Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 27, 2012

Gary's World: Goodbye Andy, hello Honey Boo Boo

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

CROSSVILLE — Of all the crooners there ever were, my mother simply adored Andy Williams most of all. For some reason the song "Moon River" kept popping into my head Tuesday. Off and on all day. Then, I heard early Wednesday morning that Andy had passed away after battling cancer for about a year.

I remember reading a story last Christmas time about Andy having cancer and that for health reasons he wouldn't be singing or hosting his annual Christmas show.

"Moon River" was THE signature Andy Williams song. Anytime I hear that song, anywhere I am, I'll always think of my mom. Hearing the song makes me miss her. Mom passed away in 2003.

All through the 1960s, '70s and even the '80s, when I still lived at home, if there was an Andy Williams special on TV — it was on in our living room. We always watched the Andy Williams Christmas shows and any of the Andy Williams shows.

Andy Williams always makes me think of Christmas, to this day.

That was back in the days when there was only one TV in a house, maybe two if there was an old, spare black and white TV around.

Oh, kids and young adults, there once was a time when the parents ruled their homes and televisions and they decided what was watched on the TV.

Nowadays, so many families are split up in different rooms of the house watching whatever they want on TVs, computers and handheld devices. We live in the age of 24/7 news, TV and information handed to us on a silver platter. Just how much of this so-called news or programming is really important? TV stars' marital lives and Snooki's baby don't mean a thing to me. I don't want to hear about that stuff 24/7.

It's no wonder that I love to watch TV Land and reruns of older, classic TV shows. It occurred to me recently that so many of the new TV shows are supposed to be "reality" based. But, on whose reality are they based? Society's?

One network is milking the cash cow on these so-called reality shows.

TLC, the acronym used to stand for The Learning Channel, is owned by Discovery Communications. It used to be a great source of educational programming up until the mid-1990s, and then, things started to change.

Due to lower ratings, the network began to experiment with decorating and reality-based shows. By 1998 they dropped The Learning Channel name and began to call it TLC.

Some of the more strange and bizarre TV shows on television are on TLC. In my opinion it is like the modern-day version of the freak show at the circus.

Shows like "Toddlers and Tiaras," "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," "Sister Wives" and "Breaking Amish" are simply ridiculous.

To me, it seems like people must be watching these shows to make fun of the characters and feel better about themselves. I just read a story today where TLC announced it has ordered additional episodes of the hit series "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

Honey Boo Boo is a six-year-old girl who was on "Toddlers and Tiaras" and whose rural Georgia family was offered its own TV show. In fact, the more the show was trashed by critics, the higher the ratings climbed.

The characters are as unconventional and redneck as you can imagine. In one episode, mamma gives Honey Boo Boo some "go-go juice" which is Red Bull and Mountain Dew mixed together.

"Alana and her family have become a pop-culture phenomenon," Amy Winter, general manager of TLC, said in a statement released to PEOPLE. "What you see is what you get, and we are excited to share even more of their unbridled hilarity, sincerity and love with our viewers."

In the PEOPLE article, the TLC folks say that Honey Boo Boo fans will be able to "celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with the Georgia family, who will appear in three 'HOLLAday' specials."

I guess if Honey Boo Boo's family is a pop-culture phenomenon, then I am hopelessly so far out of reality that I will never find my way back.

It pains me to admit that shows about people who think its OK to be married to four women, or laugh at people for acting like rude, crude imbeciles, or laugh at people who are miserable and suffering while they try to make a living in a big city, but have no experience living in the real world, are successful.

I mean "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" attracted more than three million viewers in its short-run first half season? That, to me, is very troubling. It speaks volumes about the state of our society. If characters like this are highly celebrated, then I weep for our future generations.

I guess the death of Andy Williams is just another sign of the times, signaling that classy, family TV and entertainment are from the days gone by.

I'm not saying all of TV is bad. There are some TV shows that have redeeming social value and offer true entertainment, but they are few and far between.

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Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com.