kid nation

On September 19, CBS will begin airing the “reality” series, Kid Nation. It’s hard to know what the execs at CBS had in mind when they greenlit the project. I guess it’s one of those things that would have worked either way. Either the 40 kids given the task of governing themselves would lose their shit and go all “Lord of the Flies,” or they’d pull together, create a functional society in the former New Mexico mining town, and teach all of us adults a valuable lesson about life. Either way it’s good TV.

“Can they succeed where adults have failed” — that’s the tag-line.

I was intrigued when I first read about the concept. It’s a kind of terrifying and beautiful idea. Drop a gang of 8 to 15 year old kids in the middle of an abandoned town and leave them alone to sink or swim. Of course, that’s not really what happens at all. Left to their own devices, they might have had a decent shot at creating something to be proud of. But, as I think we all could have guessed, the adults, contrary to what the tag-line might suggest, are very much involved. The adults pull the strings and these 40 fresh-faced, teleginic kids jump. Their emotions are manipulated for good TV. I’ve read that in some cases, they were made to work 14-plus hour days. And, kids pushed to their breaking point make for good TV. (If they’d been professional actors, it would have been illegal to work them so hard at their age, but since it’s reality television, it’s apparently alright.) Maybe I’m over-exaggerating a bit, but I don’t think these kids ever had a shot.

Watch the trailer if you don’t believe me. At some point toward the end, you’ll see the kids competing against one another. They’re competing over labels. They all want to be “upper class,” but, alas, some will be “laborers.” Left to their own devices, I doubt this would have been their agreed-upon division of labor. I doubt that a kid would say, “Some of us should live comfortably in big houses, doing little work, while others work 14-hour days in the hot sun.” Hell, no. The kids would have said, “We all need to work together.” But that’s not the construct that’s handed to them by the adult producers of the show. They’re forced to replicate the system we have now, as though it’s the gold standard. They’re only seen as being successful if they deliver a system that mirrors what we have today. Or, at least that’s what it looks like to me… Watch the trailer and let me know if you agree.

[This post was brought to you by the terrifying black people who gave Republican Florida State Representative Bob Allen no choice but to suck restroom cock, the boy that took Republican Congressman Mark Foley’s “did you spank it this weekend” comment out of context, and those stupid cops who misread Republican Senator Larry Craig’s innocent beneath-the-stall foot rubbing as an invitation for gay sex.]

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  1. be OH be
    Posted August 29, 2007 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I felt kind of nauseous after watching that promo. I guess I’ve become numb to the idea of consenting adults making fools of themselves on TV. But I’m saddened by the fact that these kids’ parents sold them out for mass entertainment. And yes, I think the producers tried to hoist a lot of bullshit mores on the kids.

  2. Steph's Dad
    Posted August 29, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    According to Wikipedia, the kids were only paid five grand each.

    One person each episode is awarded $2,000 though.

  3. Ol E' Cross
    Posted August 29, 2007 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I agree that those kids are ADORABLE!

    Don’t worry, I’m sure that the producers will provide a final episode where the kids will be deemed a success complete with cleansing clips of how much they learned from it all.

    (Next season … The Children’s Crusade: Forty kids are dropped into Baghdad to see if they can do better than the grownups.)

  4. egpenet
    Posted August 29, 2007 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Just goes to prove what has been true for eons … many adults feel children are expendable. Beat them, give them guns in Darfur, blow them up on Haifa buses, starve them, abort them … who cares?

    Circumstance warrant … make another one, and possibly have a little fun doing it!

  5. Kate
    Posted August 30, 2007 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    This is despicable. You’re right, Mark, that adults have put the class system on them and done a whole lot of manipulation. That’s apparent just from this promo. I watched a briefer promo on CBS the other night and walked away feeling unclean. This was a sick, sick, sick idea.

  6. Robert
    Posted August 30, 2007 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I’m just praying no television executives see your post, Mark. We’ll know who’s fault it is when half way through the second season of Kid Nation, a dozen republican legislators are added to the mix to spice things up. Of course ratings will go up, because those same Republicans who were so excited to watch (and condemn) Eva Longoria’s character fucking a high school kid, are going to be trolling the TV frequencies looking for something else to watch that provides one more artificial target for their phony sense of moral superiority, and at the same time plays to their depraved sexuality.

  7. Ed
    Posted August 30, 2007 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Ok, here’s the idea. A reality series about babies that fight to the death. We only use “ethnic” babies, so there’s no controversy, and Michael Vick hosts it.

  8. Mike
    Posted September 5, 2007 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Robert, for acting out this inner drama of yours. Always helpful to see what lies inside someone who is fearful of taking a moral position, even a gut cinch issue like this deplorable pop culture offering

  9. Posted September 23, 2007 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Heres another idea i say on jimmy kimmel, babies on cinder blocks. Seriously though this kid nation is just pain dumb.

  10. Robert
    Posted September 23, 2007 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Mike, I am praying that was sarcasm.

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