My stomach turned as I watched headlines I initially thought were a joke evolve into reality.
It was true. “Scratch and Sniff” viewing cards have been published to accompany the new season opener of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” A promotional clip for the show ends with the entire “Boo Boo” family standing together, reacting as the show’s namesake passes gas and smiles into the camera.
Someday, a grown Honey Boo Boo (real name: Alana Thompson) will have the chance to watch the show through different eyes. And I wonder, will she feel exploited? And if she does, is the network more liable, or are/is her consenting parent(s)? What about all the children who were given fake teeth to wear along with hair pieces and adult-styled clothing shown on “Toddlers and Tiaras?” How will they feel as adults, watching their childhood selves act out “spontaneous” takes that were sometimes staged as many as six times in a row?
I noticed another headline today that I never considered as a joke. Rather, I thought that it was one of the most real headlines I’ve seen about the entertainment world in a while. Evidently, Mary-Louise Parker is considering backing out of the acting world. Why? She’s tired of what people have revealed of themselves in comments on the internet, and perhaps the content of reality television. She’s tired of realizing how people choose to consume what must be their very worst choices for entertainment and then reflect their worst selves by talking about the shows online in days following.
In a short interview she said: ”It’s a mean culture – it’s reality TV and it’s watching people suffer and watching people humiliate themselves. It’s little girls in pageants and housewives and plastic surgery and people in rehab. It just feels like a very ugly … it’s like someone just lifted up a rock and that’s all we’re looking at.”
So Parker’s solution is to remove herself from this world, mainly because of how it might influence her children. But what about those children who couldn’t remove themselves from exploitation? What about the children who might someday realize the levels of exploitation they experienced were layers and layers deep. What about the ones who feel so harmed they decide to sue?
I suppose if that does happen, the only real question will be who to name in the lawsuit. Will it be the parents who signed the contract? The network who wrote the contract and produced the show? Or, will it be us, the society who watched the show then wrote hateful comments online the following day?
Tonight I’m grateful for Mary-Louise Parker taking some sort of stand against “Meanness,” and I’m reflecting on how I can take my own personal position of being “even kinder and even gentler” to those around me this week.
I hope you will too.
Goodness knows our world could use as much kindness as we can muster.
["Featured Image" photo retrieved from Slate.com, who used it with courtesy from Chris Fracticelli from TLC]