Saturday, July 27, 2013

Prince George & Princess Boo Boo

            We live in a world in which contains not only a show called Toddlers and Tiaras—but also a spin-off of that show, called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I’ve never seen it, but I read about it in Entertainment Weekly the other day. It turns out this show is subtitled. The “cast” members speak English. And yet.

         Now, the thing is, I’m not an entertainment snob. As previously mentioned here, I unabashedly enjoy several of ABC Family’s shows, including one that features Denise Richards as a cast member. Her acting is not the best, but her part on Twisted as a trophy widow is at least less of a stretch than her role in that James Bond film in which she was cast as some sort of nuclear scientist. But then again, I’m just being silly. That movie was a long time ago, when Denise was much younger, and everyone knows that nuclear scientists are almost always hot girls in their twenties. But now, alas, it’s mom roles for Denise.
 I was really thinking about a career as a nuclear physicist, but I just wasn't sure about the belly shirts and short shorts. 
         But back to the Boo-Boo, the idea of subtitling our mother tongue disturbs me on a number of levels. I feel strongly that we should all agree on a language and speak it intelligibly enough so that at least native speakers can make sense of the words. The fact that these folks need subtitles is also evidence that the primary goal of this program is to make fun of this family.
One of the many benefits of fame: being immortalized on South Park

I realize they are willing participants. For a lot of people today, fame (or infamy) and money are sufficient incentives to trade in their dignity. And their children’s dignity (and normalcy, and privacy—the list goes on). Adults, though, can make an informed decision about whether or not to televise their lives. How could a little kid understand what they were signing up for—or giving up?
         There are those who would blame the audience, the old “if no one watched it they wouldn’t make it” routine. And maybe they’re right. But the very fact that we feel the need to assign blame for a show like this tells us just how bad it probably is.

         We live a media-saturated world, so it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that some families are choosing to embrace the saturation to the fullest by living on TV. This past week the Royal Baby was born and a good chunk of Americans devoted a good chunk of their time to watching and waiting for it, and commenting after. I wonder what our forefathers would think. We did fight pretty hard to not have a prince or a king. A high percentage of folks in the UK don’t want one anymore either, yet the entire country nearly ground to a halt waiting to find out the gender and name of their next little prince. The fact is, baby princes make a good story. And, apparently, so do tiara-wearing former toddlers who mumble.

         In a less crazy world, leaders would be selected based on merit—and so would television stars. And nuclear scientists. But it’s a wacky world out there. Better redneckonize.

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