Exploiting kids in the Name of TV

The media is buzzing about the new season of The Simple Life in which scary skinny rich girls Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton take on the role of camp counselor, including counseling kids at a fat camp (or as E! prefers to call it, a weight loss/ fitness camp).From the Boston Herald: “So what on earth will Richie, who has admitted to having weight issues, promote to the roly-poly kids? Bulimia? Anorexia? And the only fitness Hilton seems to get is walking the red carpet.”From Us Magazine: “You have to hand it to E! There’s a subtle genius to hiring a celebrity who’s admitted to suffering from an eating problem to counsel people at a weight loss camp — one who was hospitalized two weeks ago because she forgot that she’s supposed to drink things.But seriously, isn’t Paris Hilton the spokestard for a burger chain? This plan is full of conflicts of interest.”

CommonSense Media Blog Post: Paris and Nicole go to Fat Camp

This makes me literally nauseous. I am sitting here just fretting for any kid that came into contact with the two lowest forms of life. “Entertainment” aside– we’re dealing with REAL humans… young, impressionable kids who are insecure and wanting a place to go so they can find some peers, have fun, enjoy a relaxing summer, and get healthy.

Not ONE THING about Paris or Nicole’s ENTIRE existence is healthy. Not ONE BLOODY THING. And kids are being subjected to their rude, cancerous behavior in the name of “television entertainment”– one of the adored elements in a kids life? What kid doesn’t have “stars” in her/his eyes?

I’m absolutely fuming right now. Boiling mad. Clearly “E!” sees that they have NO obligation towards social responsibility through their platform. Young eyes that see this WRETCHED nonsense aside– how many camps will these two appear at? How many kids are they going to taint with their horrible behavior, rudeness, and general skankitude?

When I was a camper at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp (greatest camp on earth), the “New Kids on the Block” were scheduled to appear. My parents were the kind that didn’t listen to cool, hip new music– I was only subjected to oldies, musicals, and Disney tunes. The only thing I knew about NKOTB was that my cousin liked them, and when he had bought their tape my Aunt had yelled at him for singing curse words. So I had associated New Kids & Bad behavior. When that flyer hit the walls of Phantom Lake, everyone was sooooo excited. I kept thinking- ugh! These are bad boys! But the closer it came to their appearance at camp, the more peer pressure, the quicker I was to forget my dislike and embrace these magical singers for the glory of their famousness. (Naturally the New Kids on the Block never showed up– it was a joke.
Guy counselors dressed up as the group and entertained us.)

I completely forgot about all the bad things I had been told about NKOTB and just gave in to kid-excitement– all my friends said they were cool, so they MUST be. “Famous! Maybe I’ll be famous! I love them!” Kids at camp– that’s a kid world. They never get an opportunity to escape their peer-pressure. Mom and Dad are not there to protect their children from such lethal *ahem* “role models”– because that’s what camp counselors are! They’re cool role models, governing a kid-ruled world out in the forest, filled with games, friends, and fun! Bad counselors get fired. Not exonerated for being famous. Bad people are generally AVOIDED LIKE THE PLAGUE when hiring for camp.

The very idea that Paris & Nicole are going to be at a weight-loss camp… I just can’t even comprehend who would “okay” that. I don’t care WHAT goes on behind the scenes– kids don’t really know how to break “play for TV” from “this is real” Paris could be soooo nice on screen and wretched off screen. Or worse, Nicole could be vicious and insulting on screen and buttery-nice off screen. What is that going to do to a child’s psyche?

In EVERY episode I’ve ever seen with the heiresses, the premise is: remind the world how wealthy, privileged, and “cute” Nicole & Paris are, while simultaneously allowing them to “interact” with people “below them.” They insult, cause problems, break rules, and paint everything girly pink with sparkles.

Any weight-loss camp would be like the best-kind-of fodder for two girls who thrive off of exploitation & meanness. It’s like sticking a angry/starving bear in a beehive filled with stingerless bees.

The only good I can see in this comes from the aforementioned article.

Keeping Kids Healthy in a 24/7 Media World:

  • Watch media with your kids. Point out when someone is selling
    them something that isn’t good for their bodies. Point out how much
    effort (stylists, trainers, image editing, etc.) goes into celebrities’
    looks — it’s their job, after all. Point out product tie-ins,
    advergames, and placements and how they’re embedded in media.
  • Explain the basics of eating disorders. See if you can find
    examples of behaviors in media that could lead to any of these
  • Be careful when discussing weight with your kids.They can
    easily feel criticized, since it’s natural for them to be
    hyper-sensitive about their bodies. Keep the emphasis on health rather
    than appearance.
  • Keep information age appropriate. With elementary school
    kids, explain how diet and exercise keep them healthy. Middle schoolers
    can absorb information about obesity, eating disorders, alcohol, drugs,
    and cigarettes. Teens should understand that stars look the way they do
    thanks to Photoshop, makeup artists, strict diet, and tons of exercise.
  • Limit or avoid exposing young kids to commercials. Kids 2-7 often can’t distinguish between ad messages and reality.
  • Don’t let young girls immerse themselves in fashion magazines
    — without giving them some healthy perspective. Studies show that
    teens who read lots of diet articles are more likely five years later
    to practice extreme weight-loss measures such as smoking cigarettes,
    abusing laxatives, and fasting.

Personally, I hope P&N get lost on some nature hike and never, ever return. Ever. Maybe they can pick up Britney and Lindsay Lohan on the way. So long to BAD rubbish.

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  1. April 1, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    The part about Paris and Nicole is horrible. The NKOTB story is near tragic too! I’m going to include a link to this story at NKOTBlog I’ve been writing

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