey Boo-Boo clan, all the time. (Southerns being a favorite target of cable television. They should form a union.) Or their African-American equivalent ‘ghetto blacks’ (see VH1 or MTV 2). Don’t forget the sleazy Italian branch, as demonstrated on Jersey Shore, or the Real Housewives of… Then of course there’s the shallow, filthy rich white people of other Housewives spin-offs, Beverly Hills, Miami, Vanderpump’s Rules, and naturally the Kardashian factory.I almost forgot the Jewish gals on ‘Princesses,’ oy-vey. All reinforcing stereotypes, making us feel either superior in the case of a Honey Boo-Boo, or angry, and envious of the Kim K’s. (Who wouldn’t? What does she do?) It appeals to the worst in human nature.
Like I said this stuff seemed as dated as Mr. Howell’s performance on Gilligan’s Island. But here we are, going back in time, the stratification of class and ethnic groups. It’s always been there, and I fear will always be there. Now watching Pumpkin eating cheese balls off the floor, I was reminded how much it’s returned and with a vengeance.