Last week I was doing my usual "it's late and I'm bored" scroll through my Yahoo! "news" feed (all the information that you don't need about people you don't know doing questionable things) and I came across this brief article about Honey Boo-Boo's appearance on a recent Jimmy Fallon episode. It basically called Honey out for her rude behavior on-set, praised Jimmy for dealing with it as best as possible, and chided Honey's Momma for not only allowing her child's poor behavior but egging her on.
I won't get into a parenting debate because 1) I'm not a parent and 2) holy cow am I not a parent, but what got to me most was the comments at the end of the article. Now, it was a Yahoo! article so it wasn't like I was expecting thoroughly articulated commentaries on parenting and socializing issues in modern first-world countries. However, the speed at which the name-calling progressed (fat slob, hicks, rednecks, idiots, etc) was sad.
I will be the first to admit that I do not find their television show entertaining. I will also be the first to admit that I do turn in to several other TLC shows like 19 Kids and Counting, Sister Wives and The Little Couple. These shows challenge me. They open up my horizons and force me to confront the question: how different am I from you, really? They give me insights into different points of view and challenge me on long-held, seldom examined beliefs that I hold to be true.
Shows like Honey Boo-Boo and the various Gypsy Wedding/Sisters shows don't particularly interest me, but for me to say that the characters (and that's what they are; unlike the other shows who are just trying to say "I'm no different from you", shows like this are very much putting on an act) are vapid, idiots, fat, slobs, stupid, etc is completely ignoring one simple fact: they are human beings.
You have every right in the world to find their TV show uninteresting. You can even have an extreme hatred towards it (although, if you feel that strongly about a family who enjoys farting together you probably need to examine yourself more than them. Because why are you getting so worked up about a TV SHOW?), but really do you have any right to judge or name call or otherwise demean other human beings? Who do you think you are?
When you get right down to it, these shows are challenging us every bit as much as the tamer ones like The Little Couple. Instead of gently saying "I may be different but I have the same needs and desires as anyone else", these shows say "LOOK AT ME! I'm different than you. Don't like it? You can go fuck yourself!"
And you know what? They're absolutely right. If we don't like how they are living their life (or making us think that is how they live) then we can change the channel. All the petty name-calling does is put on display the parts of ourselves that we fear most. Am I cheap, poor, fat, and/or stupid too? It completely misses what is underneath: an unconditional devotion to and love of family.
So yes, maybe if I had a daughter Honey Boo-Boo's age I would make different parenting choices. But in the end, we are all people on our own journey. Just because I don't broadcast my farts to the world does not make me any better than anyone else. How you choose to take joy in your life, how you choose to live your life is just that, your choice. If I ever hope to receive compassion from others regarding my choices, I must first have compassion for others and their choices.
And hey. Everybody farts.
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