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.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDST.

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26 comments

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    • acotrel says:

      05:24am | 29/12/12

      ‘you might also find there’s a little Honey Boo Boo in you too.

      The problem is that we never seem to be able to see ourselves as others see us.  Have a look at the Republicans and ‘the fiscal cliff’ in America, then stand back and look at Australia.  Can you see the same sorts of idiots playing their type of games ?

    • Rose Bush says:

      01:15pm | 29/12/12

      Pyeegh and to think 2013 will be an election year and unfortunately there will be more leftie pinkie comments from you Alcotel not such a happy new year after all

    • TChong says:

      06:31am | 29/12/12

      “Some folks’ll never eat a skunk
      But then again, some folks’ll…..”
      I never knew Cletus was a documentary , until HBB .

    • nihonin says:

      06:33am | 29/12/12

      Gunna need a lot of cement, might go stock up.  I could make a mint here and possibly retire today wink

    • Sarah says:

      07:41am | 29/12/12

      What’s so positive and uplifting about absent dads?

    • zelly says:

      12:22pm | 29/12/12

      But that’s the whole point.  He’s not absent.  He’s just not biological.

      I’m so glad someone finally wrote this.  I don’t really like watching the show, i freak out watching reality shows, but i find them hilarious and kinda cool.  Totally bizarre, but i live on a farm with 5 goats, 24 chickens, three rooster, several guinea pigs, rabbits, 1 inside cat, a very lonely peacock and some dogs.  Weird shit goes on with us too.

      Be tolerant.  You might find you become a nicer person.

      PS not all of this was directed at Sarah, obviously.

    • Jamo says:

      01:41pm | 29/12/12

      Nothing, but it the dad in the show loves the kids that are not actually his. that is what is uplifting. heaps of cultures do this but ours.

    • jen says:

      08:10am | 29/12/12

      Dear God, that child actually did just say, “I holla for a dolla.” Why is anybody watching this crap.

    • Gregg says:

      11:32am | 29/12/12

      That’s Julia for you!

    • Gary T says:

      12:12pm | 29/12/12

      Greg. If that’s the best you can come up with you should seek professional help.

    • Gregg says:

      08:16am | 29/12/12

      ” 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, “

      Don’t know about sleeping with the pet pig but maybe seeing as we still have a paper manufacturing industry, if we bought just Australian recycled paper rolls that could help stimulate the industry and by lining all house walls with rolls bought in those triple dozen plastic wrapped packs, think of the energy and time savings with the additional insulation and less floor area to have to clean.

      There’s also some bargains in toilet rolls at times, often down to 25c/roll as against some that are even a bit more than 50c.

      They even build eco houses out of straw bales so maybe we could even build houses out of bales of toilet paper.

    • BJ says:

      08:58am | 29/12/12

      Ms Waters had to choose a token white, working class person. She chose one who others would be reluctant to attack, because of her age. It was actually a safe choice.

    • Anticitizen1 says:

      09:10am | 29/12/12

      I could only watch it for a two minutes before I had to close the Youtube page with it. It is like a festival of mediocrity, a celebration of the redneck “culture”. I have said this before and I will say it again, reality shows are like going to the zoo except there are people in the enclosures and this show examplifies this like no other. And no I didn’t laugh because it wasn’t funny but just sad, a study of how low people can fall without proper upbringing and education.

    • ZSRenn says:

      01:49pm | 29/12/12

      I closed the page and then removed it from my watched list so nobody would know I had.  Now I understand why Yanks won’t give up their guns to save the lives of thousands of Children if this is one of its most fascinating people.

      They Just Brain Dead!

    • Scotty P says:

      11:19am | 29/12/12

      The story seems to be a one sided promotion for the show. People accuse it of being the end of civilization for the fact that it shows the worst that we have become in the west. Obesity is bad, as is women having 4 children to as many fathers and then expecting handouts to look after them. All this show does is make the losers that live/act like this family think they should continue as is and not feel that they are losers, if they felt like losers then perhaps they would change for the better and drag society up a level. But alas this show suports the opposite, by making people think it’s okay to be a loser… just let youself go snd drop all your social standards.

    • Xiandra says:

      12:13pm | 29/12/12

      Maybe they aren’t losers, just because they are different doesn’t make them losers. We’re all meant to be different you know. Until you’ve walked in another person’s shoes, how can you know what that person is like?

    • Vicki PS says:

      12:17pm | 29/12/12

      Fat isn’t a moral issue, and lifestyle isn’t a contest.  If you have to divide humanity into winners and losers, you are truly lost.

    • Saidij says:

      11:27am | 29/12/12

      Well, I love Honey Boo Boo and her family! They are real people at least. No presumption or pride, not stuck up, and can laugh at themselves. I’m not laughing at them, I’m laughing at the detractors - it’s them that need to take a big bite of reality!!

    • jamie says:

      01:12pm | 29/12/12

      As Bob says it correctly in that cartoon The Incredibles,“It’s psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity!”

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:14pm | 29/12/12

      We need James Cameron to raise the bar. These people are garbage

      There used to be a time where people would try to better themselves. Now we revel in the lowest common denominator this is the downfall of western civilisation. I welcome our new Asian overlords who will free us from this trash and usher in a new time of frugal work ethic

    • Jamo says:

      01:51pm | 29/12/12

      My fave part of this article…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.

      Some parts of our culture are shite. I like this family enjoys life, as they are, not as they are expected to be.

    • Duane says:

      02:36pm | 29/12/12

      I wonder what would happen if (say) ‘The Curiosity Show’ were to be produced again, or perhaps ‘Why Is It So?’, or any similar format. Why does ‘reality TV’ always have to pander to the lowest common denominator? There are some really good programs around – ‘Time Team’ comes to mind, but they are rare. Gutter dwelling, bottom scraping, moronic drivel such as this is hardly likely to tempt me back to free to air TV.

    • Carol says:

      02:40pm | 29/12/12

      Saidij,
      As trolls go, you have to be one of the best. If you really mean what you say?
      There is no hope for this world.

    • Leah says:

      03:12pm | 29/12/12

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that families such as Honey Boo Boo’s are the end of western civilisation (however they do represent a decline in it), but rather, the fact that people will watch it on TV (and toddler beauty pageants).

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      03:18pm | 29/12/12

      I’m embarrassed watching freak shows and turn them off immediately. 

      Maybe my embarrassment is explained by your statement, “Whether they like it or not, Honey Boo Boo and her family are more like the average American (transpose Australian) than most of those attacking them”.  Where is mankind heading??

    • lockstock says:

      04:08pm | 29/12/12

      It’s not so much the show itself that should have detractors from around the States mortified ... it’s the station that airs it. TLC is an acronym for ‘The Learning Channel’. YES, that is correct, The Learning Channel ! Need I say more about that sad state of affairs that is America, in this case, personified by little miss Honey Boo Boo ...

 

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