Oh, America, there are times you really disappoint me.
“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is one of those times.
Forget the debates about cable channel TLC exploiting this family and their sometimes serious and emotional issues (weight loss, teen pregnancy, etc.) — not to mention the clear exploitation of rural living — this column is about you, the rubber-necking audience and your sad and misguided views of what is or is not good television viewing.
As a kid, I remember excitedly awaiting “TGIF” on ABC — new episodes of “Full House” and “Family Matters” — and a host of other scripted sitcoms on other channels, offering a fun reprieve from everyday life.
Generally, none of the show’s characters were thrust into an awkward spotlight to be made fun of episode after episode. And when shows did force a character into an awful spot, there was some kind of life lesson to be learned.
Somewhere along the way, though, greedy television networks realized they could make cheaper shows that document (and I use that word ever so loosely) “real” families, edit footage down to a few out-of-context scenes and let you, the viewer, run wild.
Man, you fell for the bait. And now we all suffer.
Low-end, train wreck (don’t call it “reality” because it is not) television is what a majority of Americans seem to enjoy now. How sad is it that we no longer want wholesome, fun escapes from life, instead opting for programs that allow us to point, stare and laugh at someone different from us?
Reality TV has not always been as low-brow and awful as it is now. When "Candid Camera" debuted on television in 1948, the show offered a fun approach to surprising unknowing passers-by. Game shows also provided an outlet to root for common people.
MTV later perfected the genre with "The Real World" in 1991 — a show I was addicted to for nearly 15 years until it fell victim to the “reality” craze.
But "Survivor" turned reality TV upside down with its elimination rounds and challenges that pitted contestants against each other.
Audiences were encouraged to root for reality show participants to fail — or, in the case of reality dating shows like "The Bachelor," to be humiliated. What does it say about us that we'll watch humiliation, and in some cases, vote for it?
Admittedly, I have not seen one episode of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” I’ve read tweets, Facebook posts and have watched plenty of videos on YouTube to determine that I won’t spend time making fun of edited footage of someone’s family.
Who cares if the family enjoys a “redneck facial” or five pounds of sugar in lemonade? The sad reality of it is that, based on what I’ve seen, the show’s characters are more typical than they are unique. But what has allowed this show to gain so much attention since it debuted in August is a fine editing job, capturing only moments that make the family look pathetic. And that is exactly what viewers today seem to crave.
Imagine if someone based their judgment of you on short sound bites and video.
Every family in America — from McIntyre, Ga., to Pittsburgh, the Midwest, New England and beyond — have shared moments no different from ones I’ve seen in “Honey Boo Boo” videos.
Before we make one poor judgment of the family on “Honey Boo Boo,” let’s consider what our own lives might look like if a TLC crew recorded us and then aired that content in about an 18-minute program.
My guess is, we’d all be pretty embarrassed.
twoday magazine wants to know what you think of modern day reality TV? Share with us on our Facebook page.
Follow @twodaymag on Twitter.
Like Bobby’s article? Check out some of his other articles exclusively for twoday magazine: