Wednesday, March 16, 2005

So I saw Nanny 911 the other day for the first time. For those of you not up on your reality television, Nanny 911 is a Fox ripoff of a CBS reality show, which may itself be a ripoff of a British reality show. In it, fucked-up American families with out-of-control kids are visited by British nannies, who stay for a week and show them how to make their little monsters into well-behaved children. It's highly compelling television, in a sleazy, Fox-reality-show kind of way.

But it gave me pause. Obviously, all reality shows are sleazy and exploitative on some level. But this one exploits little kids. Even though the nanny made clear that the kids were horrid, nasty little monsters because of their immensely inept parents, not because there was anything inherently wrong with them, you've still got to confront the fact that the entire premise of the show is that the kids are totally out of control. Can 8-year-olds really give meaningful consent to have their family dysfunction laid bare on national television?

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