Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Honey Boo Boo

Depending upon your religious beliefs, the signs of the impending Apocalypse are varied. Some say there are seven signs, and some say ten. There’s also those wonderful harbingers of the Apocalypse, the Four Horsemen; War , Famine, Death, and Pestilence. I’m pretty sure we can now add a Fifth dread rider, and another sign of the Apocalypse: Honey Boo Boo.

I try my best to not watch “reality” television, because, by & large, there’s very little reality involved. Peoples’ real lives are generally too mundane to draw an audience every week, which brings advertising dollars. Thusly, creativity is used by producers and writers to contrive situations guaranteed to draw viewers who are generally just ignorant enough to believe it’s real. Or, like countless others, you watch to see how screwed up other peoples’ lives are and then feel much better about your own life, because they are infinitely more screwed up than you are.

Thus enter the Fifth Rider.

Lo, behold, a Pink Horse, and the name of the Rider was Honey Boo Boo Child.
We can thank the TLC cable network for this train wreck. Ostensibly, TLC stands for The Learning Channel, but lately has become colloquially known as The Freakshow Channel. Sure, we’re learning a few things from their shows on occasion, but by & large their versions of reality are just more & more bizarrely fringe and exploitively sensational.

This was the channel that brought us “19 Kids & Counting”, about the Duggar Family and a mother who treats her uterus as a clown car. They brought is “Sister Wives”, turning fundamentalist Mormon polygamy into mainstream talk show chic. They gave us a trio of tattoo shows in Miami, LA, and NYC, because one can never see too many dramatic tattoo shows. They brought us “Jon & Kate Make 8” and we all watched their marriage crumble after she became a total bitch & he became a walking ad for Ed Hardy gear. Now, in addition to bringing us shows about Amish kids who flee to the real world and endless shows about wedding dresses, they also give us “Abby & Brittany” a show about conjoined twins going to college. Two heads, one body, all the fun in the world.
Nope, not PhotoShopped...and they come across as really well-adjusted, sweet girls.

And then there’s Honey Boo Boo. Lord help us all. This kid, a seven year old named Alana Thompson, is one of those poor unfortunates who are Pageant Kids. I say unfortunate because I think that 99% of the kids who do this are forced into it by parents in some sort of bizarre Munchhausen deal; they weren’t pretty/thin/talented enough to have been in an adult pageant so they shove their kids onstage dressed like mini-hookers to make themselves feel validation.

Paint the kid up like a prosti-tot and she looks a bit like a chubby JonBenet Ramsey, and we all remember how well THAT turned out in the end, don't we?

HBB was the breakout sensation from the show “Toddlers & Tiaras”, and now has her own show of nonsensical dimwittery that seemingly only serves to reinforce a negative stereotype of what people outside the South think of those of us who actually do live in the South. And believe me, as someone who isn't a native Southerner and moved here by choice, I am well aware of what folks think of us down here.

Much was made of the fact that this show garnered a bigger TV audience than the Republican National Convention. The show is rapidly becoming a cottage industry of t-shirts, ringtones, and who knows what else. America loves a good train wreck, and this one is guaranteed to last into a second season before our fickle and deficient attention spans drift toward the next flavor of the day.

Believe it or not there is actually a wide gene pool in this picture.

The show follows Alana and her nicknamed family in their little village of McIntyre, Georgia.. Her mom, June Shannon, is a 33-year old big bundle of, well, June. A bit over 300 pounds, June had all four of her kids, seemingly all by different fathers, before she was 25. She’s shacked up with (but not married to) Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson. He’s 40 and looks 60, with a never-ending supply of chewing tobacco stuffed in his mouth and the ever-present spit bottle in hand. The other three kids are Lauryn, 12, who gets called Pumpkin; Jessica, 15, called Chubbs; and just-turned-18 Anna, known as Chickadee. Incidentally, June is also a grandmother, as Chickadee had a baby of her own in July. Yup, a grandparent at 33. The kids do call June Mama, but always refer to Mike as Sugar, Sugar Bear, or Shugy. The man is never called Mike, or Dad. He is simply a nickname.

Note: Seemingly no info is forthcoming on Lauryn’s father. Some say June’s not even sure who he is. Anna’s father has been in and out of jail, and Jessica’s father did time for sexual exploitation of a child via the Internet making him a registered sex offender. Even Sugar Bear has a record. I sense a theme here. Mom’s been stuck more times than a pincushion & has a penchant for scofflaws. Of course, she has a record, too.

June's mug shot from a few years back....

Taking a cue from History Channel’s hit show “Swamp People”, every episode is subtitled so that people from outside the region can actually follow what’s being said. It's not just the family, either; the employees at the convenience store next to the house are captioned too. After watching a couple seasons, I seldom need the subtitles to follow the Cajun accents on "Swamp People" but I find I actually need the subtitles to make semblance of the mush uttered from the mouths of this family. This is a bit surprising because the town where these folks live is only about 4 hours west of me near Macon, Georgia. These could be the thickest southern accents I have ever encountered, and I live here.

Side Note: They keep referring to the upcoming birth of Chickadee’s baby Kaitlyn as coming out of her
"biscuit" or "moon pie". Can’t say I have ever heard of a vagina referred to as either. Look for Biscuit to become the new Vajayjay for 2012.

Of course, since just being everyday rednecks would lose its shine after a couple episodes, there’s contrived adventures and plots to follow. In an effort to have a gimmick sidekick for HBB at her pageants, the child is given a baby potbelly pig named Glitzy... Seriously. Not a kitten, not a puppy, not a goldfish….a redneck kid gets a tiny pig that screams incessantly when picked up and then craps on the kitchen table.

They send the family to The Redneck Games, a celebration of White Trash Culture and Inbreeding. They send the women folk to get pedicures & spa treatments….bear in mind the condition of the feet on people who generally wander barefoot. The people at the spa were somewhere between disgusted & amused, like most members of polite society they encounter (who need no subtitles). One episode had the family go trash-picking at the town dump (which they called The Department Store), and another highlighted a friend of theirs doing exceedingly dangerous things on his four-wheeler on their way to go mud-bogging. On their anniversary, Sugar & June go out to eat & June is presented with a deer statue (that she could have cared less about) that represented the family’s fondness for eating roadkill deer. 

For entertainment the family will gather as a unit and play “Guess the Breath”, by where one member is blindfolded and forced to guess who just blew their noxious breath into their face. Bear in mind, none of them seems fond of brushing their teeth ever, let alone regularly, and that one of them has a constant wad of chew in his gobbet.

Their idea of “sketty” (Really? Seriously? Is spaghetti that hard to say? Oh, wait; we had to dumb it down to make the show even worse) is to boil noodles, throw several at the wall to test for al dente doneness, add burger, and then make a vile sauce of butter and ketchup rather than opting for Ragu. 

At least one member of the family is flatulent at all times.Seems to be a rule. It seems to be a point of pride. And they are a LOUD family. They shout constantly throughout the house to summon family members rather than just going to get someone in the next room. HBB herself always seems to be shouting in her clips, usually some trademark soundbyte phrase like “You better redneck-ognize!”.

Of course, most of the action surrounds the child, who usually passes as a sweet kid being being used as a meal ticket by her family, and at others she comes across as a bit of an obnoxious center-of-attention-type, spouting mildly inappropriate things like “A dolla makes me holla”, and “I want some mon-ayyyyy”. Maybe because the kid is often hopped up on GoGoJuice, a home made blend of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, given to her to get her hopped up before pageants.

The Apocalypse is Nigh...

Opinion-wise, I’m torn. Part of me says this is a family being exploited for their hick naivete, and part says no one is that white trash and this is all contrived, with them being part & parcel to the hoodwinking of the viewing public. I’m thinking they might just be clever white trash who found a meal ticket and are using it to ride the gravy train till it derails. Rumor has it that the reason June won’t marry Sugar is that if she married him the child support from the other BabyDaddies will stop. Gotta get paid, y’know. Sources say they got between $20,000 and $40,000 to do the first season of ten shows, and now they want $10,000 per episode for season two. And they'll get it, too. I bet this show will draw more viewers than Idol this year.

BREAKING NEWS: Sugar Bear was in an ATV accident whilst mud bogging and his leg wound was so infected it was almost amputated. Today we learned he will not lose the leg. And in further developments, we have learned that the grandchild, Anna/Chickadee’s daughter Kaitlyn, was born with an extra thumb on one hand. Seriously. I wouldn't make this up.


jay son said...

moonpie? i've heard money maker and muffin, never moonpie. and here i went and got a new phone cause i was having trouble understanding you, when all along it was just your affectation of the pink eye speech patterns around you!!

Brooke said...

No way, you're making all of this shit up.

I'm going to keep on telling myself that, because the 'reality' is too hard to accept.

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

No, the show is even worse then I portray.....there was not enough time or space to adequately describe this Titanic-scale Hindenburg crash....Oh, the humanity....