Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kid Nation

After all of the controversy and finger pointing, Kid Nation is just another “reality” show. It’s Survivor in an Old West ghost town with a cast of 40 kids (8-15 years old), no tribal councils, and no million-buck prize at the end (though each week one of the campers will be given a literal gold star worth $20,000.) It’s Survivor with a more emotionally mature cast :-)

The thing about the kids building a new society alone is, of course, nonsense. They’re surrounded by an army of cameramen, sound men, producers, medics, technicians, etc., etc. (and that’s not to mention the host who shows up several times an hour) That aside, the show is mildly engaging (the kids often seem like they’re vamping for the camera but that’s to be expected…and when one little miss says in all earnestness that she doesn’t do dishes because she’s a “beauty queen” you wonder how many of these “ordinary” kids are looking towards a career in showbiz with this show as a stepping stone.)

The editing of the show will not show any danger or exploitation, of course…the kids seem to be having an adventure that is at turns fun, challenging, and instructive on the matter of social interaction (one boy, the youngest of the group, opts out at the end due to homesickness…a very understandable reaction, of course.)

It’s not, as some have opined, Lord of the Flies, it’s just a “reality” show whose purpose escapes me.

I was wondering if CBS was going to put Kid Nation on after the firestorm of protests but they did (“controversy” makes for great pre-broadcast advertising) and the end result seems hardly worth all of the sanctimonious hand-wringing. Any ire about the inappropriateness of putting children in a potentially dangerous situation…apparently a couple of the kids got hurt during the filming of the series but not, insofar as I’ve heard, really seriously hurt…should be directed not only at the producers and the network but also…and especially… at the 40 sets of parents who signed the onerous contracts required for participation and gave their children over to the tender mercies of “reality” TV stardom.

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