Kid Nation Manifesto

A specter is haunting network television- the specter of Kid Nation. As bad an idea as this show seemed, I'll admit it was an intriguing premise. Leave some kids in a ghost town and let them create their own town. It sounded like a psych experiment from the 50's, one no one could do today, but one that would actually give some useful results. I was mostly disappointed by the producers decisions to interfere and manipulate the seemingly open-ended premise into into every other reality show.

The first day the kids seemed like they would be able to create a successful society, with everyone finding a specialized niche that they could fill. The older, bigger kids took care of pulling the supply carts into town. The girl who had some cooking experience took over the kitchen (after some idiot kids filled a pot to the top with macaroni, then added water, and then tried cooking it). Those who had experience with animals milked the goats (really). Everyone got fed. Their society looked like it would settle into a stable dynamic. A stable, socialist society.

Then the producers decided to mess with them. And the kids were too naive to refuse to go along with the overt manipulation. The kids were told to divide into four separate groups. Why? Because. Not surprisingly, rivalry between groups developed instantly. Then the groups had to compete to decide the social class of each group. The upper class got 1.00 of spending money, and got no assigned work. The merchant class got 0.50 for light work. The cooks got 0.25 for cooking all the meals. And the laborers got 0.10 for doing manual labor. [Their daily wages can be spent on goods at the town candy shop.]

After this episode, I am hoping the kids in the lower three classes will decide not to feed the upper class unless they agree to share the workload and share their wages. I think this is the inevitable outcome for this show. The other kids can't be that stupid that they don't realize the unfairness of the situation.

I did correctly predict that the kids would be smart enough to choose the outhouses over a TV when they were offered the choice. And I predict that there will be a socialist revolution before the end of October. (Although they could go another direction toward Anarchy. Or the older kids could impose feudalism. They do have some options.)

Of course, I'm sure the producers decided from the start how they wanted the show to develop, and they will likely continue directing things. So the October revolution may never come. Anyway, despite my moral objection to exploiting children and putting there safety at risk for entertainment, I will be watching to see how this turns out (and to laugh at how stupid the kids are).

Let the upper class tremble at a Kid Nation revolution. The laborers and cooks have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a television show to win.


Kid Nation

On TV tonight:
40 children, 40 days, no adults —
eager to prove they can build a better world for tomorrow in the new reality series KID NATION.

Settling in Bonanza City, New Mexico, once a thriving mining town but now deserted, these Kids, ages 8 to 15 and from all walks of life, will build their own new world, pioneer-style. They will confront grown-up issues while coping with the classic childhood emotions of homesickness, peer pressure and the urge to break every rule. Episodes end with a town meeting in which the kids award one child a gold star worth $20,000, all leading to the grand finale, with an unimaginable test, the biggest awards and a special surprise for every child.

Official CBS site for the show
Kid Nation Promo

sorry, Kid Nation Promo

From the executive producer of Kid Nation, Tom Forman:
"I've been a reality-television producer for a number of years and I was just getting bored by the Hollywood reality types who auditioned for every show I did, who know the answers before you ask the questions, who are looking for this as a way to further their career," Forman said.

"We started talking about how you could make a show that had the unpredictable excitement of that first cycle of Survivor, which I remember watching not as a producer, but just as a fan. How could we possibly get back to that, when nobody knew what was going to happen, not even the participants? So I said, 'Maybe we need to look for participants who weren't even born when that thing premiered.'

"So these are kids. They were born during the Clinton administration. They are, if nothing else, incredibly honest. If they are sad, they cry. If they have a crush on someone, they talk about it. If they're jealous or angry, they fight.

"It's everything that's best about human beings and, at times, worst, because they just don't censor themselves."

Might this be a bad idea? 40 kids left to live by themselves for a month, what could possibly go wrong?

Apparently, lots. Some injuries occurred on the set. Four children needed medical attention after drinking bleach that had been left in an unmarked soda bottle, a girl sprained her arm, becoming one of two children to visit a local emergency room, and an 11-year-old girl who was cooking burned her face with splattered grease. That child's mother, Janis Miles, filed a complaint in June calling for an investigation into "abusive acts to minors and possible violations of child labor laws." The claim was investigated by Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, which found no criminal wrongdoing doing on the part of the production company. CBS said it stood by the procedures it had in place and its "response to all the minor injuries". The network rejected "irresponsible allegations or any attempts to misrepresent and exaggerate events or spread false claims about what happened."

At best, the show will be boring and this will be the last you hear about it. At worst, it will be a trainwreck. The kind you stop and get out of your car to watch. Way to go, CBS.


Hodgepodge Tuesday


Moonbat and Wingnut Return

I am relaunching my Moonbat and Wingnut comic. I know how much everyone has missed it. Adjust your RSS feeds and sidebar links accordingly. I plan to publish every MWF. This will be half as frequently as I did last time, so maybe I will publish it for twice as long. We'll see.


Russia has a Doomsday device.

Mitt Romney would like one of our own.

I'll try to write more later when I have time, but I'll just let you make your own comparison for now.