LEWIS: ‘Kid Nation’: Now that’s my kind of exploitation

Bailey Lewis

Games and prizes. Running stores. Pancakes and macaroni. Killing chickens. Wait, what? “Kid Nation” is reality television’s newest innovation, if you can call it that. The program may not be strictly “Survivor” for kids, but it’s pretty close.

Nevertheless, I like this show, and not just because the kids are cute. Like most other reality television shows, it’s interesting, dang it!

A 10-second synopsis: Forty children are put in a New Mexico ghost town for 40 days. Together, they have to do everything to make their little community go round. They cook the meals, clean the port-a-potties, settle the disputes and try to act like adults.

“Kids can do just as much as adults can do,” said Laurel, 12, city council member on the show.

Anyone who says they didn’t think that as a child is probably a liar. But even if the kids can make their community work, I don’t think it really proves that children are as capable as adults.

There were obviously paramedics there at all times in order to help out. More on that in a minute.

There were also camera crews. In other words, adults with cameras. The props are a little corny, like the “really old book” they find that tells them what to do. It was drawn up last month on some designer’s computer. They also have plenty of canned food, complete with can opener.

The whole show is staged. And I don’t care.

This show reminds me a lot of an exaggerated version of an old-school Nickelodeon show, like “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” If Nickelodeon were as crazy and as much of a glutton for punishment as CBS, that is. Maybe it’s the props and games.

For their first challenge, the kids had to pump different colors of water from the ground. The water sprayed out of a fake oil rig, and the kids ran around, trying to catch it in buckets. It reminded me so much of “Double Dare” or “Wild and Crazy Kids.” The kids were on teams dressed in different colors. The announcer was acting as if they were playing a professional football game. I felt like I was 9 years old again, sitting on my couch in front of the television during the hottest days of summer.

Yes, above, I said CBS is a glutton for punishment. There are already reports popping up that some of the kids accidentally ingested bleach. Not good, not good. Another parent has complained that her daughter burned her face when grease splattered from the stove. Not good, not good.

But then again, what kind of stupid parents put their child in the hands of Hollywood producers for more than a month? Actually, who would for two minutes while you go to the bathroom? People say these children were exploited, and of course they were. Reality television and exploitation will probably be synonyms in the next edition of Roget’s Thesaurus.

When I was the same age as these kids – 8 to 15 – I would have loved to have been exploited like this. But just because your child begs for something does not mean you should let them do it. Most of these kids will probably be better people for their experience here, but no one can say for sure. Why wouldn’t you just enroll them in Boy or Girl Scouts instead? Or better yet, 4-H. 4-H is the bomb.

Are you sad because you missed “Kid Nation” last night? I’m not – I watched it. Mark your calendar for 7 p.m. next Wednesday on CBS. While you’re at it, grab some friends, make some mac and cheese, drink Kool-Aid, and have your own “Kid Nation” party! You can even make the mac and cheese on a wood stove. I won’t judge you.

Bailey Lewis is a sophomore in English from Indianola.