One nation, under child …

Joann Ostrow’s entertainment column in Sunday’s Denver Post caught my attention. It’s about CBS’ new series airing this fall called “Kid Nation.”Feel free to watch the promo by clicking HERE. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what to make of this. Ostrow’s story identifies this new reality series as being

potentially more grievous than the vicariously disgusting sight of people eating larvae on a dare, and even possibly worse than seeing 20-something housemates drinking, coupling and unraveling on the air.

Why is that you may ask? Well, this new series involves 40 children, ranging in ages from 15 to 8 1/2, “pioneering” an old ghost town in the middle of the New Mexico desert and developing their own society. A society, as Ostrow correctly identifies, is akin to “The Lord of the Flies.” Apparently, the children were taken out of school for 40 days and left unsupervised in this ghost town, trailed by film crews.

But the series is getting a lot of attention. And according to Ostrow’s article, CBS is loving the attention, stating

“In order for a reality show to really get out there and change the landscape of television, you have to stir public debate,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler told critics in Los Angeles last month. “We knew we were going to create some controversy.”

According to the article, “documents surfaced last week confirming that the producers were warned by the New Mexico attorney general’s office during filming in April that they were in violation of child labor laws.” I’m not sure if that is accurate or not, but I’ll trust Ostrow’s judgment on her fact finding.

As I said, I’m not sure what to make of this. Is there exposure to violating child labor laws? Likely. Is there possibility that children will be hurt (a MAJOR source of concern for me)? I like to think that CBS isn’t stupid and despite all the releases these children’s parents signed, there are apparently doctors and psychologists on site to help with any emergencies. But is there amusement and entertainment in watching children evolve in a society created exclusively on their own? Shouldn’t we be more interested in our own children and how they evolve in our own society? Personally, I’d rather go watch and coach my kid playing soccer and see how he develops there. I think there is more to learn about child-nature than having to turn on the the TV to get a glimpse of it. Perhaps that’s where the issue lies.

Comments:

  1. “Kid Nation” is nothing short of a group of executives sitting in the corporate offices of CBS with a strong burning desire to prove the methodology behind “Lord of the Flies”.

    I can easily see the editing team watching hours upon hours of tape vehemently praying for similar themes from Ostrow’s novel. Themes that man, in this case child, needs society to provide cohesion and order, dissention, the groups need to establish traditional roles and (depending on how out of hand the exec’s at CBS allow this freak show to run), there is always the theme of survival (and the bit about the fittest).

    With little to no exposure to the upcoming series, I am confident that within the group will contain the traditional (almost expected) roles: a villain, the group leader and subgroups. CBS cliché is attempting to suggest that man, or child, is preprogrammed and society as we know would continue to exists along with its triumphs and failures regardless of age.

    Comment by C. T. on August 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

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