“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo isn’t the work of a network that has bamboozled a group of people who are too dumb to know it; it’s a collaborative expression, a family-approved presentation of its own portrait,” wrote Rich Juzwiak in Gawker. But to embrace them as a happy-go-lucky, if struggling, family is a little romantic, too. Viewers of the show miss out on a lot of context if they’ve never watched Toddlers & Tiaras. Alana’s family stuck out like a smushed toe. Class differences take on special shades in the South, especially in small towns, where one’s family matters as much to town opinion as one’s character does. Being a beauty queen means being a certain kind of girl, and those girls usually aren’t the daughters of what many would see only as morbidly obese forklift operators who like to ride four-wheelers and roll around in the mud; they’re daughters of women who were once beauty queens themselves. (As one Toddlers & Tiaras eight-year-old astutely says of her mom, “She’s trying to live her teenage days again.”) Many of the moms are blond, primped, and prissy—the etiquette coach isn’t the only woman of the pageant world who sneers at June and her kids.
Those are the people the Thompsons interact with in their real lives. We aren’t just seeing the visible markers of class; we’re watching a seven-year-old learn them.
This – “Redneckognize” by Monica Potts in The American Prospect – is some really interesting analysis of classism on TV. I don’t watch Honey Boo Boo, not because I am above reality television but because if there isn’t sex and/or violence in the show then I tend to drift off. I am so tired these days when I finally sit down to watch TV that I need things that appeal to my base instincts to hold my attention. Am not proud of that, just counting the days until Walking Dead comes back on.
Speaking of horror, this is also an interesting read. It’s a piece from Holly L. Derr over at the Ms. Magazine Blog about the recent spate of family-centred horror films at the moment and what they say about our views on the family.
The Possession, currently in theaters, centers on the character of Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), whose job distracts him from attending to the needs of his daughters in the aftermath of his divorce from their mother, Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick). He’s so distracted, in fact, that his youngest manages to get herself infected with a Dybbuk. This pre-pubescent girl, who’s in possession of a symbolic “open box,” “ring,” and “thing growing inside her,” speaks to our lingering cultural discomfort with women becoming sexually active before marriage. The takeaway message: No matter the presence or skill of the mother, children can never be safe without their biological fathers around.