August 19, 2007

Things that annoy me - part 2

"Kid Nation". Un-be-lie-va-ble. Take 40 kids, ages 8 to 15, plunk them in a ghost town in the middle of the desert for 40 days to build a city. Working from dawn to dusk, doing anything that needed to be doing, without being shown how, or being supervised. Film it all, reality-TV style and bam, you have a "show". There are some drawbacks, though. Such as:

Several children required medical attention after drinking bleach that had been left in an unmarked soda bottle, according to both the parent and CBS. One 11-year-old girl burned her face with splattered grease while cooking.

Ok. I am not really surprised that CBS tried to do the show. I'm sure they get pitched even more despicable and illegal schemes all the time. But I can't imagine that their legal department let it through. It is simply inconceivable that they didn't know that accidents were very likely. As it is, they got lucky. Well, relatively speaking. And the fact that the parents allowed this is no excuse. Digging up 40 families with more greed than common sense isn't hard.

Oh, yeah, here's the best part: they filmed this thing over 40 days in April and May, i.e. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR! And no one noticed. Oh, and for legal purposes they declared it a summer camp. Early summer, this year, isn't it?

I understand there are bad parents everywhere, and corporations are by definition immoral. But I don't understand why a nation would allow its children to be exploited and abused. The least they can do is forbid the broadcast, fine CBS and have DCFS review each one of the families that participated. The charges? Child endangerment, child neglect, child abuse and violation of child labor laws.

And get a load of this pearl of wisdom, courtesy of a CBS representative:

Mr. Anschell also said that state labor laws did not apply. “The children were not employed under the legal definition,” he said. “They were not receiving set wages for performing specific tasks or working specific hours.”

Isn' that slavery, then? Well, not really, because Mr. Anschell is lying. The kids received a stipend of 5,000 USD for their participation, and could earn a gold star for each episode, worth 20,000 USD each. The excuse that the kids weren't doing a specific task, just surviving and acting, or that they were not working specific hours, just from dawn to dusk, seems a little thin.

Disagree? Hey, sign up your kids for Kid Nation 2.

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