UNITED STATES—The Greek philosopher Socrates is back in the thick of things, propelled by a mistaken flight to Athens, Georgia, which gave him down time a-plenty to catch up on the latest cultural phenomena. Ever the quick study, by the time the plane touched ground, he was game to take a bus to
Georgia, the very heart of an engrossing new suburb of reality—emphasize the gross—reality TV and home to its youngest star, Honey Boo Boo.
There Socrates could indulge his passion to peel away the onion layers to reach the ultimate reality, but by then there will be nothing left to put on the burgers except limp tomato slices and wimpy sweet dill pickles.
Socrates: You think the
U.S. economy is dead? You should see
Greece, in hawk to the World Bank, and the Elysian Fields, especially, where I’ve been cooling my heels for the last 2000 years. So I’ve ventured forth to become on on-set tutor, looking out for the well-being of thespian youth.
Honey Boo Boo
Honey: I’m sorry we don’t need you, mister. Nothin like that. Me and momma and my sisters don’t have no schoolin. It would mess with our natural state of ignorance. Momma has a choice to leave us out of school. And it helps the ratings.
Socrates: What are these things, ratings? You mean like R or X for movies?
Honey: Oh my gawd. Are you serious? You don’t know what TV ratings are?
Socrates: Listen, pint-sized beauty queen, I’m the one who asks the questions here. I’m Socrates, the original question man.
Honey: Momma says ratings are important because the more higher ratings we get the more TLC gets to charge for commercials.
Socrates: Forgive my indulgence of one thing there seems to be plenty of around here—ignorance--what are these commercials?
Honey: Yall know, the part of the show where there’s a break and you get go-go juice.
Socrates: What, pray tell, is go-go juice?
Honey: Mountain Dew mixed with Red Bull. Momma gives it to me to get jazzed before the beauty pageants so I dazzle the judges.
Socrates: Doesn’t that have a lot of kick for an eight-year old?
Honey: Mr. Socrates, we are a 100% genuine, real meat-chomping, lice-picking, grease-eating, caffeine-imbibing all-American family.
Socrates: But that doesn’t give you the right to flout child-labor law. I know for a fact that Americans are very strict about hours children are able to work, so protective are they of the sanctity of innocent, sweet childhood. You are required by law to have a teacher on the set for three hours.
Momma June (glances up from furious coupon clipping): This ain’t no set. This is our home, and we would like it if you’d just butt out, OK? And why are you wearin a housedress?
Socrates: That’s not a dress, that’s a toga. . . And, your young daughter can only work for a maximum of three hours every day.
Momma June: That’s for a movie or show. But this ain’t no movie. This is who we are, nobody tells us what to do. Redneck-ized, unvarnished reality that makes for darn good TV.
Socrates: What is commonly referred to as ‘good’ TV is neither real nor beautiful. So can it be truly good?
Momma June: We’re just ourselves, Mr. Socrates. Say what you will, me and my girls, all fathered by different men-boys, is good people.
(Momma June, after her participation in the colloquy concludes, goes back to furiously snipping coupons.)
Honey: We have a gaggle of cameras around, sure, but we aren’t working. This is our lives. We don’t need no teacher. My older sister Chickadee is in her third tri-mester . . .
Socrates: At what university is she studying?
Momma June: I’m proud to say she did it all by herself. (June stands.) She’s smart as a whip--no sex education class for her. Now she’s in the family way. And that sho won’t hurt the ratings. We’ve got to keep the ignorance bar high. . . Would you like to sample some of Honey’s go-go juice?
(Momma June pours him a cup from the fridge.)
Socrates (drinks): This is quite delicious, a daresay, ambrosial. (A horrified look enters his eyes). I detect a mild aftertaste of. . . hemlock.
(Socrates conks out cold on the floor. Momma June drops the thick redneck accent in the blink of an eye.)
Momma June: Hee hee hee--we got rid of that loser in a dress. Now let’s do a meeting with our accountants and go down the deadbeat list. Dad number three has been in arrears with child support. Let’s hire a new coupon-clipping maquilora; the one in
Guam is not keeping up. Tell our scribes to draft a reconciliation episode with Honey’s dad. Possible romance sparks: ratings will shoot through the roof.
Grady Miller can be reached at email@example.com