The Pint-Size Terror: Honey Boo Boo and What Reality TV Did to Her

1200986170_1351969586Editor’s Note: Though I don’t put the full blame on reality TV, and I believe the mother is fully responsible for the way her child acts, it has had an affect on the “little” reality star’s life. Read this article and see why exactly Honey Boo Boo is a monster.

A few nights ago,  “Toddlers & Tiaras” legend and walking meme Honey Boo Boo graced the stage of studio 6B in Rockefeller Center. Nine-year-old reality TV star Alana Thompson wore an elegantly understated rhinestone leopard print top paired with a matching leopard print skirt. After a quick handshake with host Jimmy Fallon, she chided him for having cold hands. When he asked for a friendship bracelet, she denied him. When he playfully showed off his muscles, she told him, “That’s nothing.” They shared some laughs, and the interview ended with Alana teaching Jimmy a few cheerleading moves. Pretty standard.

If you were watching at home, Honey Boo Boo’s “Tonight Show” appearance was most likely just what you have come to expect from the pint-size pageant queen. She was bubbly, brazen and bouncy. Sure, there were points where she was toeing that fine line between cute and annoying. Overall, though, I imagine her publicist was pleased.

But for the record, what aired on NBC was only part of the madness that went down last Wednesday at “The Tonight Show.” I know this because I was there, and from where I was sitting, Honey Boo Boo — let’s not mince words — was a tiny, dimpled monster.

I ended up at the taping because a friend scored me a last-minute ticket. Even though I tend to have a general distaste for the whole process of live tapings (full disclosure: I used to work in the audience department of a daytime talk show), attending felt like an obvious choice when I saw the lineup: Honey Boo Boo, her mother, Mama June, and none other than legendary broadcast journalist Barbara Walters. There was something intriguing to me about this combination, like dipping a macaron into Cheeto dust. I couldn’t resist.

When I arrived at Rockefeller Center, they placed us in lines, herded us around like sheep being led to the slaughter, and sorted us discretely in order of how attractive we were. (It’s the way the business works.)

Once we were seated, the warm-up comic did some engaging crowd work, the Roots began to play, Jimmy Fallon delivered his monologue, and later chatted with Barbara Walters, who was just wonderful. Suddenly, despite my jaded experience with live tapings, I found myself swept away in the magic of it all. There I was watching “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon on a show that had once been home to the likes of Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson. In that moment, I remembered that television could be a thing of great depth, heritage and meaning.

And then Honey Boo Boo entered. When she first walked out onto the stage, my immediate thought was – of course. Of course she is swinging her arms like that and wearing that leopard print outfit. Of course.

Suddenly I found myself a little bit star-struck. There, before my very eyes, stood Honey Boo Boo – the star of almost all of my favorite GIFs (such as this onethis one and this one). It was one thing to watch this girl strut around on her reality show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” but it was another thing entirely to see her strut in-person. It was almost like watching a cartoon come to life.

This article continues at Salon.com

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