Wednesday, 4 February 2009

If The Medium Is The Message, What Is Toddlers & Tiaras Trying To Say?

I read an article in the Globe & Mail this morning about a St. Catherine's student who has started a facebook group to get the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras removed. The basic premise of the show is following a group of small children go through their ups and downs of participating in kid pageants.

Having watched the show for context, I also found it offensive on a number of different levels the least of which is seeing a 4 year old in high heels, full make up a bikini shimming her stuff on stage. But TV being TV, my attitude has always been that I can just turn it off. If I don't like it, I won't watch it. I'm not big on censorship unless it constitutes hate which i don't believe is the case here.

But this is where the medium IMO plays a role. TV is a passive medium. I'm watching something that is edited, scripted and in general controlled. But what happens when that show has a website. And worse what happens when that website actually asks the audience - that's you and me - to participate ACTIVELY in judging these children.

Well that is exactly what is happening over at TLC's website. They have functionality where you and I can actually view and vote. In their words:

"You be the judge. Rate these pageant contestants"

Here's the problem. These aren't just any pageant contestants. These are children. Regardless of what I might think of the entire pageant industry, I don't think it's the same as you and I rating these children. And look at this photo...

Not one of these kids has made it past 5 out of 10. If the medium is the message, what do we think that the Toddlers & Tiara's website is trying to say?

Whether I like the show again, is besides the point. I don't believe in censorship but i think functionality like this goes way to far. These aren't adults who have consciously decided to be on American Idol. These are children.

What do you think?

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