What’s Wrong with ‘Honey Boo Boo’?

by Tami Winfrey Harris

The reality television apocalypse is upon us, allegedly, with the success of TLC’s new show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” The show, which follows the exploits of six-year-old Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, first seen as a kiddie beauty pageant contestant on “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and her family.

The Thompson/Shannon family resides in a tiny home by railroad tracks in rural McIntyre, Ga. They shop at the Piggly Wiggly, drink Mountain Dew, proudly attend something called The Redneck Games and, for a few episodes, have a baby pig named Glitzy residing in the house. Mama June is less likely to call her brood by their given names than alternate ones–Chickadee, Chubbs, Pumpkin and, for Daddy, Sugar Bear.

They are big people with even bigger personalities.

Make no mistake, there is no altruism in TLC’s decision to bring Honey Boo Boo and her kin into our homes. Show runners are not charmed by this family’s Southern witticisms or Mama June’s pride in her 300 lb.+ figure. They aren’t concerned about Honey Boo Boo’s 17-year-old pregnant sister. They don’t think it’s admirable how the unmarried Sugar Bear and June have built a strong and loving blended family. And they don’t constantly pan to shots of freight trains roaring past the Thompson/Shannon home because they find it quaint.

They undoubtedly find the Thompson/Shannon family laughable–better, exploitable–just like every other real housewife, bachelor and bachelorette, or dancer/cocktail waitress willing to let the likes of Bret Michaels or Flavor Flav rename them “Rodeo” or “Boots.” They know there is little America likes more than judging fat folks–especially fat women who don’t have the decency to hate themselves for being fat; poor people and poor parents; Southerners and young women who have sex outside of marriage. “Honey Boo Boo” represents a gold mine. Indeed, Thursdays airing be at the Republican National Convention in ratings.

Jennifer Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, says, “You can almost hear TLC saying, ‘Step right up to the poverty voyeurism comedy tour!’.”

Reaction to “Honey Boo Boo” would seem to prove that TLC has successfully pinged a host of American biases about class and size and gender and race. An AV Club review of the program is fairly dripping with condescension:

In actuality, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo really doesn’t have a lot to do with the titular figure herself in the two episodes that premiered tonight. At the center of this horror story posing as a reality television program is “Mama,” the matriarch of the family and center around which the entire program revolves. Not having seen Toddlers and Tiaras, it’s hard to know if she’s naturally an attention-seeking woman or if TLC realized she was a 300-pound malapropism waiting to happen. Motivations matter little in cases like this. What’s important to note is that more than half the time in each episode is dedicated to her worldview, which involves preparing Alana for pageants, going to auctions to buy junk food for her family, and generally doing the minimum amount of parenting to prevent the state from taking her children away.

Okay, that’s a little unfair: It’s not so much that Mama actively abuses her children so much as provides perhaps the worst example possible of how to live a life with a bit of respect, or at least decorum. Not since Wuthering Heights has there been a better battle of nature versus nurture in a popular art form. I exaggerate, of course, but the actually interesting parts of Honey Boo Boo come in the moments in which the vaudeville act performed by the Thompsons drops away and accidentally reveals some kernels of truth and humanity underneath. It’s not that the Thompsons have to be this way. They either don’t know how to change or don’t understand that change is even an option.

It’s easy to look at Alana and just chalk up her attitude to a combination of age and precociousness. It’s easy to look at 15-year old Jessica (called “Chubbette” by Mama and “Chubbs” in the onscreen TLC graphic) eating cheese balls off the floor and recoil in horror. It’s easy to watch Mama talk positively about her looks and wonder what she sees in the mirror. But then the caricatures disappear, even fleetingly, and it’s much more difficult to pass this off as Car Crash TV. At first, Mama publicly defends her choice not to lose weight with her daughter, stating she’s happy with the way she is. Later, when Mama admits to the camera that she’d like to lose 100 pounds in order to support Jessica, it’s a completely human moment, devoid of all bravado. But it’s also the saddest moment of tonight’s two episodes, because you recognize the bravado not as an on-screen persona but a disguise meant to mask her pain.

Cause fat women must be hiding some secret shame; women who don’t fit the beauty standard should know they are ugly; and no one but 15-year-old Jessica Shannon ever observed the 10-sec rule to eat a snack off the floor.

A tour through TelevisionWithoutPity, a premier online source of TV forums, recaps and discussion, reveals commentary worse than anything happening on Alana Thompson’s eponymous TV show:

aliyameadow writes:

So I looked at some YouTube clips and my jaw dropped open. WTF is this stuff? Who lets their child behave like that? You just know she got most of what she says from her mother. Most 6 year olds are talking about their dolls – she’s talking about “A dollar make me holla.” Huh? She sounds like a ghetto slut.

oldbabe writes:

Thank you! These people taught a 6 year old girl to talk and behave like she’s a street kid because they think it’s funny. The level of ignorance that believes it’s okay to do that to a child is bad enough, but putting themselves on display like a carnival freak show for a TV audience to gawk at sinks to the single-digit IQ level. Alana will never get the help she needs because her family thinks there’s nothing wrong with their behavior. That poor kid was doomed from conception.

The whole family looks like they’re related to Jabba the Hut.

suz at large writes:

This afternoon, after a week of thinking it over, I took both my HD/DVR boxes back to the cable company (I have 2 TVs here). Now, for the first time in 20 years, I do not have cable (or any kind of dish-based) TV service in my home. I did it to save a ton of money per month, and I didn’t make the decision easily or lightly. I finally realized that there are very few shows that I’d like to watch, that are only available on cable/dish TV. Now I have a bunch of sharp over the air channels available via antenna, and high speed internet service plus streaming devices for watching shows on my TVs, and the computer too for some shows that can be streamed to a ‘puter but no other devices.

And in the last analysis? It was the idea of this show – and the commercials for it – that pushed me over the tipping point into cutting the cable cord

The Thompson/Shannon family may be uneducated and fat and “redneck,” but calling a six-year-old a “ghetto slut” is far more morally objectionable, IMHO.

There is no denying that the word “ghetto”  and “street” are all kinds of racially charged, evoking images of urban, black dysfunction. The comments above are revealing of one interesting thing: Some folks may be made uncomfortable by “Honey Boo Boo” because it challenges their association of thin, shining, educated middle-classness with whiteness and Southern accents, fatness and poverty with blackness. They are ignorant of the similarities between white and black Southerners and white and black poverty, and so, when Honey Boo Boo drawls one of her famous phrases, she is acting like a “ghetto slut” or a “street kid.”

And then there is “slut.” Women and girls who are not compliant and quiet must be promiscuous–and promiscuous women are bad (i.e. sluts). The phrase that provoked this name calling was Alana’s “A dolla make me holla.” The kid claims to like money. Fine. But it is the adults analyzing the show who have equated a six-year-old’s love of money with prostitution. I am certain that Alana’s involvement in pageants plays a role in this analysis. Child pageants are highly-sexualized and disturbing affairs. But I also believe that a little boy saying the same phrase would likely be praised as a future business tycoon not accused of selling sex.

But Suz-at-large’s comment, though less offensive, is also revealing. There is a chorus of folks claiming that “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is a bridge too far, the bottom of the barrell, the worst of the worst and the last thing we’ll see before the Four Horsemen arrive.  And I believe this notion is also driven by who the Thompson/Shannon family is and how people like them activate American disgust in a way far greater problems do not.

We could have turned off the TV when VH1 was trading on stereotypes of black men with “Flavor of Love.” We could have pushed back when show runners on countless programs hunted for and showcased angry black women. The cable cord could have been cut during any of the shows from “Real Housewives of Orange County” to “Basketball Wives” designed to display women as catty, back-biting gold diggers.  “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the show that spawned “Honey Boo Boo” has lasted five seasons.

Pozner says, “I usually tell people you can keep watching your reality TV; just do it critically. ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ is the one show I believe people should turn off.

“The children on that show cannot possibly consent to the multiple layers of exploitation and sexualization. By watching the show, the audience is complicit.”

Why haven’t these other instances of rank exploitation by TV executives caused viewers to run to return their cable boxes en masse?

I suspect it’s because people find the dirtiness of the reality TV business, which Pozner unveils so capably in Reality Bites Back, less abhorrent than a defiantly poor, white, fat, Southern family.

There is something wrong with “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” But it is not the Thompson/Shannon family who, love of Cheetos and penchant for child pageants, gas passing and murdering of the Queen’s English aside, seem like a loving, happy and mostly decent tribe. The problem is that, this show–like many, many before it–looks to capitalize on America’s basest instincts. And in doing so, it encourages the ugliest of our biases. When we criticize this show, we should reserve our ire for the mercenary show runners who plan, stage and edit what we see. And we should remember, as Pozner points out, that “actors” on reality shows are not unionized. When folks have exhausted their revulsion and TLC has taken millions in ad revenues to the bank, Honey Boo Boo and her family might still be clipping coupons in a tiny house by the railroad tracks, having received little in return for becoming national laughingstocks for a season. And that’s not right.

  • doubledup

    Great analysis although I would say that you are treading towards equally moralistic assumptions. There is no better programming because it’s just that … programming. No matter how repugnant anyone finds this show, the Cosby Show or Frasier or I Love Lucy is just as entertaining for the same reasons … Overt stereotypes reinforced and broadcasted to a public that needs escape from its reality.

    The Cosby Show ran during the beginnings of black mass incarceration and the Reagan Administration’s gutting of social and mental health programs that set the stage for the real Heathcliff Huxtable condemnation of the same poor that we see in Honey Boo Boo. The Cosby Show centered around a doctor and defense lawyer, both of whom would’ve been confronted with the issues surrounding those cutbacks and incarcerations, yet there was no comedic discourse about the state of black America at the time. It was “Leave It to Beaver” for blacks.

    Honey Boo Boo’s family is real, as real as the editors of the show cut it, but what’s difference between them and Paul Ryan’s scripted family narrative. It’s all fake. All a show for the masses who need controlled images.

    Good luck finding better entertainment

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah

    “Reality tv” in general makes me want to call child services. Dance Moms, The Duggars, and every other show. I got rid of cable forever ago, because watching other people’s lives deteriorate (further) is sick.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    It always strikes me as both amusing and confusing how even fat, poor whites imagine white people as thin and middle-class. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising people committed to bigotry in all its illogicality would suffer from cognitive dissonance.

    Side note: While I agree with you on the use of the phrase ‘ghetto slut’, the phrase ‘street kid’ is rarely ever associated with black people. The addition of the ‘kid’ in that phrasing should be a dead giveaway. Our children are never allowed to be children by a significant proportion of white America.

  • Ms. Information

    I also don’t watch much television anymore…People are allowing themselves to be exploited at an all time high not realizing the end of their decisions…I can say however that whites have often allowed themselves to be seen in a great light on television not balancing the good with the bad. Maybe this show needs to be shown to destroy the stereotypes that all whites are beautiful, rich, and thin? Who know? I just won’t be watching.

  • Ms. Information

    knows*

  • http://gravatar.com/whattamisaid Tami (Clutch Contributor)

    Certainly, even some scripted TV relies on archetypes. That too can be problematic. But no one viewed The Cosby Show or Frasier as anything but scripted TV featuring approximations of upper-middle-classness, black and white. Heck, int he Cosby era, a lot of folks resisted the idea that there black families like Cliff and Clare’s.

    The problem is this notion of “reality.” Show runners seek out media hungry folks and train wrecks and put them into manufactured and edited situations designed to evoke stereotypes. And when faced with push back, they will tell us they are merely presenting “reality” when what they are showing is anything but.

  • Jade Noelle

    “Some folks may be made uncomfortable by “Honey Boo Boo” because it challenges their association of thin, shining, educated middle-classness with whiteness and Southern accents, fatness and poverty with blackness. They are ignorant of the similarities between white and black Southerners and white and black poverty, and so, when Honey Boo Boo drawls one of her famous phrases, she is acting like a “ghetto slut” or a “street kid.”

    Idk about that. I think that if Honey Boo Boo were Black and on BET, there would be an online protest from Black folk by now. I think the discomfort lies with people’s disdain/fascination with certain aspects of stereotypical Southern culture. “Rednecks” are not viewed as refined; likewise, people complain about a lot of the reality TV in Atlanta, and a lot of the people on those shows are rich.

  • Starla

    I have neither cable or internet at home. I am so disconnected from it all at home. I am also keeping more of my money in my pocket too.

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    The interesting thing about this show to me is that it is very rare for Whites to show this side of Whiteness. We all know that White people love to show and exploit poor Black people but they usually try to hide these types of White people.

    And it’s interesting now to see many Whites make the same complaints about this that many Black people make about shows that exploit poor Black people.

  • http://gravatar.com/whattamisaid Tami (Clutch Contributor)

    I think we agree on this. But it is important to note that the protest would be from black folks and generally not from the mainstream. From what I have experienced, the hand wringing over “Honey Boo Boo” is not coming from marginalized people (who–let’s face it–are used to seeing their own images destroyed by reality TV), but members of the mainstream who failed to toss their TVs over all kinds of previous reality show shenanigans. For some reason, it is THIS show that those folks see as the final straw.

  • Overseas_Honeybee

    Ummmm… I’m mad this show pulled in higher audience numbers than the RNC Convention. But then again …

    There are times that I’m so glad my access to reality TV is limited living overseas.This would qualify as one of them.

    Interesting to see how the tables have turned when its White folks being exploited.

  • Zulu

    I don’t have tv in my home so I don’t know whats on tv unless I watch online.

  • Kam

    The word street is codeword for black. Alana gets the word “kid” because she is white. It’s incredible how many people equate her behavior with Blackness (or their idea of it). On one site someone said of Alana, “Someone needs to tell her she’s White.”

  • Jade Noelle

    *nods*

  • African Mami

    how does this boo boo woo woo affect me as a black woman?! Ya’ll giving her unnecessary airtime/promotion.

  • ?!?

    Lol at “ghetto slut” and “street kid.” These were probably written by some white people who grew up in the suburbs and have no idea about the other side, or they’re embarrassed. I’m from the deep South, and I have met plenty of white people like Honey Boo Boo’s family. I went to school with them. I see them in the grocery store. They are not that rare. For some reason, people think that she is “acting black” and all white people are posh. There is a book “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” that talks about how many of the backwards things that African Americans do were actually first part of white Southerner’s culture, and how slaves learned and imitated the ways and culture of ole massa.

    There are several shows on TV showing redneck white people, so I don’t know why people are upset about this.

  • http://www.tamarawinfreyharris.com Tami (Clutch contributor)

    “Honey Boo Boo” matters because black women exist in the world and are as affected by pop culture and the race and class biases within it as anyone else.

    Black women can and should join the dialogue on all issues–not just ones labeled “black.”

  • E.M.S.

    First let me say I find it laughable that some folks went as far as to get rid of their cable/TV all together because of reality television. You do realize you have the power to watch something else right? (Discovery, History, Travel, Food Network or Animal Planet anyone?). The dramatics are not necessary.

    On the subject of Honey Boo Boo, the reactions are ironic. It’s interesting how quickly people feign exploitation when these individuals willingly choose to be showcased on national tv. It’s interesting how quickly viewers want to judge when they themselves are not perfect. It’s interesting how there is a constant whining about reality tv & yet, like a car wreck, millions (likely yourself included if you read this) keep watching.

    Don’t blame TLC, VH1, Bravo etc. for airing the shows they do, blame society’s insatiable desire to see certain people and their lives’ on display. They’re simply delivering the supply that meets the demand.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    ‘Street kid’ is not associated with black people, it is associated with white homeless teenagers and young people. If you live in a big city, you will know just the type of people this phrase is referencing. Separating the phrase distorts the meaning.

    I am solely referring to the use of the word in the comment in the post. I am not commenting on what people associate Alana with everywhere online.

  • http://gravatar.com/smokie001 smokie001

    Simply put, this show is funny. I love it and will continue to watch it.

  • au napptural

    I agree with the social assertions Tami made about race, but not the ones on parenting. This is NOT a functional family. They are pimping out the youngest child in beauty pageants for their own selfish gain and now THEY made the choice to prostitute the entire family on national tv for cash. I’m not mad at TLC-the job of the company is to make a profit, they couldn’t make one if this wasn’t a.) what people wanted to see and b.) what that family agreed to do.

    They don’t feel exploited. In fact, I bet they jumped for joy when TLC offered them a show. Now if you want to argue they are still being exploited and don’t know any better, it’s infantilization. I think this a bad choice but I also think putting their child in beauty pageants is a bad choice. Should I be able to stop them from making that one too? It all goes hand-in-hand. If it their right to make these choices, and profit from them, they also have to live with the consequences. They shouldn’t be protected from their own ignorance.

    I think in a quest to be fair and redress the balance for this family, you’ve overlooked the harm they are inflicting on their children. Let’s recap: they are profiting of their youngest child by stuffing her into makeup and tight clothes, and now exposing their entire family to the gaze of the nation (still for profit) when they know for a fact the commentary was going to sometimes be hurtful. I mean think of the hateful commentary they probably got when Honey Boo Boo first hit airwaves on Toddlers and Tiaras. Now you think it’s a good idea to take this to a tv show! And buying junk food at auction when your family is already living in those dire straits is frankly abusive.

    And I do agree with what the author Tami quoted said about the mother not being honest with herself. It is false bravado if she says she’s proud to be large, but then says I’d like to lose a hundred pounds, no matter what the reason.

  • cc

    I’m more concerned about how much junk food the child eats. Other than that… Viva La Honey Boo Boo Child! Seriously, we should be thankful that this is another show with thirsty gold digging men yearning for men with no morals living on borrowed time, fame and money. If people are seriously protesting to get this off the air, how about we focus on anything that got aired on VH1… ever? I’ll admit to watching and enjoying these reality TV shows but lets face it. For the Love of Ray J, Flavor of Love, any show with Ms. New York, Love and Hip Hop NY or ATL, Basketball Wives, Bad Girls Club, The Real Housewives of NJ, Jersey Shore, The Hills, My Super Sweet 16, Teen Mom (I don’t care how much Dr. Drew Pinsky says that teen pregnancy has gone down since the show aired, I still feel the data was either skewed or pure coincidence. and as for the other shows, I can keep naming all those mind numbing IQ reducing minstrel shows we call reality television…) are way more detrimental to society than Honey Boo Boo and her brethren.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeromeqbeck J.w. Beck

    Typical “black” woman trapped in the “black only” paradigm….I feel sorry for you.

  • African Mami

    *sigh* if only you knew……

  • doubledup

    You just explained my point further. Many actors, especially in soaps and sitcoms, say all the time how many people associate them with their character on screen. So I beg to differ that there is some huge difference between scripted shows and “reality” shows. Hell, most of the popular shows are now mockumentary style comedies and true crime, CSI shows that purport their realness. I guess I’m trying to understand what you think would be better programming.

  • Jac

    “First let me say I find it laughable that some folks went as far as to get rid of their cable/TV all together because of reality television. You do realize you have the power to watch something else right? (Discovery, History, Travel, Food Network or Animal Planet anyone?). The dramatics are not necessary.”

    - That made me lol :)

    You are exactly right. When a show does not have the ratings a network will cancel it. If you don’t like these shows, don’t watch. For example, I hear VH1′s Hollywood Exes may be cancelled, it just can’t pull the same ratings as something such as Love & Hip Hop because people love to watch all the drama. So for each person complaining about these shows, there’s probably a million other people that love to watch it. That’s why these shows survive.

    And as far as exploitation goes, nobody participating in a reality show is a victim. Reality TV has been popular for too long now for anyone to go in and act like they don’t know what’s coming. People are eager to exploit themselves hoping to jump start some sort of career. Many popular personalities we have today started out that way. And once you put yourself out there for the world to see you, you are fair game for tabloids and the opinions of the world.

    And there’s much analysis that can be done in regards to race, class, gender, and media, but I don’t feel the need to go that deep for everything. These people have a show, they make fun of themselves on said show, and I’m sure they get to enjoy the benefits of having this notoriety/15 min of fame.

  • LaNubiana

    @ J.W. Beck

    What’s wrong with black only “paradigm”? Is that so wrong?

    Why are you screeching typical black as if being typical black is a bad thing? I bet you are the type that thinks your better and much more enlightened than the rest of us. You probably have the mighty mind set of thinking for everybody when everybody is thinking for themselves and only the typical black is looking out for you. Sadly, these are the exact bloody elitist mentality that keeps us divided. For goodness sakes, I’ve never bloody heard aspersions by saying “typical black”! Abjure yourself from being stertorous.

    Bloody hell!

  • Zulu

    @EMS

    My refusal to purchase a tv isn’t due to reality tv, rather tv programming in general. If you go back and read my initial comment, I simply stated that I ‘do not own a tv’.

    I don’t have time to watch tv. I work, travel and read (of course I have Internet access for any other info I desire). Any information gained from discovery, history, national geo is intended for Western audiences (modified to fit their agenda and in some cases, used as a papoganda). I’m not an American nor am I European. I don’t expect an American television to teach me my history or even new discoveries. So far as food channel is concerned, I don’t think there is any insightful info that is shared on such metwork other than the typical American glutinous consumption. No thank you! Assumption is deadly so please practice critical reading.

    Ciao

  • http://twitter.com/VerbalTiye VerbalTiye (@VerbalTiye)

    I’m going to watch just because, it makes white people mad lmaooo. Paul Mooney approves this comment.

  • paul

    au napptural

    Now if you want to argue they are still being exploited and don’t know any better, it’s infantilization. I think this a bad choice but I also think putting their child in beauty pageants is a bad choice. Should I be able to stop them from making that one too? It all goes hand-in-hand. If it their right to make these choices, and profit from them, they also have to live with the consequences. They shouldn’t be protected from their own ignorance.

    Why shouldn’t people be protected from their own ignorance?

    Ignorance is an innocent state that can be exploited which is exactly the reason ignorant people need protection, especially when ignorance places children in harms way.

    I think your comment perfectly illustrates the true motives behind this kind of programming (‘programming’ is right) which I believe are about programming the viewer to come away with unsympathetic ideas about certain classes of people.

    Why should we care about these people, that’s how they CHOOSE to be -

    right?

    Ok fine, the people on relaity tv are getting paid, however the classes of people whom they’re used to represent will bare the brunt of our indifference or hatred.

    The exploitation issue becomes even more unsavoury, especially in light of your blase attitude to it – where you seem to think that if the parent is the one submitting a child for exploitation, it’s no one’s business to intervene on the child’s behalf?

    Is that really the kind of society you want to live in?

    I place the greatest burden of responsibility on programme makers to maintain ethical standards of practice. If they engage in practice that undermine those standards they should be taken off the air.

    Didn’t mean to single you out but your post was the one that contained all the stock arguments that are used to defend unethical practices in media.

  • Naomi

    “Cause fat women must be hiding some secret shame; women who don’t fit the beauty standard should know they are ugly” – when you are tat fat there must be shame. I would hate myself if I ever weighed over 300 pounds and you’d be hard pressed to find a sensible rational person who didn’t.

  • Brian

    What makes this show different is the extent of the dehumanization of the central characters. This comes through in the in the way in which the show is shot and edited. The cutaways focus on grotesque moments, like the dog licking its crotch or a child eating a cheese ball off of the floor. The show is cut together to highlight the grotesque, and the family knows they must perform to hold on to their time slot.

    It’s clear that the network feels no mercy towards this family and is completely comfortable cutting the show without factoring in the backlash that could occur through articles like this or lawsuits from the family. The network understands that this family has no voice and is entirely beholden to them. The network also understands that nobody will defend this family because they are “poor,” “white,” “rednecks.”

    This has been happening in the South and in Appalachia for a long time. It masks the cultural decimation and places the blame on the individual rather than looking at the larger cultural forces at play.

    Part of the reason that we are seeing no protest from poor whites is because of the shame and stigma attached to this identity. Those who “get out” reject where they came from in order to move up in the mainstream culture, and those who don’t “get out” define themselves against people like the family in this show. Furthermore, the biggest group that poor whites could align with is the African-American community, but unfortunately, the racism that has been passed down through generations in many poor white families serves to divide and conquer what could serve as a powerful, unified front against classism.

  • Rochelle

    Didn’t read the article, but 100 bucks says that the child the daughter is carrying is from a black man. Black men love white women like honey boo boo’s mom and teen daughters.

  • http://gravatar.com/whattamisaid Tami (Clutch Contributor)

    I don’t think it’s infantilization to say that reality TV participants are exploited. I definitely don’t think Honey Boo Boo’s family is being UNIQUELY exploited. In other words, I think most reality TV participants are being exploited by a system they imagine they can control.

  • http://gravatar.com/whattamisaid Tami (Clutch Contributor)

    IMHO, sensible, rational and healthy people do not hate themselves. In fact, I’d say that hating yourself is generally a pretty bad impetus to making healthy life changes. Few folks ever got healthy behind self hatred.

  • NorthernAsianandWorkingclass

    You know what else is interesting? Racist black people have no problem making comments like yours and giving “thumbs up” on supposedly mainstream black websites.

    Poor, redneck White people have been the subject of jokes and used as villains for DECADES. Almost never sympathetic, unlike African American characters.

    Set your own racist house in order.

  • NorthernAsianandWorkingclass

    I wonder why they don’t have reality TV making fun of White liberals.

  • NorthernAsianandWorkingclass

    It’s good to see that racist black people are so open with their hate.

  • NorthernAsianandWorkingclass

    Denial isn’t healthy either.

  • paul

    Rochelle

    lol!

    aw c’mon, you were being so nice to black men (me) just the other day.

    ha ha . . .

  • http://gravatar.com/cleopas56 cleopas56

    You know I cannot blame this obviously very poor family for agreeing to do this reality show – I think they get 3 thousand dollars per episode. What really disgusts me is a society that chooses to keep a giant portion of their populace stuck / mired in ignorance and allows them to literally wallow in poverty. And given the state of our economy more and more American families are facing this reality – both white and black. This is happening at the same time athletes make 20 million plus for bouncing or throwing balls. This is happening at the same time celebrities make 20 million plus for playing dress up and pretend for movies made in 3 months. What is up with someone like Jennifer Anniston spending $50 thousand dollars a week on her hair – Kardashians (speaking of low class trash) walking around with $10 thousand dollar bags – Suri Cruise wearing thousand dollar outfits at the age of 4. If I were president every single penney after individuals earn 1 million would be collected and used to help our growing poor. I’m sorry if you cannot live on a million dollars a year – too bad! If something is not done soon future generations of Americans will face futures that look much like honey boo boo. Yes I do agree that even in poverty you can live with dignity……however poverty breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds dysfunction – these people are innocent in their ignorance.
    It is the society that we find ourselves that is accountable and at the moment disgusting. Our government needs to be held accountable – greedy filthy corporate scum is guilty as charged.
    PS This is not a white or black “thing” – this is a human thing.
    for the record I am white, female, christian

  • http://gravatar.com/cleopas56 cleopas56

    A so agree…Im not sure why but in the U.S. African Americans are allowed to be racist. Im not saying all – thankfully (I attend a church that is 50% African American and everyone totally gets along – and they are the first to agree that many blacks are very racist ) – but for whatever reason a certain segment of blacks cannot even comprehend the concept of blacks being racist…..when in fact they are probably some of the most racist people on the planet.
    Its very peculiar times we live in. Actually had this boo boo family been black there would be marches protesting – and someone would swoop in and rescue this family. The white race is overlooked in every segment of American society……they are overlooked for college placement….they are overlooked in job placement….they do not qualify for assistance…..it is social engineering at its worst – in one or two generations reverse racisim has destroyed many people.

  • http://gravatar.com/cleopas56 cleopas56

    I so totally agree Saidah!

  • doubledup

    Are you serious?? So if I’m reading your right, you don’t agree with the exploitation of Honey Boo Boo but you understand TLC’s position as a company. The nuclear family is essential to the economy as an incubator for workers to help drive the economy so it’s as economical as TLC.

    You don’t know what’s in these people’s hearts. What’s the difference between Honey Boo Boo and Rudy from The Cosby Show, oh, your sensibilities, right?

    It seems like it was great idea since we’re talking about it and it a highly rated show.

  • Rochelle

    sorry, paul. I have to tell it like it is.

  • http://Huffingtonpost T.j.

    We are a country of 360 million Americans. The masses (357 million) can/will help its people. The remaining 3 million (rich) people will never be able to generate enough money to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.
    I’m T.j., a regular black guy earning under 50k who gives whatever I can to others.

  • Taryn

    Thank you for the article. It is very sad, like some of these comments.

  • Nic

    You aren’t kidding there. And there are plenty that would knock over Nia Long to get to her too…

  • Amanda

    This is the most honest thing I have ever seen anyone write about this show. I grew up around people like this being poor and white in the South and it pains me every time I see the promos- I can’t even bring myself to watch. All I feel for this family is pity and I refuse to talk badly about them when friends and coworkers bring up the show. This almost brought me to tears- thank you

  • james

    The irony is that this family is a bit more honest than the Kardashian’s. The only reason all the people in America accept the Kardashian’s is because they have cash. They lie to one another, manipulate and look for sports figures to date to be taken care of.

    That’s acceptable.and that’s fuc*** sad!

  • james

    They are it’s called the Kardashian’s. The only problem is they want to be like them!

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  • Ginny

    THANK you for this amazing article! It really bothers me, the way people ridicule this family. Do they have issues? Yes. But it shows America’s ugliness, that we consider this “entertainment” AND “disgusting” all at once. We love to laugh at these people and then insult them to death…yet we will happily watch people like the Kardashians or the vapid girls on The Hills, simply because they’re trendy, wealthy, and skinny? That’s not right.
    It shows that deep down, we care WAY more about appearances than we ever will about behavior. Because I find the catty, selfish, and rude behavior of the Kardashians much more appalling then a bunch of simple country “rednecks”.

  • Chrissy

    If you do not like what AA’s have to say then why are you on this website?

    Some ppl really kill me.

    Now that black people may start to have an advantage white people are being overlooked?? So I guess when black people were (and still are) being overlooked everything is fine. But the minute a white person is overlooked for something…Problem.

    Please.

  • CJ Loveday

    This show is horrible. I feel the need to hide my accent when I’m not in the south because of shows like this. I’m apparently inbred hillbilly trash because television networks like TLC know they can make money exploiting the FEW southern people that are actually like this. Most southern people have guns and know that they are being mocked for the sake of numbers. I hope the people at TLC, Fox, and other networks realize this.

  • ben

    so how much does boo boo charge for pulling tricks? what you mean she hasn’t gone pro yet?!

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  • Andre

    Vast majority of fat white women have kids with white guys. Honey boo boo’s family is a pretty good example of that, and contradicts your racist belief.

  • Denise

    I cant stand this show! Or this family. They need to teach this little girl some manners. It just disgust me to think this is acceptable to america and they watch this crap!!! TLC should be ashamed of themselves for airing this. I wish I would allow my kid to act like this. Just the commercials for this show get under my skin!! DISGRACE!!!

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  • http://gravatar.com/hsrevb hsrevb

    Wanna know what’s wrong with Honey Boo Boo? She’s hideous. I can’t even get her name out without shuddering at her hideousness.

  • http://yahoo regina

    To the person who wrote ”Cause fat women must be hiding some secret shame; women who don’t fit the beauty standard should know they are ugly; ”. You (whoever made this statement) like a lot of people in this country have a flawed sense of what beauty is.Beauty is not a slim waist line and a ‘perfect’ body it is how you see yourself and how you treat others. So before you judge the woman not on her behavior but her weight, you should take a step back and ask yourself why is it okay to think these words ” Cause fat women must be hiding some secret shame; women who don’t fit the beauty standard should know they are ugly;” As for the rest of you judgmental bad-mouthers out there , focus on how to properly raise your own children not someone else’s and if the show was as bad as you think it is then it wouldn’t get such good ratings.Our shows and their ratings reflect the american people.

  • http://techiebeginners.WordPress.com Heather

    I think you missed the point…

  • Fock Yin

    Which is…?

  • maroonmudskipper

    They call that sarcasm here on Earth.

  • selena

    my take on it is that people hate this show because it messes with their prejudices: yes, this family may have made some bad choices.
    but they DO love their children (and thus this love must be discounted by building some ‘overfeeding children = abuse’ argument that is very insulting to any child suffering from actual abuse or neglect).
    they DO make the best of their bad financial situation without turning to crime over violence but by skimping on good food (but ‘dump diving’ and ‘eating of the land aka roadkill’ is only cool when rich kids do it because of recycling, when people do it out of necessity it is gross)

    i grew up poor myself and it didn’t take long to figure out that rich people love pretending to be poor in several ways (hanging out with poor kids in a 3th world country, occasionally buying second-hand goods, etc), which then just gives them excuses to look down even further on actually poor people (‘you have it far better than those kids’, ‘you should buy all your stuff second-handed and save so much money’)

  • KattoTang

    The person who wrote that doesn’t think that, they’re explaining how society treats women, you moron.

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