Maybe this wasn’t such a big fat Honey Boo Boo
How could a seven-year-old chubby redneck beauty queen be named as one of 2012’s Most Fascinating People?
Eyebrows were certainly raised when Alana Thompson, star of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, made it onto US TV journalist Barbara Walters’ famous list alongside US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Ben Affleck.
And yet at the same time, her reality TV show, a spinoff from Toddlers and Tiaras, is being slammed by others as evidence of “the decay of Western civilisation”.
It’s not surprising that a program that showcases farting as a weight loss measure, provides an analysis of nose picking, and gives helpful hints about eating roadkill, provokes such extreme reactions.
TV critics and social commentators don’t like to be reminded that there are people who don’t base their family lives around the availability of organic single-bean lattes, vintage vinyl records and 24-hour independent book shops.
Whether they like it or not, Honey Boo Boo and her family are more like the average American than most of those attacking them.
Honey Boo Boo’s mother “Mama” isn’t the only woman in America to have four kids from different fathers, to love shopping coupons “more than sex” and to have a pregnant teenage daughter.
Yes, they’re pretty out there – in Honey Boo Boo’s world girl parts are called “biscuits”, words like “vajiggle jaggle” and “beautimous” are just made up, and barbecue sauce goes on every meal.
But when we strip away all the superficial outrageousness, we see a family that loves each other, and sticks together through adversity.
While it is an extreme example, this is a real snapshot of middle America: a land of women with large thighs who make ends meet by collecting coupons, and whose kids will leave school early and spend their lives earning minimum wage.
But at the same time, this is a world where teenagers don’t get kicked out of home because they’re pregnant, where dads accept and love kids born to other men, and where family sticks together through thick and thin.
In fact, Honey Boo Boo’s family could teach many of their detractors a thing or two about not taking yourself too seriously and looking after the people you love.
In any case, I don’t buy the line that this is all about serving up poor people on a platter for the rest of us to laugh at, because most times we’re laughing with them, not at them.
The critics miss the whole point: it’s howlingly funny.
On a tour of the house, Mama describes her bedroom as the “place where magic happens – NOT”.
“But I did find some toenails in there one time,” she says, cracking herself up.
That said, there are legitimate questions to be asked about what the family is getting from the show’s producers.
They must be making TLC, their cable TV channel, a fortune and it’s only right they get to share it.
There’s also the concern that the stars may be pushed over time to become more and more extreme in order to keep up the shock factor that makes this such compelling TV.
Let’s hope there’s someone around looking after their long term interests.
In the end, Honey Boo Boo and her family may have a dining room lined with hundreds of rolls of toilet paper, sleep with their pet pig, and think “sugar makes everything taste better”.
But, as Mama explains, “Our family is crazy but we like to be ourselves”.
It’s hardly the end of Western civilisation.
Judge for yourself when the show comes to Foxtel next month. Sure, you’ll see some freakish behavior, but you might also find there’s a little Honey Boo Boo in you too.
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