anne_mikolay_2012_120I’d been feeling somewhat out of sorts, watching the world go by, functioning on auto-pilot amidst the clouds. Something seemed amiss, though I couldn’t pinpoint the issue until a photo of Andy Griffith appeared on Facebook. The photo and its caption (“The world needs more Mayberry and less Honey Boo Boo”) shared via radio station 101.7 was personally enlightening.

I know what’s wrong with me now. I’ve got Honey Boo Boo-itis!

What, you ask, is Honey Boo Boo-itis? It’s the condition of having been “dumbed down” by today’s television programming, sort of a reality television shell shock, if you will, resulting from society’s ever declining standard of quality. I’m being a bit dramatic, you say? Well, let’s consider some of our current viewing options. Shall we?

In the ever trashy tradition of Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, and the Kardashians, Bravo TV is introducing its latest reality series, Princesses: Long Island, profiling pampered young women, recent college graduates who can’t find employment and thus move back in with Mommy and Daddy, who hope to find them rich husbands. Princesses: Long Island pushes stereotypes in much the same way as Shah’s of Sunset, Bravo’s series following Iranian-American socialites. Both shows are as appealing as Double Divas, Lifetime’s ridiculous offering about the adventures of two Atlanta based bra fitters. There are reality shows about exterminators, alligator hunters, tattoo artists, ghost hunters, hoarders, self-professed rednecks and their precocious offspring, people addicted to eating toilet paper, sand, and other weird things, rich wives in Beverly Hills, rich wives in New Jersey, angry brides, angry moms of little girl dancers, angry women competing for a bachelor, an angry skinny girl getting-married, becoming a mom, and getting divorced (and she’s still angry), and angry moms of toddlers in tiaras. Television producers copy from one another: Oxygen has Best Ink; TLC has America’s Worst Tattoo. The History Channel has Pawn Stars; TruTV has Hardcore Pawn. SyFy has Ghost Hunters while the Travel Channel has Ghost Adventures and A&E has Paranormal State. Reality television brings an angry, weird, foul mouthed world into our living rooms; Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, Mike and Carol Brady, Ma, Pa and Half Pint, Andy and Opie Taylor and Aunt Bee (and the virtues they represent) have no place in this brave, new world of reality television.

All this negativity camouflaged as entertainment pushes the world off-kilter. Exposure to “reality” makes little girls admire people with names like Snooki or Honey Boo-Boo and desensitizes the impressionable to words that deserve a thorough mouth rinsing with soap. Admittedly, I am not of the current generation, but I am not so far removed that I can’t appreciate youthful self-expression and a culture apart from my own. That said, I will never accept anger, trashy behavior, foul language, and tension as the social norm and reject the declining values reality television promotes.

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It bears repeating: The world needs more Mayberry and less Honey Boo-Boo!

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Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...