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Why we're fascinated with Honey Boo BooAugust 8, 2012 @ 2:18 am (Updated: 9:46 am - 8/8/12 )
"I'm Alana, I'm six and I'm a beauty queen," says a sassy girl with southern drawl. "A dolla make me holla honey boo boo."
Alana Thompson in front of her Georgia home, and as she appears for pageants. TLC Photos
The little girl from rural Georgia is known to viewers of the reality show "Toddlers & Tiaras" as Honey Boo Boo. She's a Go Go Juice (mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew) chugging pageant girl who has such an outgoing personality that producers of the TLC show have given her a spin off series featuring her "crazy" family.
In "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," Alana introduces viewers to the "boss of the family" Mama June, who is an extreme couponer. Her dad, Sugar Bear, is a chalk miner. She has three sisters - Lauryn, who's 12; the "pregnantest," 17-year-old Anna; and her favorite, Jessica, who's 15 and known as "Chubbs."
Six half-hour episodes will air in August, beginning Wednesday night.
"It's pure exploitation. You can sugar coat it as much as you want as entertainment, or this genre called reality television, but it's pure exploitation by producers, by parents, by the sponsors and by everybody involved," says Robert Galinsky, founder of the New York Reality TV School.
Galinsky trains people who want to be on television to "articulate their story, be more confident and deal with stressful situations" when their 15 seconds of fame arrives. With the pace of the world today, we no longer get 15 minutes of fame.
He thinks of himself as an "advocate for authenticity" who does not exploit people.
"I am helping people figure out how to walk through this gauntlet and come out on the other end on the positive side of things, and to not let the stress and the manipulation turn them into something that they're not," he says.
Watching "Toddlers and Tiaras" with my daughter is a guilty pleasure. We like Alana, she's "spunky." I'm concerned for her that people are going to make fun of her, and her family. There are already haters posting messages on YouTube and other sites.
We are a society that likes to cut others down. Isn't that why most people watch reality TV shows?
Galinsky believes people watch reality programs for opposite reason. He says viewers want to "root for people" and see them succeed.
"Along the way there is a greater percentage of contestants or cast members who are train wrecks," he says. "Unfortunately, a lot of people think it's a joy to watch people crash and burn. It takes their minds off what's going on in their own lives, it makes them feel better about their own lives by watching somebody else who's a complete melt down."
He's hoping Honey Boo Boo will make it through her new show experience by being a well-adjusted little girl.
"Honey Boo Boo is amazing because she's like a cartoon character come to life," says Galinsky. "She's unique, she's original, she's brash and yet she's in this pint-size little kid. She's a strange, exceptional person and we love to watch that."
The little girl's fans, and there are many, will want to know if she turns into a teenager who rises above her family. They're portrayed as ignorant, Southern red necks.
Alana's mother says she doesn't care what people think of her. She loves her "little life" just as it is.
"Is she going to turn into a teenager who years from now is going to become a tragic story, or is Honey Boo Boo going to conquer the world? You never know," he says. "Honey Boo boo might make her way on a U.S. postal stamp at some point."
Since Galinsky has been involved in the business, he's has watched reality TV evolve slightly. Viewers are not interested in watching people be humiliated as they once were. That's encouraging.
By LINDA THOMAS
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