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No, I will not redneck-ognize

August 19, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

If it wasn't for SyFy, USA Network, the History Channel and a few programs on the major networks, I probably wouldn't watch that much television.

There are very few shows, in fact, that seem to be able to grab onto my attention these days, so more often than not I?find myself watching reruns of the programs I do enjoy.

For me, part of that problem has been the vast amount of so-called "reality" programming streaming across our airwaves these days.

I might check in on the occasional contest show like "Dancing with the Stars," or the latest singing competition or whatever, but I long ago got bored of the "shove people in a house and film their lives" kind of TV.

I know it's less expensive to produce than traditional scripted shows, but at the same time it seems like these days networks will put just about anything on in the hope of striking it rich with the next big money-making family or group of 20-somethings.

The trend, of course, started back during my own teenage years with shows like "The Real World" on MTV. It kicked off the downfall of Music Television as my generation had known it, and its popularity spawned probably hundreds of copycats ever since.

Most people these days think MTV should probably change its name because the majority of its programming now includes these shows and very little music. It makes sense.

If they ever would make that change, there's another network I think should follow suit: TLC.

I actually used to watch a lot of TLC, you know back when it's programming schedule was full of educational and home improvement shows.

Back then, it was still usually known as The Learning Channel and you actually did learn something from it, even if it was a reality show. Back then, with things like "Trading Spaces," you could actually pick up a few tips for various home projects while still being entertained.

Today it is better known as the home of "Toddlers and Tiaras," "Say Yes to the Dress" and other shows of their ilk. It also previously was the channel everyone tuned into to watch the escapades of our favorite dysfunctional parents and their eight kids.

Its latest offering is "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," a spin-off of sorts as it features a little girl first seen on "Toddlers and Tiaras," where her mom filled her up with sugary drinks and let her run loose right before a pageant.

Now this new show follows Honey Boo Boo (a nickname, I'm hoping) and her family from Georgia as they live their lives going to mudbogs and playing with farm animals. At least that's what I've gotten out of the couple promotional commercials and articles I've browsed through as I refuse to watch an actual episode.

Basically, the promotional material has painted the family as the stereotypical rednecks West Virginia often is associated with, right down to running around without any shoes.

The catch-phrase you might ask? "You'd better redneck-ognize."

No, thank you. I think I'll read a book instead of watching a program designed simply to boost the ratings of a network which used to have quality programming while exploiting the lives of some family while promising them fame and fortune that will not turn out as they hoped.

I actually kind of feel bad for the little girl, because she probably has no say in the matter, and yet here she is with what is being labeled as her show.

You have to wonder what she'll think in 10 or 20 years when she looks back at some of these shows. That is, of course, assuming her life doesn't fall into a downward spiral like those of so many others involved in these programs.

I'm sure she would have been perfectly content hanging around her big redneck family, playing with her pig and jumping around in mudholes while participating in the occasional children's beauty pageant, and without all the cameras following her around like some kind of science experiment.

Hopefully, one of these days, the network executives start to look around and think about whether this kind of show is actually worth it in the long run.

It may line their pockets now, and even give some of us some entertainment, but we also must remember that for every Snooki, J-Woww or Paulie D there is a Jon and Kate or a Bristol Palin.

Now, where's that new book.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

 
 

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