The other day, the television was tuned to TLC — The Learning Channel — and there was a godforsaken “Best Of” show about “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” playing and, in the five minutes it took me to recover from what I was watching and actually change the channel, I was dismayed to learn just how far we’ve sunk in our cultural values. How did Honey Boo Boo become a hit? The reality show isn’t really even about Honey Boo Boo. The show is about her obnoxious family, and her grotesque mother, who loves to regale us with farts and burps and detailed reports on other bodily functions.
If we have ever doubted the downfall of American Cultural Values, sixty seconds with Honey Boo Boo will convince you we are in an unrepentant spiral where only the worst of us, in us, is celebrated on cable television and, the sad thing about it all, is that Honey Boo Boo and her family — like swine in slop — love the negative attention for their redneck, dysfunctional lifestyle. They adore that they’re hated. They thrill in the idea that their tepid show is popular, not because they are great, or even good people, but because they are all perpetual losers who others can watch with a great Schadenfreude that, “No matter how much my life sucks, I’m not as horrible as those turds.”
The shame of Honey Boo Boo is there is no sense of shame — and that is a sad and sorry commentary, not just on them, but on those who watch them and wonder why.
We have always had cultural controls in place to move the meter of aesthetic expectation from trash to hopeless to hopeful, but those social cudgels are dwindling. With the rise of the entertainment mediaplex — no mainstream reviewer dares to give a negative review to anything, or they risk getting a vicious whipping back via orchestrated backdoor social media memes — and so the job of crushing the trash fell to media outsiders like Regretsy and Vote for the Worst – both are sadly wrapping up shop this year — to spread the mocking that Glue Guns make Great Art and that American Idol is actually a Singing Competition.
When you lose the human risk tenders, you tend to lose control of taste. When everything becomes qualified for airing on television, intellect declines, and worthiness is deemed as unimportant as the Honey Boo Boo juicy sneeze-belch and the chronic inability to reduce “vajiggle.” If you don’t know what “vajiggle” is — then you are certainly luckier than I was as the world of Honey Boo Boo crashed and conquered any sense of human sensibility — and there’s nowhere I can go to escape the flatulent “crop dusting” definition that accompanies the rotting corpus.