Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: Pageants & Family Values

It was the phrase heard across the universe, “A dolla make me holla honey boo boo.”

Well, maybe not. But it was certainly heard in hundreds of thousands of good ol’ American living rooms on that fateful day last January.

____________________________________________________

Every now and then when I am relaxing in front of the tube and there is nothing on, I will demean my intellect with reality shows that patronize its subjects and convince its viewers that designer handbags, cat fights and “GTL” are all part of God’s grand plan for the human race.

However, I have recently switched from those numbing programs to programs which show Middle America and its people working hands-on at blue collar jobs, or just living simple down-home lives. Such shows are somewhat more relatable than seven strangers picked to live in a house who all have it so rough. Needless to say, it has been a nice break from watching the Kardashian family discuss plans to custom build their mausoleums, fully equipped with a moat and marble floors (see episode from 8/19, or don’t… actually, just don’t).

And while shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” are not educational in the slightest, they still have some sort of value in them; they further prove that all families have their own ideas- and a certain right within those ideas- on how to raise their children.

Honestly, I am trying to warm you up to the idea that TLC’s new reality show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” really aint that bad. Whoops, I mean “is not that bad.”

The Georgia family of five was originally featured on the network’s hit kid pageant show, where Alana, a sassy then six year-old, caught the love, attention and an equal amounts of criticism from both viewers and the media.

Anyone with an opinion (which is everyone) has something to say about child pageants. This is a pop culture hot-button topic, and while everyone else seems to give a damn, I have yet to develop a strong view on whether I do.

According to a report on EW.com,  the spinoff, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” brought in 2.3 million viewers during its August 24th episode. This means people are intrigued for whatever reason. I have watched enough “Toddlers and Tiaras” to understand people’s concerns. Children should not be subjected to that type of lifestyle; a lifestyle where makeup, tanning and photo shoots are done before they can walk, talk or use the potty without someone to wipe their behinds for them. I understand that a lot of these “pageant moms” are suspected to be living vicariously through their daughters, and some even admit it. However, in the case of Honey Boo Boo a.k.a Alana, I do not believe this to be the case.

Not only does the quirky, overweight toddler admit to loving pageants, it shows when she is on stage. For some kids it is sports, for others it is a less physically demanding activity. Children who take part in extracurriculars when they are four years old- whether it is dance, gymnastics or teeball- are just as likely to hate what their parents may or may not be forcing them to do as much as a pageant child.

In the case of Honey Boo Boo, I have noticed a real homey type of love in her family. They may be what some call “white trash” but there is a bond that “Mama,” the 33 year-old mother has with her children that I do not even see when I am at the grocery store surrounded by soccer moms engaging in WWE moves in attempt to keep their kids from loading the cart with Fruit Roll Ups and Cheetos, cussing and sweating over their uncontrollable terrors.

Maybe Mama and her three daughters do not speak the most eloquently, or have poise and oodles of class, but they are still a family that shows evidence of love. The gang even held a charity event at her home called “Christmas in July,” in which neighbors and friends stopped over to donate non-perishables for the less fortunate.

At the end of the day, the lives of pageant families have no direct effect on any of us. No matter how much we complain about how wrong it is, nothing we say can really be done to stop it. The best thing to do, as it is in any case where television makes you sick, is to change the channel. There are worse things parents can do to their children, like total neglect, no?

I am not condoning child pageants like Alana participates in, or pregnancy at fifteen like her sister is, or eating bacon cheeseburgers until you are over 300 pounds like Mama. If these glitz-hungry families are happy and your lives are so perfect the way they are, why waste your time complaining about it so much? I am only trying to get those who are so hell-bent on condemning pageantry to think a wee bit different on the topic for, like, ten minutes max.

Then you can go back to hating. But really, where does that get you?

Sharing Tradition Worldwide: The Qixi

Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day! Well, sort of.

Today, mostly in China, the Qixi Festival is celebrated. An Asian holiday similar to the American “Valentine’s Day,” the Qixi is in honor of an old tale that says the Milky Way was created to separate two lovers; one a human boy, Niulang, and the other a fairy girl, Zhinü . However, on the seventh Lunar night of the seventh Lunar month, (which happens to fall on today’s 2012 date), the two lovers would come together in a passionate reunion.

Zhinü, the fairy weaver, was bored with Heaven and went to explore Earth when she met a young cowherd, Niulang. The two instantly fell in love and were married without the consent of the weaver’s goddess mother, and even had two children with the mortal man.

Once Zhinü’s goddess mother ordered her back to heaven, Niulang became depressed. One day, his ox told Niulang that if he were to kill him and wear his hide, he would be able to go up to heaven and see his fairy wife.

The cowherd killed the ox and flew up to heaven. When Zhinü’s mother got word, she took her hair pin out and sliced a divider in the sky. The gap became a galactic river that she thought would keep the mortal and her fairy daughter apart forever.

Once a year, other beings in the fairy’s universe would build a bridge to bring the two lovers together for one night out of pity.

The holiday is celebrated by retelling the story under the stars Altair and Vega, symbols for the two ancient lovers. The holiday is much like St. Valentine’s Day, where couples and lovers court one another and exchange small presents. 

The cutest part of the modern Qixi gift-giving tradition? Fireflies are a popular gift from man to woman, as an illuminating symbol of love.

A great myth about the Qixi, is that on this day it will likely rain because of all the crying in heaven. Another says, if you stand under grapevines at night you can hear the lovers talking.

If Valentine’s Day is your thing and you just cannot wait until the New Year for all the excitement of love, candy, dining out and wooing your lover, go on and celebrate Qixi.

Just remember to tell your significant other the story, first. It is a great tale to know and share!

_______________________________________________________

Fairy of the Magpie Bridge

Among the beautiful clouds
Over the heavenly river
Crosses the weaving maiden.

A night of rendezvous
Across the autumn sky
Surpasses joy on earth.

Moments of tender love and dream
So sad to leave the magpie bridge.

Eternal love between us two
Shall withstand the time apart.