Honey Boo Boo: Entertainment or Exploitation?

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TLC needs a new name. Why? Well...‘The Learning Channel’ does not seem a fitting title for the show ‘Here comes Honey Boo Boo’. For the uninitiated, Honey Boo Boo is Alana Thompson, a 6-year-old white girl living in rural Georgia and competing in beauty pageants, who puts on the mannerisms of the stereotypical urban black woman. The Learning Channel introduced Alana to its Toddlers & Tiaras’ viewers in January, and they quickly became fond of the reality TV star. Honey Boo Boo, still only a child, is motivated by money: “A dolla makes me holla.” She’s competitive: “They must be crazy if they think they are going to beat me Miss Honey Boo Boo, child.” She’s confident: “I’m all that and a pack of crackers, okay.” We’ve all heard these phrases before and either felt ashamed of mankind or laughed because we cannot comprehend the ridiculousness of this situation. Although it is wonderful to see the young become confident and stand up in front of audiences, it is shocking to see how they are smothered in makeup and taught to act in a certain manner that is in no way their own personality. Alana has borrowed her attitude, mannerisms, and language from urban black women. She might as well place her hand on her hip and crane her neck while she delivers her lines and perpetuates the stereotype of the sassy, uneducated black woman. Yes, it is true that children do often say the ‘darnedest things’. Sometimes it’s cute and even funny. Not in this case. Consciously or unconsciously, Honey Boo Boo gives 2.2 million viewers a safe and acceptable way to judge urban culture, poor people, and Southerners. On top of that, she competes in beauty pageants, where she and other girls are sexualized as women, wearing more make up than clowns and wearing clothes similar to those on ‘Bay Watch’ Each week, viewers see the antics of a little girl who has a pet pig named, Glitzy; her stay-at-home, overly obese, coupon-hunting mother, June; chalk-mining dad, Sugar Bear; and her three...
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