Sunday, October 28, 2012

That's Not Entertainment

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel should be ashamed of themselves.

Apparently, at their wedding, a friend gifted them with an "inside joke" video of homeless and transgender people wishing them well, under the guise of being "friends" who "couldn't make it"to the couple's lavish nuptials. Timberlake later apologized for the video, and he should have. It was in poor taste. It made light of the lack of money, education, and health care many Americans deal with every day. It harshly delineated the differences between the "haves," the "have nots," and the "have even mores." Really, who partakes in that kind of "entertainment?" 

I mean, other than millions of Americans every day. 

No, I am not saying that most Americans bring home a homeless person to make fun of as they throw pennies. Maybe the Trumps, but not most Americans. However, I know that at least three million Americans are indulging in something similar: "Here comes Honey Boo, Boo." Oh, and that doesn't count the ones that don't watch the show, but still mock her and her family on various websites. 

I know, you're saying "this is sooo not the same thing." Isn't it? No, the viewers and their friends didn't go to Honey Boo Boo's house and film her and her family. They left that to the "professionals" at TLC.  However, they are still tuning in to watch them and laugh at their "antics" so they can feel better about themselves. You know, their antics that include a lack of education, money, and health care. Their antics that would make them not welcome at the tables of their viewers, or a Hollywood wedding. Their antics that make it somehow "acceptable" for grown adults to go as a 7-year old girl for Halloween. 

She's a kid. Not a punchline. 
Now you're saying "but they're being paid." Okay. Great. So, you can laugh at someone if you give them some cash? Because money is more important than dignity? Than humanity? If that is the argument being made then we are on a very slippery slope as a society. 

Maybe we are already going down that slope. After all, while "Honey Boo Boo" is the most visible example, there are plenty of other programs centered on laughing at the protagonists: "Hillbilly Handfishing," "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding." Pretty much if it's on TLC or the "History" channel, it's one of the genre. 

How can we, as a society, be so anti-bullying, and yet let our "entertainment" choices be programmed with little other than bullying. Are we saying that if a bully throws a kid a buck and says it was a "god show" after calling him "fag," it's okay? I know that sounds extreme, but is it really far off? 

Or should we all be ashamed of ourselves? 

16 comments:

Jill VT said...

So, so agree. The coarseness of popular culture is at times breathtaking.

Cindy said...

Agreed

Melinda said...

Agreed. Don't get me started on Jersey Shore.

Jen said...

This is one of the reasons it doesn't exactly bother me that I gave up television (except for a smidge of news or PBS Kids now and again) a few years ago. I am completely out of the loop at what it happening with shows like this. Ignorance can be bliss, indeed.

Summer B said...

That's a very good point. I had not thought of it like that, but it is a form of bullying. About the time Honey Boo Boo came on air, I decided to cut nearly all reality tv out of my dvr. A good friend of mine calls reality tv - the slow destruction of our society. The more shocking, sad, pathetic, dysfunctional,ridiculous, or outlandish-- the better the ratings. There's no empathy in those ratings, just entertainment.

harriet glynn said...

I want to say that as a Canadian, I find this programming shocking (and take my higher moral ground birthright) but Canadians lap it up. I fail to comprehend.

makingmonkeysoup.com said...

I lost the flavor for all reality TV while watching the Gosslin family disintegrate on National TV.

Taking regular people and turning them into pseudo celebrities ruins them. I don't think they can even see that it has happened to them.

mdenison said...

I completely understand where you're coming from, and I see where these two are comparable. But personally, I love the show...and I'm not going to be ashamed to exclaim it to the world. Do I sit there and laugh at them because their house is smaller than mine? No.
Do I make fun of them because we live differently? No. I watch it because I genuinely think it's good entertainment. that girl would be funny if she was raised the way she was, or any other way.
Is it the most high quality entertainment? Probably not.

If you're watching the show to uplift yourself, or to find a scapegoat for your snooty comments, then yes, it's bullying.

But personally, their family made the choice to be on the show. Nobody forced them to be on tv. they signed an agreement just like everyone else did. Dont get me wrong, that's not an approval to be made fun of. But in a way, you cant blame EVERYONE for their choices.

Riot Kitty said...

I don't understand the appeal, at all.

She Said said...

Very well stated, Libby. Agreed.

missohkay said...

Word. This is pretty much equivalent to Idiocracy's "Ouch My Balls!"

Kelley said...

You made some great points. I feel convicted!

Phil said...

I don't think we should all be ashamed of ourselves. Isn't blogging the same type of exhibitionism that many of the subjects of these "reality" shows are taking part in? We bare ourselves to the world for a little attention and ego stroking. I'm sure Honey Boo Boo and her family are laughing all the way to the bank. If I don't approve of a shows moral content I don't watch it. Now Jessica and Justin Timberlakes friend should spend some community service time working at a homeless shelter to develop a little empathy.

LL Cool Joe said...

I haven't watched tv for years now. Let's face it shows like the X Factor etc. are just the same. People find great pleasure laughing at the contestants that can't sing or don't look good, or don't tick all the right boxes.

Rassles said...

See, I understand what you mean, and I agree on the Biel/Timberlake thing.

But Honey Boo-boo...no. That family knew what they were getting into. If this show premiered at the dawn of reality TV, it would be different, but these people were and are immersed in the reality TV culture already.

And then where do we draw the line? Does this then extend to fiction? What about The Jerk or Dumb and Dumber (I actually really can't stand Dumb&D, but you get my meaning) or Trailer Park Boys?

KellyDove said...

I'm just a little late commenting on this. :)

At a children's Halloween event, someone had dressed their toddler as a homeless person, complete with shopping cart. And, I seemed to be the only one who was horrified. Total strangers wanted to take photos of this kid. So sad.