Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe speech will be remembered for many things, other than how not to give a speech. We’ll remember the wackiness, the coming out that wasn’t, and, of course, Mel Gibson. Something that likely won’t be remembered and should, is this:
“You guys might be surprised,” Foster said to a gallery of teary-eyed celebrirites, “but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child.”
Foster, a former child actress, went on to explain that she is not like the seven-year-old laughing stock of this continent because she enjoys her privacy. Not only that: she has earned her privacy.
So, too, I think, has Alana Thompson (the person behind Honey Boo Boo Child). Unfortunately, the adults in and outside her life don’t really seem to care. Why? Because we live in a cruel world in which it’s socially acceptable for adults to relive and rewrite their adolescence (follow, unfollow, friend, unfriend).
And we obfuscate that cruelty with a new brand of doublespeak: i.e. we hate bullying and intolerance, everyone is special in his own special way—”don’t let anyone tell you differently”— but we’re more than perfectly willing to tolerate the constant exploitation of children. It may be the biggest cultural hypocrisy of our time. It was especially hypocritical of Foster to evoke Honey Boo Boo Child. Unlike many of today’s working minors, Foster was considered a child actor and was required, by law, to be paid directly for her roles. Bottom line and the subtext of the joke is that every person desires and deserves privacy—unless you are a chubby little low-rent girl turned into a cash cow for adults.
But this isn’t just about Honey Boo Boo Child, or Jodie Foster, who in her defence, was probably nervous, or high, or something. It’s also about Rebecca Black, a California preteen whose spoofable amateur pop song, Friday, launched her to instant stardom followed by a flood of sarcastic derision and merciless bullying that prompted her to remove herself from school. Adults made fun of Rebecca Black just as much, if not more, than her own peers. It was probably the most high-profile, wide-scale bullying case in modern history, yet none of the experts I talked to on a bullying-themed T.V. panel this past November, even knew her name. (And I even sang the song.)
Rebecca Black and Honey Boo Boo Child are the victims and products of an age in which grownups are incapable of following their own behavioral dictums. In this case, just because it’s funny, it doesn’t mean you should laugh. We may still tell our kids this, but the message is lost when we’re doing Honey Boo Boo impersonations and tevo-ing Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Do as I say, not as I do, is the hottest parenting trend of our generation.