Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kid Nation, revisited

A while back, I wrote that I had read some negative things about the new show Kid Nation. I also wrote that I didn't want to form a full opinion of this matter until I had actually seen the show.
Well, last night the first episode of the show aired. And so far, here is my opinion.
To me, it doesn't seem like the kids in this show are being put in danger, or being exploited, or anything else. What I saw was more like a cross between a leadership training camp, and an episode of Double Dare. The kids had to work together to make the town started. They had to work out problems amongst themselves, and divide themselves into teams or "districts." I saw a lot of the older kids trying to look out for the younger kids. At one point, in order to decide which districts would be higher up in class, the kids had to play a game where they had to pump water and carry it over to bottles, trying to be the first team to fill their bottles up. Nothing too dangerous or emotionally damaging there!
Also, at every "Town Meeting", the sole adult... who only appears for town meetings and to coordinate the team-building activities... asks if anyone wants to go home. The kids always have that option open. In fact, in this first episode, the youngest kid... an 8-year-old mopheaded little dude named Jimmy... opted to go home. Although the older kids encouraged him to stay, when he had decided for sure that he wanted to go home, the older kids still cheered for him, said he was a brave boy, and said they would miss him.
Some of the kids also will win large amounts of money, which apparently they did not know when they first signed up for the show.
So all in all, I really don't see anything bad about this show. Possibly, all the negative publicity was just a way to get people talking about the show, and to get them to watch it.
The kids seemed to be having a good time... They seemed to be feeling really proud of their newfound independence... and it will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.
I hope some of you will tune in, and let me know what you think!


G's Cottage said...

Nicki, I hope you realize that only about 10 percent of what goes on ends up in the final cut. The editing is designed to deliver a specific emotional attachment with the audience. Watching the show would not be an informative process for the purpose of deciding the effects on the kids because it is an edited message for the goal of winning over the audience and advertisers, and especially the naysayers, for the next season's shows that are already in the works. They want us to get so emotionally involved in the touchy-feely drama that we overlook how many laws they skirted or outright broke in the process, the lack of commonsense the whole enterprise demonstrates, or the less than forthright information they plied the hapless parents with to get them to sign for their child to participate.

Our culture is already heavily influenced by the exploitation of children by advertisers and marketers. CBS has taken that to a whole new level by pre-exploiting the children and offering them wholesale to the advertisers and marketers.

There is one question I think you should consider. If your focus in on ethical and equitable treatment of children, does endorsing a commercial entertainment program that smacks of, if not outrightly accomplished, exploiting children for financial gain, risk your credibility as a child advocate?


Nicki Mann said...

I've been told I'm a very emotional thinker and make a lot of decisions based on my emotions, so it would make sense that I would be one of the people drawn in!
Does anyone else want to weigh in on this?