For the uninitiated, Honey Boo Boo is Alana Thompson, a 6-year-old white girl, who talks like some black women, lives in rural Georgia and competes in beauty pageants.

In other words, she is a stereotype.

The Learning Channel introduced Honey Boo Boo to its Toddlers & Tiaras’ viewers in January, and they quickly became fond of the reality TV star. Honey Boo Boo 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 heard this before. Honey Boo Boo has borrowed her attitude, mannerisms, and language from urban black women. She might as well put 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, children 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.

Each week, viewers see the antics of a little girl who has a pet pig named, Glitzy; her stay-at-home mom, June; chalk-mining dad, Sugar Bear; and her three sisters, one of whom is pregnant.

While on the surface the show may be amusing, it’s also disturbing. Exploiting children is not entertainment, and making fun of people even when they seem to be in on the joke shouldn’t be entertaining.

Is this what we really want for the next generation? Do we want them to become reality TV stars before they can effectively read and write? Do we want our children to dream of having their own reality show?

I don’t want that for my daughters. They don’t deserve such a harsh light shone on them at such a young age.

If all of this reality television had a larger point, say, of teaching us something incredible about ourselves, or sending Honey Boo Boo to college in a dozen years, perhaps it would be tolerable. But the producers of reality television shows are bent on making inexpensive shows so that we can make fun of its characters.

Let’s draw the line at our children. Let’s protect them from exploitation and being used to perpetuate stereotypes, especially when we don’t fully know what the long-term effects will be.

4 thoughts to “A Honey Boo Boo Rant

  • Justin Barrett

    Well said. I hadn’t heard of Honey Boo Boo until just recently and watched a show (or tried to. I couldn’t get through the entire thing). This fascination we have for making fun of people who are different or not like us is getting out of control. And Honey Boo Boo herself is not a likable little girl. It’s not her fault, but why laud that? I hadn’t thought about the stereotype angle, but you nailed it. So true.
    Anyway, it needed to be said and I’m glad you said it.

  • Melissa

    Let’s face it.  This family is out to cash in on their kid, just like the Gosselins (“Jon & Kate Plus 8”), the Duggar Family (“Nineteen Kids and Counting”) and just about all the “reality” shows on TLC, including Bristol Palin’s, where her three-year-old son, Tripp, called his Aunt Willow a f****t.  (I refuse to write out the whole word.)  These people are going to need to the money to pay for their kids’ psychotherapy and/or substance abuse rehab in the future. 

    • Honeysmoke

      Okay, I admit I had to use Google to figure out what Tripp had called his aunt. My goodness. I don’t watch these shows. Maybe they aren’t big with parents. I mean, I’ve got enough drama in my own home and don’t find other people’s family drama all that entertaining. I take that back. I love Parenthood, but it’s well-written.

  • Vielle Ross

    I haven’t watched an episode but when I saw the first promos for it on TV, I thought the little girl was acting like a stereotypical black woman.  When did ‘rednecks’ start neck rolling?   I think the family see it as an opportunity for some money and don’t mind being exploited….I’m sure they are very aware of it. 

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