Viewers debate appeal and ethics of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 21:10
“Their stupidity is only part of the appeal,” Junior Kristine Nguyen say of the TLC show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” a spin-off of the children’s beauty pageant TV show, “Toddlers and Tiaras.”
The show has been criticized by publications like the Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter for its portrayal of family values and the exposure of their daughter in beauty pageants. However, the show, which revolves around the life of seven-year-old Alana Thompson, is well-received by viewers and has already been renewed for a second season.
The show follows Thompson and her family in Georgia, who all have nicknames such as “Pumpkin,” “Sugar Bear,” “Chubbs” and “Chickadee.” She is one of four daughters, the eldest of which is pregnant, and all will star in the show’s holiday specials for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Nguyen says she enjoys the show because it depicts a different lifestyle than the lifestyle she is used to.
“I think it’s interesting to watch people in walks of life that I will probably never be a part of,” Nguyen says. “It exposes you to how other people live, for better or for worse.”
Freshman Kathleen DiBari, a student correspondent for the Student Television Network, says she believes the appeal of a show like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is that it is “bad reality television at its finest.”
DiBari says the topic of the show is irrelevant, since people do not actually want to sit down and watch a beauty pageant. She said the viewers are just intrigued by the outrageous things the stars do and enjoy the stupid humor that accompanies reality shows.
“It is one of those shows that people love to quote lines from, but it eventually will get old,” DiBari says.
Nguyen says she thinks that the “idiotic nature” of the program is only one small part of the appeal.
“I’m sure some viewers are attracted to that aspect of the show, but I’m not one of them,” Nguyen says. “The activities they do are hilarious and the family dynamic is interesting to see.”
Sophomore Eleni Roustopoulos says she thinks the family has a solid foundation, but she is a little uneasy when so many people poke fun at them. She says she thinks people should not make fun of them and feels bad when viewers make jokes at the family’s expense.
Roustopoulos says she believes that although she wouldn’t participate in a beauty pageant, it’s not her place to judge others who do.
“I think that’s a personal family choice,” Roustopoulos says. “I don’t think that I would [want to be on reality television] but if it helps provide income for their family, that’s what matters.”
DiBari also says she finds the idea of a toddler beauty pageant a little unethical.
“It is teaching the child at three years old through the winning of a beauty pageant that to be pretty, you have to be covered in makeup, have your hair done and constantly be dressed up,” DiBari says.
She says she finds it wrong for the parents to inflict those ideas on a child at such a young age. Even if a child enjoys the pageant, there should not be so many requirements and pressures on the children, she says.
Nguyen says she shared similar sentiments saying that toddler beauty pageants were a little unethical, but it’s not harming anyone. She says the family could be doing worse things to their children.
With shows that are somewhat controversial like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” students like DiBari are wondering if TLC, which formerly stood for “The Learning Channel” from 1980 to around 1990, is maintaining its previous focus on learning.
Roustopoulos says she agrees with DiBari and although the shows are entertaining, they offer very little value to the viewer.
“I like watching the shows like “Honey Boo Boo” because they’re funny, but I don’t expect to learn anything that will be useful,” she says.
DiBari said some TLC shows exploit issues like addiction and disabilities. She said shows like, “My Strange Addiction,” which chronicles the previously undocumented habits of different people, is one of the most ridiculous things she’s watched.
“I shouldn’t be watching someone on TV who is addicted to eating detergent,” she says. “They should be calling someone to get this person help.”
DiBari says in many ways these shows do not accomplish anything and actually do the opposite of what TLC used to stand for.
“They don’t help us to learn anything beneficial besides what bad TV looks like,” DiBari says.