Uncouth family of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” challenges social norms

September 7, 2012 4:30 PM 0 comments Views: 534

Contributing Writer

Alana Thompson, star of TLC’s spin-off “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” relaxes on her family’s porch. Photo courtesy of TLC.

Although countless TV cooking shows have made me salivate for smell-o-vision, after watching TLC’s new controversial show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” I have changed my tune.

One of the self-declared redneck Thompson family’s favorite habits is farting loudly, frequently and proudly, and I’m glad my nose remains an inactive viewer.

Even in the opening credits, the first sound is a loud fart emitted by mom June “Mama,” followed by (presumably) scripted “Ew, Mama,” and laughter. Yes, farting is funny.But now that an eccentric, overweight, shameless family of mostly females gives a little toot toot on TV, viewers either laugh in the safety of their own home or, outraged, argue that the end of civilization must be near.

After all, a lady never farts, right?

Star Alana Thompson, now age seven, is fresh off “Toddlers and Tiaras,” another controversial TLC show documenting the lives of child “glitz” pageants with fake tans, fake nails and heavy makeup.

Her famous tagline, “A dolla makes me holla honey boo boo,” (for a momentary laugh, search it on YouTube) catapulted her and her family into the reality TV business. We know the entire family by their nicknames:dad Mike “Sugar Bear,” and sisters Anna “Chickadee” (17), Jessica “Chubbs” (15), and Lauryn “Pumpkin” (12). “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is quite the opposite of the glamorous pageant stage.

Instead the show follows the family as they take care of their teacup pig Glitzy, belly-flop into a pit of mud, eat cheese puffs off the floor, expose their stomachs and mash them around to turn their belly buttons into a pseudo-mouth.
And, of course, participate in the Redneck Olympics. The females talk a lot about their weight, but in ways that feel different than what we have seen on TV before.

Take, for instance, one of my favorite fart-centered moments, when Chubbs comes up with a new weight loss plan.
“My mother has told me in the past that if you fart 12-15 times a day you can lose a little weight,” she says. “So I think I’ll lose a lot of weight because I’m going to fart a lot.”

If beans start flying off the shelves, we’ll know why.

Ridiculous, right? Maybe, but it is part of what draws viewers in. One of my housemates, a fellow “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” viewer, walks around my house imitating the wannabe pageant queen. She contorts her voice into a high-pitched rendition of, “I likes to get in the mud because I like to get dirty like a pig.” And I laugh every single time.

For one, she is really good at the impression. But also, I am laughing because I’ve never seen anything quite like the Thompsons on TV before. I’m uncomfortable, I’m entertained, I’m shocked. But I am watching.

Our social norms (what is okay and not okay to do in public) tell us that the shamelessness of the Thompsons and their daily activities isn’t “normal.” The show stereotypes rednecks as underclass citizens who don’t have the social awareness and know-how that the viewers (“normal” citizens) have.

This contradiction to what constitutes “normal” could explain why viewers are responding to the show in a mean-spirited way (for evidence, read Honey Boo Boo related jokes on Twitter).

If we accept the Thompsons, we have to redefine what “normal” means within our society, and that makes people uncomfortable.
Instead, we make fun of or are horrified by Honey Boo Boo and family so that we define ourselves as “normal.” We would never fart in public. We would never draw TV viewers’ attention to our three chins. “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is watchable because we like to see people making fools of themselves for our entertainment.

But more is going on here than just the exploitation of the redneck stereotype and Mama’s farts for TLC’s profit.We’re watching despite of or because of our discomfort. Although they’re easy to judge, the Thompsons are doing a lot of normal things which seem to be overshadowed by the horror of the on-camera fart.

Mama forbids her daughters from swimming in a body of water because she has heard that there’s a flesh-eating bacteria in it. Honey Boo Boo wears a floating device while at a water park.

The girls walk a few feet ahead of Mama when she does something that embarrasses them.
Wait…is this really what the end of civilization looks like?

But the show’s normal, day-to-day moments often go unnoticed because we’re so focused on all the socially unacceptable things that the Thompsons are doing. The show is structured in such a way that throws these atypical things in our face, and those become the source of our entertainment.

What’s pertinent is that regardless of whether we’re entertained or horrified by Honey Boo Boo, we don’t really want to be her.
With such backlash against the show, it’s somewhat surprising that people are still watching: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” beat out the Republican National Convention in viewership for the 18-49 age range according to The Hollywood Reporter.

If this show marks the beginning of an apocalypse, then people are preparing by sitting in their couches and continuing to watch civilization being blown away by farts.

Other News

  • Sports

    Track and field sets records at Bucknell Outdoor Classic

    By EMERALD WRIGHT-COLLIE Staff Writer wrightcolliee@allegheny.edu The Allegheny Track and Field team competed at the Bucknell Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pa this past weekend. Senior Bobby Over added to his Allegheny legacy as he broke yet another record with his 3000 meter dash time. “I am always excited for the level of competition our athletes will face at the Bucknell Bison meet,” said Head Coach Brent Wilkerson. The men’s distance runners had a strong showing this weekend, highlighted by Over’s [...]

    Read more →
  • Science

    You vs. You

    By Gavin Nirmaier Columnist nirmaierg@allegheny.edu Fitness is not a battle between people.  It is easy to get entangled in the trap of self-criticism when comparing oneself to other people in terms of fitness.  This is not a battle that should ever be fought, however—fitness should always be a battle between who you were yesterday and who you want to be today. Everywhere you look, someone that lives a similar fitness-based lifestyle will have something that you don’t.  Bigger arms, better [...]

    Read more →
  • Science

    This week in science 4-18-14

    By AMANDA SPADARO Science Editor spadaroa@allegheny.edu Biology professors at the University of Toronto Mississauga have determined that the first vegetarians evolved from meat-eaters. The research, published by PLOS ONE, provides support for the identification of the first herbivore on earth, Eocasea martinis. This herbivorous organism lived 300 million years ago, predating the dinosaurs by approximately 80 million years. Scientists believe that this fossil organism was part of the group that mammals evolved from. At only about seven inches in length, [...]

    Read more →
  • Opinion

    ReproCo: Just the Tips How to treat a UTI

    By KIM GARRETT Contributing Writer garrettk@allegheny.edu   Hey! Have you ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Odds are, if you have a urethra, especially a urethra contained in a vulva, you have had a UTI at some point in your life.  Luckily, UTIs are both preventable and treatable. Let’s talk about what causes a UTI. A UTI is an infection of, well, the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, kidneys and the tubes that connect them.  A urinary tract [...]

    Read more →
  • Opinion

    What Happened to The Civility?

    By NICK TORTORICI Contributing Writer totoricin@allegheny.edu Civility.  To many people, the commonly accepted definition of this word is something along the lines of politeness, reasonable and respective behavior.  It is something so valued by Allegheny College that for the past three years, our wonderful institution has awarded a prize to public figures who have made positive moves toward a more civil discourse.  The exact rationale for this prestigious award is summarized by the college as such, “The Allegheny College Prize [...]

    Read more →
  • Opinion

    Egyptian scholar on American stereotypes

    By REEM ABOU ELENAIN Copy Editor abouelenainr@allegheny.edu   Before I came to the United States, I was warned about being stereotyped. I was told something along the lines of “expect the unexpected.”  When I came here, I found that most people ask good questions and are genuinely interested in knowing more about my country. However, some of the assumptions and questions were amusing. In Egypt we apparently “still have ancient Egyptians” (whatever that means) and we don’t have planes, vehicles [...]

    Read more →
  • Opinion

    AC Association Scholar: ‘I am not your average Gator’

    By: LORRI DRUMM Contributing Writer drumml@allegheny.edu It’s difficult to grasp the impact that the last two years as an Allegheny College Association scholar have had on my life, but even more challenging to describe it to others. How do you put into words an experience that changed your life? I recently attended the 40th anniversary celebration of this scholarship program and I listened as numerous former scholars echoed my experiences. They spoke of their initial fear of returning to a [...]

    Read more →
  • News

    Students pass honor code

    By SAM STEPHENSON/ CHRISTINA BRYSON News Editor/Junior Editor stephensons@allegheny.edu brysonc@allegheny.edu   This year Allegheny celebrates the 50th anniversary of its honor code, a system designed for students to ensure academic integrity at the college. The Honor Code Committee is currently made up of 12 students from the sophomore, junior and senior classes as well as Dean of Students Joseph DiChristina. The Honor Committee Education Chair Kushtrim Miftari, ’15, describes the honor code as a way to promote academic integrity throughout [...]

    Read more →