T.V. Made A Boo Boo: Final Thoughts On A Cultural Oddity

Alana’s face matches mine when I first saw this travesty.
Source: Tamara Tattles

The news that TLC would be canceling their hit series Here comes Honey Boo Boo was met with, what I observed as, a collective exclamation of, “Thank god, it’s about time.”

But, that being said and being someone that’s just as happy to have the show off the air, I can’t be happy about the circumstances that resulted in this.

According to sources, reason for the shows cancellation was due to allegations that one of the stars of the show, “Mama” June Shannon is dating a convicted child molester. Naturally, Shannon denies those claims.

While I hate that it took this to remove the show from the air, I’m glad to see it gone. And not just for the reasons of it being bad television.

You see, humans have always had a natural curiosity towards what we call ‘otherness’ – things and people other than what we frequently see. At its best, it leads us to want to learn more about people so we can be further united. At its worst though, it encourages us to separate them from us and dehumanize them; creating an us versus them mentality.

I feel that this show was much closer to the worse end of these two by placing Alana Thompson, a child no less, on a pedestal for people to gawk, stare, and laugh at while thinking themselves superior. Meanwhile, the network is able to go to the bank on the dime of the elitist audience.

We used to do the same thing years ago… back when we called it the circus sideshow.

The only difference is that, where we now look down on the sideshow for dehumanizing their performers on the basis of deformity, appearance and race, we let shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo get away with it because we have yet to apply the same politics of basic human decency to class.

The only good thing that will come from this ordeal is Shannon’s insistence that, “the girls will always be our number one priority.” Hopefully, this means using the money earned from the shows run to improve their lives.

Still, there are plenty of Honey Boo Boos on television just as guilty of this dehumanizing garbage – shows where the focus is on pointing a mocking finger at the lives of people different than our own.

I highly recommend watching the episode of Kyle Kallgren’s Between the Lines that discusses the show and this point in great detail and in better words than I could ever conceive. It’s a beautiful and hauntingly hard-truth-filled essay on how we treat our fellow humans from the mouth of a true intellectual.

Bottom line, we need to learn that we all live under the same sky, that we are all human, and that we all deserve to be judged as such. Yes, the classic sideshow is fading away, but that just means that it’s trying to find new and more insidious forms to take.

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