Thursday, May 17, 2007
Among the other utterly remarkable excuses for television shows that make up the networks’ Fall lineups (including the show where people pretend to be pirates) there’s a show which is bound to be about as horrifying as it is genius and telling. Well, telling these days more or less constantly equals horrifying but we can go into more detail on that in every other post on this site.
Anyway – so, the basic premise of one of the most interesting shows, Kid Nation, is that you get 40 kids ages 8 to 15 trying to build a town out of Bonanza City, N.M., an old ghost town. No parents allowed for 40 days (that’s technically a day per kid – so just like with the lottery, you could technically tune in each day to see a different kid get victimized and it would never get old) and you watch and see how it plays out.
The amazing thing about this kind of concept is that there have been a couple of other similar experiments already filmed and broadcast in England that actually show what happens when you do that and every time, it’s more or less the same. Two English documentaries, named Boys Alone and Girls Alone were done based on gender though, so you had one with a house full of ten year old boys and then the other was a house with ten year old girls.
The footage of the boys became a frighteningly accurate re-enactment of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies happening in real life while footage of the girls showed a more or less similar dynamic but far more reliant on emotional attacks than physical one. Plus, there was one girl who simply refused to join in and decided to leave because she thought it was appalling how things were playing out which was kind of to her credit really. Kid Nation appears to have girls and boys together which will bring sex into it - thank god, because what would we do without under aged sex allusions on network TV?
On a basic level this show could be almost educational as it’s probably less likely that adults will be able to watch children act out the same basic things they would – reveal the same prejudices, the same animalistic tendencies – and not feel at least partially responsible. Unlike with shows like Survivor where you don't have to feel weird for the contestants because they're adults and probably stupid ones too. Unless I’m grossly underestimating the decency of adults in America – and frankly, if I am then that’s remarkable and outrageously telling on a whole other level.
While this show could be utterly remarkable in a sociological sense, the chances are that seeing as it’s being produced in America, most of the contestants will be pushed into it by viscous, Dina Lohan type show parents who have forced them, since the age of three to learn eight types of dance and who have shunned school for a vocal and acting coach. They’ll all have the typical blinding white teeth, relentless depression hiding smile, fear based ambitious and desperate axe to grind. It’ll just be 40 kids with the same 15 year plan that involves getting their own talk show at 23. Curse you Elizabeth Hasselbeck for beating a clear path from crap TV to highly paid opinion/talk gig. Look what you did to a reality TV show that could have been really really disturbing in a really healthy way. For even more reasons than usual, Elizabeth Hasselbeck deserves our scorn [source]