My old man writes letters to the head of programming at TLC to protest Toddlers and Tiaras as a form of child abuse, so I thought I’d send him a Honey Boo Boo update. In case you’re in need of one, the short version is that Honey Boo Boo’s mother, Mama June (June Shannon), is suspected of re-starting a relationship with a convicted child molester who molested her daughter Anna when Anna was 8. (Anna is now 20). While I was looking for a good overview of the shituation (best one I found here), I ran across a New Republic article by Sarah Marshall. Marshall thinks that the Honey Boo Boo franchise should be resurrected as some kind of moral tale about the trials and tribulations of being poor:
In the show’s new incarnation, TLC could present June Shannon not as a joke or a villain, but as a woman who became a mother long before she had the emotional or financial resources to raise a child, and who has enabled harm to befall her daughters not because she is evil, but because of her limitations. They can expose the layers of fear and self-loathing and codependence that can lead a woman to privilege her relationship with a man above her children’s safety. They can look deeper at the vulnerability that lives beneath June and her family’s brazen exteriors: at June’s legal blindness and disabling cataracts, at Anna and Lauryn’s history of abuse, and at the real little girl who lives somewhere within the “Honey Boo Boo” of gif sets and T-shirts, underneath the mop of ringlets and behind the set of quips and catchphrases that seem just a little too epigrammatically profane to have been cooked up on the spot by a six-year-old.
Maybe I’m not made of the right kind of liberal stuff, but this strikes me as one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard. It’s also grossly condescending to the vast majority of poor people who deal with many of the same issues as Mama June yet keep their children away from child molesters. But perhaps I’m judging too harshly and there’s a place for Mama June Shannon as the vehicle by which a television program, presumably produced by PBS, would raise awareness of the plight of poor mothers.
No liberal is. That’s the essence of liberalism.
Jesus titty fukin christ on a stick. Talk about trolling the backwaters looking for the most unimportant inconsequential uninteresting things to write about.
Stick to your “The probe has landed on a comet, mission accomplished….Sarah Palin is running for Prez I guarantee it” type posts.
Didn’t care about that show then. Don’t care what those people are doing now.
Seems to me that idea for a new show would not be that different from a show about people who don’t have the capacity to understand that voting Republican is voting against their own self interests.
I’ve never seen this TV show, which is perhaps something to be glad about. And I think you are right: exhibiting Mama June and her brood as objects of public pity and moralising doesn’t seem a worthwhile improvement on a show that exhibited them as caricatures to be mocked.
One thing’s for sure, if they focused a reprisal of the show on the assaults and rapes, it will be hugely popular with the miscreants of the world, and not just those who commit similar crimes, but those who fantasize about it. It’ll be like fuel on the fire for these souls.
I work in child protection and this is a pretty common story. Women expose their kids to sex abuse for a variety of reasons, some financial, some cultural. Many women were sexually abused as kids and in a sick way come to think of this as normal. I hear about women who suggest placement of their kids with relatives who sexually abused them, and they are getting no financial benefit. Some families really just sweep it under the rug, live in denial, and the sex abuse goes on within the generations. It is not just women, my friend was sexually abused by his grandfather and his dad is the one who refused to acknowledge it and kept letting his father hang around with all his kids.
I think Marshall is correct. Junes actions as you describe remind me of a woman I know. She’d married not too long after graduating high school to the father of the daughter she would have about two months later. He was an engineer, and sometime around their 16th year of marriage, he decided to divorce her. After the divorce, she went for the first man who would have her, who promised her she could have anything she wanted, as long as she’d put his name on the house she got out of the divorce, and bought him a new phone, all of which she did. After finally dumping him a couple of years later, it looks like declaring bankruptcy is the only way she’s going to get out from the debt she allowed him to get her into.
There are some people, like June, who just cannot see very far into the future, or very far into the past.
Mike in NC
The people responsible for what appears on TLC need to be taken out into a field and shot.
What I found fascinating about this family is when I found out the mother had her four kids with four (or maybe three, from the OP link) different men, because if this was any non-white family they would not have been considered “comic relief” (which is tragic, in its own right), but would be condemned as evidence of the moral failings of the entire group.
There seems to be a strain in white culture where you look at something as “other” and think, “I may have problems, but at least I ain’t that fucked up” and for a lot of whites the proverbial “redneck white trash” folks also fit the bill.
Hopefully the family did (does) not blow through the TLC money too quickly.
Lisa Simpson: “Don’t worry, Mom, it’s The Learning Channel! I’m hardly learning at all!” Kind of like The Discovery Channel or The History Channel.
The biggest question I’d have, is why does Marshall think a single person would take such a premise/show seriously after all these years of this family being put on display for “our” “entertainment”?
I just don’t think there’d be any credibility there, and thus, it’d be an exercise in futility at best, and just a new form of exploitation at worst.
No. Considering she’s now saying that one of the children were fathered by another pedophile, we need to back the fuck away from this family, alert CPS and forget this sad shit ever happened.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Bobby B.: I remember when Bravo used to show operas. /Jack Donaghy
Roadkill for looky-loos.
Family needs an intervention, not the spotlight.
I find this whole thing horrifying and terribly sad. But then, I have felt that way about it since it began. It’s just more horrifying and sad than I ever knew. Those children should be taken away from this awful woman. She has no excuse. I know plenty of women who became mothers too soon and who were and continue to be poor. None of them would put their children in this kind of peril. She disgusts me. And don’t get me started on TLC. I used to just love What Not to Wear. You couldn’t pay me to watch the dreck they air now.
A shockingly large number of people seem to have no idea how generational poverty works, except possibly in hazy abstract. And this shit will not change until a majority of voters get it. Indeed, you could argue that the only reason we made major leaps in the early part of the 20th century was that a majority of voters did get it, because they lived it, saw it in their neighbors, or watch their relatives suffer from it.
I would love to see a well-made, compassionate documentary on the Honey Boo Boo family. It could do a world of good.
Sarah Marshall sounds like a nice person, but no one watching those shows are interested in anyone acting in good faith guided by all the right principles. People who watch those shows like to point and laugh to feel better about themselves. There already is a show like Sarah Marshall describes – it’s Supernanny with Jo Frost. She doesn’t fix sexual abuse, but she shows highly dysfunctional families and how they can heal themselves.
@ruemara: No. Considering she’s now saying that one of the children were fathered by another pedophile, we need to back the fuck away from this family, alert CPS and forget this sad shit ever happened.
Forgetting what happened is part of what lets this cycle continue. If they were good enough to look at for entertainment, they should be good enough to look at with compassion. CPS can pull children out of homes and put them in other homes, but ending the cycle of poverty is beyond their remit.
Anyone see Bill Mahr interview with Linda Tirado the other week? Tirado has written a book “Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America” after her blog answer “Poverty Thoughts” to the question “Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive?” went viral. She intrigued me enough to read her blog essay and her book which I read in one afternoon. She is wryly funny and acerbically honest about living working poor for so many years.
A strain in white culture? Shit, it’s a central tenet of white culture.
Or to trot out Davis X. Machina’s immortal aphorism once again:
@300baud: I think you’re right. A compassionate look at the that encouraged viewers to empathize and really understand the limitations they face could be really helpful, if it was done well. This woman strikes me to be really horrible for putting her desire for love ahead of her kids’ safety, but maybe she’s doing it because she’s broke, and this is what she thinks is the only way to provide for them? For those people who say, “If you don’t like your low-paying job at Walmart, you should quit, get an education, and become a CEO!’, it might actually be educational to understand the world in which people like this really live.
I wouldn’t hold my breath: like it or not, a central fact of American culture is that “not getting it” (and its inevitable corollary, not wanting to “get it”) about poverty issues is a fundamental principle of our entire political and social organization. Mainly because acknowledging that generational poverty has some basic underlying cause other that personal moral failings, (or “God’s [lack of] Grace”) might actually lead to society as a whole having to do something about it: which, of course, means the Dreaded Horrific Evil of – *gasp” – Socialism!! Or its other Abomination incarnation – “redistributionism” – or worse, more taxes…..
It’s the classic American attitude towards dealing with any perceived social problem: we’re usually all for any solution to them – as long as it doesn’t actually have to cost anyone any money.
“The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”
truer words were never spoken. honey boo-boo (et alia) is merely another opportunity to feel superior to someone else by hauling them down rather than pulling them up so we can all feel better.
But Its also interesting to consider the way we think about child abuse in this country (or in Honey Boo Boo’s case) as primarily a poor-women’s issue when right now in the UK they are undergoing an enormous social upheaval over the realization that for decades upper class/celebrity men abused children of both sexes with impunity. There’s tons of sexualization of children and abuse of children which doesn’t happen in a family context but like drug addiction and other social ills we tend to “see” it and deal with it primarily when it is happening in poor families where social services can be called and/or where people get imprisoned for behaviors that in the upper classes people get therapy for.
@Mike in NC: Agree completely. The same fate should befall their peers at A&E and Bravo. Also, the fake History Channel and other purveyors of fake reality crap.
@Lolis: Yes, exactly.
As long as men have more financial power in society… as long as women cannot take care of themselves as much as they would like… as long as the victims of sexual abuse are told it’s “their fault” … this rotten situation will perpetuate itself.
My mother first got wind of the devil’s bargain she made when my new stepfather insisted the door be taken off my room because of my recent “misbehavior.” (I was late coming home from the local library.) I don’t know what she did to keep him out of my room: but she did something and I’m forever grateful that my fear of him was kept possible and not actual.
A few years later he was gone.
@Gene108: After writing white people are the same horrible as the blahs, you then must go on to state the blahs are 50% responsible for the horrible, while only comprising 15% of the populations. White problem solved!
@Lolis: Yes. This. I work with a woman who continued “dating” a man who had tried to molest her 16-year-old daughter … I could NOT believe it. And, yes, the woman was molested herself when she was a child. I actually think Sarah Marshall had a good idea – because there are a LOT of working class women out there who live these kinds of dysfunctional lives, and NO ONE tells them it’s not normal, or it’s weird to let your 17-year-old daughter sleep in the same bed with you and your husband (!!).
@evodevo: I remember watching some long, horrible, child abuse case on Court TV when it was first a thing you could watch. The relatives of the child who had been abused by another family member were completely unselfconscious about what they thought was “normal” and protested on the stand during testimony that they did not consider the molestation to be “real” rape or any kind of a problem worth complaining about at all–and this was a horrific case of abuse. I had nightmares about it for years.
We are kidding ourselves if we think that, for some subset of families in this country, there is any standard worth defending of “right” behavior when it comes to children and sexual abuse. This has nothing to do with race or class–people who are accustomed to being abused exist at all levels of society and when they fall into the hands of another abuser as co-parent to children they just don’t have a good compass to guide them in fighting back, or they are disabled from fighting back by the disbelief of outsiders, or financial considerations, or fear.
THANK YOU. The thing I find absurd about the Sarah Marshall piece is the idea that child molestation, and turning a blind eye to it, is somehow peculiar to poor people. That’s someone who evidently knows jack shit about how sexual abuse works.
Paul in KY
Mama June, etc. are not poor at present time. In a year, though…