No respect–and the boo-boo of Honey Boo Boo

October 30, 2014

thHeadlines these days are full of horror. It’s become the new normal. Kids shooting other kids. Law enforcement officers and soldiers shot to death. Home-grown terrorists of all stripes doing shocking and horrific things.

There is no respect, none at all, and we are surprised.

And yet, we shouldn’t be.

Just look at popular TV shows and movies, for a clue about what our culture is like these days.

The most popular shows are horribly violent, with shootings and murders and bombings and other violence. Think about how often young people have seen this kind of stuff growing up. In our youth TV meant Westerns and family shows and comedies. Today it’s blood and gore.

M and I are fans of the cop and jail reality shows, which have given us a deeper understanding of what law enforcement officers face every time they put on their badge. We watch for hours, mostly with furrowed brows and puzzled looks. Because the lack of respect for law enforcement and the overall sense of entitlement among  perpetrators are astonishing.

This is not how we were raised and not how our parents and grandparents were raised. But, apparently, this is what’s out in the world now—criminals who think they know “their rights,” who believe they don’t have to follow law enforcement’s orders (“you can’t tell me what to do!!!”)  and who act out in the craziest of ways.

So let’s take these crazy, entitled people who consume violent media content and make guns easily available to them.

Are we surprised at the headlines now?

Are we surprised that officers in northern California were shot at point blank range last week? And that others were hacked with an axe? That a Canadian soldier was killed in Ottawa? That high school students were gunned down by a kid armed with his dad’s handgun?

I’m surprised, and what I’m surprised at is that so few people in charge acknowledge the link between this violence, violent media content and the easily availability of guns. And I’m surprised that–thanks to the gun lobby– gun control still isn’t a reality in this country, despite the huge amount of gun violence in our nation,  far more than that of any other first world country. It’s like the wild West out there.

There’s something wrong with our value system. Maybe not yours or mine, but certainly that of our society as a whole.

I point the finger at media and TV specifically for playing a major role in fostering a value system that I simply do not understand.  In the interests of TV revenue, they not only glorify violence but they make celebrities of people who in any other context would be considered total losers. Criminals, even.

Let us take, for example, the recent news about the Honey-Boo-Boo family. Apparently Mama June is dating a sex offender. And not just any sex offender; one who had molested her own daughter in the past.

Her own daughter.

I mean. Seriously??

Yes, these are the kind of people TLC featured in a reality show. Or they DID…. until the network discovered that a sex offender was going to be part of the mix. Before anyone could get down on TLC, they cancelled the show. Instantly.  Because they knew that this Honey Boo Boo situation was going to be a big boo-boo. But they’d made their money off it. They could now move on to some other low-rent family.

And the American media audience will happily watch.

I don’t know what kind of genetic brew spawned Mama June, but she seems completely clueless that dating a man who molested her daughter is inappropriate.  And this is a character, a “star”  on a popular U.S. “reality” show. We may snicker as we watch, but we watch, and that is one of the problems.

Now, I’ve never seen the show. And I had absolutely no idea why a network would choose such an appalling family to feature. Except for the money, of course.  The same reason the gun lobby is so powerful. Money. The American god.

And I can’t sign off without mentioning the Kardashians. I’ve written before about how outraged I am that young women idolize Kim Kardashian and buy her products—and that parents know that her fame began from the strategic release of an explicit sex tape. What mother in her right mind would think Kim Kardashian was a good role model for her daughters? Or allow that kind of TV program in their home?

Of course, these shows are not the only ones that any reasonable person would question. Check out just about any network for violence, mayhem and low-rent characters. Take time to notice the values they portray–and those we see in today’s world.

It’s depressing.

Because even as we rail against the headlines we see every day, we refuse to do anything about it. We let the NRA keep gun control at bay. We let our kids consume inappropriate media content. And we consume media product that is so far afield from the world we want to live in that I simply do not understand why we continue to be shocked at our violent and value-less society.

And what’s scariest is that I see no way this will change. None.

How about you? What do you think?

33 comments on “No respect–and the boo-boo of Honey Boo Boo
  1. Carol Graham says:

    I am terrified watching my grand children grow up in this new world. You are right — there is nothing you can do. But I am also so very grateful that my children are raising their kids in like manner to the way they were raised — that is my only hope.

    When you mentioned Honey Boo Boo’s mother, that whole scenario makes me want to throw up.

  2. PatU says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth!

    Another example is the video that is making the rounds, of the little girls dropping F-Bombs for Feminism.

    In my opinion it is a disgusting exploitation of little girls for fame and glory.

  3. The explanation I’ve heard that makes most sense to me is that 1. These people represent the “other” that we can all look down on and say, rightly, “You know, MY life isn’t all that great right now, but at least I’m nowhere near THAT much of a train wreck.” Kind of a “there but for the grace of God” kind of thing. And 2. They take the place of the sideshow freak. Something to point at, stare at, and say, “Geez, will you you look at THAT freak!”

  4. Carolann says:

    I agree. We are going to hell in a hand-basket! I’m so glad my kids weren’t raised with the brain-numbing television shows that are on today. They watched Sesame Street and The Never-ending Story! I never indulge in reality TV. I find nothing about them interesting. It is scary out there for sure!

  5. There is such a difference between reality tv and “violent” tv shows Carol. I went through an Investigation Discovery year, it was mainly the only thing that I ever had on the TV. We bought a security system during that year. Because they are airing Truth, Things That Happened. I got scared.

    Violent TV shows … Ok first, I am going to defend because I am hooked on Sons of Anarchy. It is a total fantasy “wtf” show, extremely violent, I have to cover my ears at times and my eyes at others. Same with American Horror Story. Actually AHS scared me so bad that I made hubby start watching it with me.. BUT, I love to be scared. I love thrilling TV, drama, horror, science fiction.. all of it. But here’s the thing, 99% (okay maybe less) watch these kind of shows knowing that they are fiction. FICTION. Sure there is that stray person that is going to think that making a living selling pot is a good idea because of Weeds, or that living in jail might be a life experience because of OITNB, but seriously. Fiction. Entertainment. I mustn’t be the only person who loves it because the industry gives it to me. And I don’t get any “ideas” from Fiction TV.

    I did watch honey boo boo once, rather “tried” to, and clicked it back to discovery ID because I didn’t understand what MamaJune was saying. The few minutes I peeked into their lives, I made the decision that it wasn’t interesting enough to hold my attention. (Mama June is an idiot) BUT, I flipped onto Alaska: The last frontier, and I could not stop watching.

    anyway… I hope you understand my defense of the entertainment value of tv. I’m glad there is such a wide variety of things on TV, things that allow us to peek into different lives and be thankful for what I have, and also for TV shows that make me cover my eyes and plug my years. These crazy shows help me be less afraid of real world problems like ISIS. xo

    • The link between the two is that lowering of values overall. I see it clearly. It is a trend toward the lowest common denominator. As for violent media–I think it’s bad for society. It’s one thing to be a grown up adult who can put violence in perspective but it is another thing for an entire generation or more of kids to be raised on this stuff and not get the difference between real life violence and what they see on tV.

  6. This comes along just after I watched our SC governor whom I have supported for the 3 years I’ve lived here even though she is a Republican say that she didn’t agree that guns should not be sold to people convicted of domestic violence. I am so angry SC has the highest number of fatalities due to domestic violence in the WHOLE country! Now I know why. I’ve never seen the Honey Boo Boo train wreck either and think social services should be making an appearance very soon. Why do people need to be able to buy an AK or some other deranged assault rifle. There is absolutely no uses for them other than killing people. I don’t get it. Other than Survivor and Amazing Race which we have been a fan of for years we watch National Geographic and the discovery channel at least when somebody kills something there they are doing it for food not fun!

  7. Karen, I too, love a spooky and sometimes FANTASY violent television show and I do not watch reality television. These type of shows started during writers strikes and poor economics in television land. We stopped telling stories and starting allowing voyeurism. We have blurred the lines between fantasy and reality for far too long on television. Children have no way of discerning why one show is “real” and the other show isn’t. I say let’s STOP reality television altogether. Quit throwing people into the Lion’s Den just for our entertainment. We are not Romans. This is not the Coloseum. AND I know. How’s this? Turn the darn thing off occasionally and have some fun with your family. Personal interaction, empathy and parenting can turn this back in the right direction. UGH. I feel you. Thank you for bringing up such a hot topic.

  8. Karen says:

    It seems to me that the underlying issue here is cold, hard cash. Honey Boo Boo and her family are famous because a network saw an opportunity to make money from public voyeurism. Guns are ubiquitous because the gun-making industry wants to make money, and so they fund a powerful lobby group to ensure they do. The entertainment industry wants to make money, so they shove death and sex in our faces, because sex and death sell.

    When untrammeled greed is allowed to become a culture’s prime directive, we all suffer.

  9. Great article and interesting discussion. I never watched Honey Boo Boo but I heard about it. People love to make money and if they can make fun of people who make more choices and are uneducated, they will do that too. There’s a reality show filmed in Kentucky (near me) about people who drill for oil. They make them look as ignorant as they possibly can. It’s disgusting. I watched once because I knew some of the people but couldn’t make myself watch again.

  10. Linda Roy says:

    *Stands and claps* Bravo! So well said Carol. Media is desensitizing our kids, our society. I started watching The Walking Dead because my husband is really into it and we never watch TV together. Now, I’m I really squeamish person. I can’t handle violence, gore, any of it. But I got sucked into this show because of the excellent writing, acting and character development. But what bothers the heck out of me is the level of violence in this show – the most popular show on TV, even out ranking the Super Bowl. The level of violence and gore is ramped up with each episode. It’s genuinely disturbing to viewers, which at least shows there is still some sensitivity out there. And it’s science fiction. But it makes me wonder where the line is drawn? How far is too far? It’s not a good thing, and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

  11. Liv says:

    That’s why we don’t have cable.

  12. I try not to encourage producers by watching wacky shows. But I will admit that I have watched a few episodes of shows for the gawking factor. But I have teens in the house, so I had to draw the line. We don’t watch New Girl. Way too much sex talk. We don’t watch Bachelor Pad. I stopped watching ANTM because it was so petty and vapid. I have never watched Honey Boo Boo or Jersey Shore or the reality housewives series. I didn’t click on one story about the phone hacking of celebrity news picks because I didn’t want to encourage more news stories on that (or encourage hackers). I try to view my clicks and views as “votes” for what kind of programming and news stories I want. Sometimes I do fall off the wagon and gawk, but most of the time I just “keep on driving past the wrecks.”

  13. Diane says:

    Oh, Carol! It is all so true! I wondered as the games grew more and more violent where it would all end. And we’re seeing it now. I read a statistic that the average child has killed hundreds – literally hundreds – of people on video games before they have even left their teens! How can this not affect them? And that didn’t even include TV or movies! Those statistics are the ones we need to change. Put stronger standards on the media that our young people are exposed to! It’s scary out there!

  14. Kim Tackett says:

    Well, when things get to be too much for me, I turn to tending my small corner of the world with all the love and compassion I can muster. As for TV, I never did well with violence or even cop shows (I am afraid of everything). But I do love Survivor, Project Runway, Top Chef, Amazing Race and The Voice. When my girls were young, they were too busy with sports to watch extra tv but if they watched something I thought was borderline, I watched it with them (and that included Friends, ANTM and some of the MTV stuff) so we could always talk about it. And…they both chose to go to university in other countries (Kate in Canada, Alex in The Netherlands). Tend with love, tend with love.

  15. Carol, you articulated so well what I believe. My son works in law enforcement and goes to work wearing a bullet-proof vest. It’s disgusting what verbal abuse he receives while he is serving the community. Also, I watched the video using the little princess girls swearing like longshoremen. It broke my heart that parents exploited their daughters just to sell t-shirts. But, many of the young mommy bloggers approved of the video. I adore their writing but don’t agree with them on this one.

  16. WendysHat says:

    It’s always been so baffling to me. I’ve always said that the so called REALITY TV is the most unrealistic television I’ve ever seen. It’s no wonder that we’re now seeing a generation that knows nothing of the great time a family used to have gathering around the tv on a Saturday night to watch a show together or maybe on Sunday night to watch the Animal Kingdom and then the Disney movie of the week. This generation doesn’t even know how to act appropriately unless they’ve been taught it at home and unfortunately not nearly as many have as needed to.

  17. I am so with you and, saddest to me, is the fact that, like you, I see no end to it. We have dumbed down our society to such a degree that we shouldn’t be surprised by any of the behavior we see any more. It is truly depressing.

  18. I completely agree with you, Carol! We used to live about 30 miles from the Boo Boos. They never should’ve had a TV show. They’re just trashy people willing to exploit themselves for a dollar. And I’ve always wondered why anyone would care one iota about the Kardashians. They’re a whole other kind of trash.

  19. My main guilty pleasure is 1st 48. Similar cases, but the puzzle pieces change.

    I can’t watch Honey Boo Boo. I feel I need a shower afterwards (even when she was on the other stupid show she was on).

    Interestingly, I feel the same way about Jackie Evanchko. Pretty and exploited.

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