BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
She is a 6-year-old who has dazzled America with the words of her mouth, Alana, popularly known as Honey Boo Boo says what you rarely hear from a typical 6-year-old. She is well liked at least by those who see nothing wrong with her and her family’s reality show. Her character has brought her appearances on both daytime shows with Anderson Cooper and Nighttime with Jimmy Kimmel. Despite having a character that attracts audience, it did not stop her critics from hurling attacks at the little girl and her family, for having such a reality show with a vulgar 6-year-old as they like to call it.
To her critics, her character is marked by a lack of good breeding and taste. They believe her show should be yanked from TLC and in their opinion Honey Boo is a spoilt child exploited by her mom June Shannon and the rest of her family. The point is why such a rare talent has become a subject of unwarranted attacks? What Honey Boo has is what you rarely find in a child. It is a rare character that can only make her a celebrity at her age and if left unused, the opportunity may never be recovered. After all, who cares about June Shannon and the rest of the family, if not for Honey Boo and her amusing nature?
The fact is America is a nation that glorifies aberrant behavior. It is the only place on earth where one’s craziness can propel him to a celebrity status. And unless you do something really weird these days, it seems you’re unlikely to make money or achieve fame. Call this a plain lie and Youtube will bear witness to how infatuated America is with short-lived passion and admiration. The sex tapes and relationship breakups never stopped people from following the Kardashians around. Their reality show is watched by millions around the world and to many they are role models.
Lindsey Lohan is still making headlines daily, despite multiple arrests and allegation of theft. When an American student in Italy was convicted of killing her roommate, she returned home to a red-carpet and it did not take long for her to get a book deal. The three hikers got a hero’s welcome after returning from Iran a country they had no business going to and on arrival, publishers chased them around for a book deal. The glorification of weird character has become part of American culture or else no one would have bothered to purchase “If I Did It,” a book by O.J. Simpson in which he puts forth a hypothetical description of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
So why the harsh Critique of Honey Boo, when other shows such as the Braxton Family Values is celebrated despite the occasional use of vulgar language? America is a land of opportunity, that opportunity comes once and unless you grab it, you’re unlikely to see it again. Honey Boo is a celebrity now because of her age and her character which is larger than her time on earth. If she were a 20-year-old saying or doing what she does now no one would have cared. She has followers because she says what Americans don’t expect from a 6-year-old. Her character has become an opportunity for her to achieve fame and make money early in life and unless the opportunity is seized, she may forfeit it forever.
Bet you remember Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges of ‘Different Strokes.’ They were great child actors who made headlines worldwide because of the amusement they brought to the show. Until his death at the age of 42 in 2010, you never saw Gary Coleman in big movies or making headlines. The case is same for Todd Bridges who only appeared recently on the Oprah Show for an interview on his book ‘Killing Willis.’ The fact is they no longer have what their followers identify with, the ‘child factor’ and the talent to amuse adults and their pairs as children. These days, no one wants to see the actor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) of Family Matters, coming back as a child actor. The mojo he had as a child actor is gone and people would rather he is dancing with the star or hosting a game show like the Syfy ‘Total Blackout.’
The story might be same for Honey Boo in the next 10 or 15 years. This is her chance to shine and make a living and as long as she is not abused, there is nothing wrong in her portrayal of a rare and amusing character. Or would her critics prefer the family live on food stamps when they have a child with talent? So far, there is no allegation of abuse of her character for monetary gains, her mom June Shannon, indicated that the money Honey Boo makes is deposited directly by TLC, into a trust fund for her and that she only gets the bank statements So, why the buzz over Honey Boo, and her show?
Honey Boo is a child with the profound talent to make others laugh. There is a comedic tone to whatever she says and though, she may be young her rare character is only useful now. Thank goodness she was discovered early because left for her critics, she would have been made to sit on a gold mine and not know it. America loves such characters and appreciates weird stuffs. Those in doubt should only be disappointed if in the next 10 or 15 years, Honey Boo becomes hooked on drugs or incarcerated.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD} is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations; follow on Twitter @san0670. He is the author of ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade.