Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Won't someone please think of the children?

I've mainly stayed out of the fray of all the controversy over CBS' "Kid Nation," mainly because I've seen too many reality show producers get burned at the stake before anyone gets to see the shows in question. More often than not (usually when Fox is involved), the finished product turns out to be far less scandalous than all the doomsayers have been predicting. I remember the kerfuffle over UPN's "Amish in the City," for instance, where everyone assumed it would be mocking the Amish kids -- only the actual show depicted the Amish kids favorably while making the city kids look like your typical batch of reality show tools. "Kid Nation" could turn out to be a blight on society, but I want to, you know, see it first before I get out the pitchforks.

James Poniewozik from Time has a good blog entry up in which he discusses previous cases of misdirected hysteria like "Amish in the City," but also wonders why this one show is being targeted when there are so many other kiddie reality shows out there:
Kids competed in American Juniors--a much more competitive show than Kid Nation appears to be--and America's Got Talent, and Discovery Kids' Endurance has sent children on a Survivor-style competition (again, in contrast to Kid Nation's communitarian, work-together premise) for several seasons, without public outcry. Kid Nation doesn't even have a voting-off competition. Children get eliminated more painfully on national TV at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
It's a good read.


Daniel said...

The major difference between the shows James references as previous examples of "Reality TV's Nadir" and "Kid Nation" is that The WB used sensationalism as the selling point for both "Amish and the City" and "Beauty & the Geek." The shows were named and promoted with the eplicit purpose of prompting exactly the level of preliminary eye-rolling and teeth-gnashing they received.

CBS has never promoted "Kid Nation" in a sensationalistic way. They haven't begun airing advertisements saying "See what all of the controversy was about!" Either they're genuinely surprised at the negative buzz the show has generated or they recognize that the whiff of sensationalism involving children is a touchier issue than sensationalism involving nerds or Mennonites.

Ultimately, "Kid Nation" will probably turn out to be boringly wholesome and people will tune in the first week for the buzz and then decide they just don't much care...


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