After reading about E's new reality series, Pretty Wild, about a Playmate mother and her playmate/jewel thief daughters I was filled with my usual mix of emotions that surface every time I learn of a new reality show filled with shallow lowlifes: anger/ depression/fear (fear of the future, fear of the present, fear of getting sucked into said show during an innocent trip to the gym). When I find myself getting too worked up over the popularity of trashy reality television, and shudder at its potential influence on my children or the culture at large, I remind myself that some of these shows are valuable learning tools of "what not to be." Don't get me wrong, I don't want my kids* to watch this stuff, but if they do, why not use it to my advantage? I dedicate several pages in my book, Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation, to this very topic. I remind my readers that if you walk in and your child is watching a disgusting reality show (Jersey Shore comes to mind) instead of sprinting to shut it off, shouting, "This isn't appropriate!" A better choice might be to walk in, look at the television for a beat, and then proclaim something along the lines of, "What the hell is this...seven people showering together? They might as well be scrubbing themselves with a loofa full of Gonorrhea!" Then, instead of shutting off the TV, you leave it on and just walk out of the room, allowing the shame and guilt to wash over them like a tidal wave. At the end of the day, your kids might watch that trashy show again, but they'll never be on that trashy show, and that's all you really care about.
*I use the term "my kids" very loosely, since my children are only 4 and 2 and this is not currently an issue -- if my tiny kids were regularly watching Jersey Shore, our problems would be much larger than the scope of this blog post!