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Here comes a lot of judgment: Honey Boo Boo as a site of reclamation and resistance

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Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (2012-) is a gleeful spectacle of a show, filled with fat bellies, loud bodies, messy food and laughter. As much parody as ‘reality’ TV, the show profiles a southern US family as emblematic ‘rednecks’ and invites viewers to watch, laugh and judge. Yet in the depths of this heavily mediated version of southern American family life, there are strong messages about bodies, about class and about motherhood, and the ways that in transgressing dominant discourses, Honey Boo Boo unwittingly moves beyond farce and instead presents a strong critique of normativity. This article seeks to expose the dominant tropes of the show, especially in relation to three areas: class, fat, and maternity. In exposing the messaging of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the ways that the show’s narrative both maintains and resists dominant discourses, the show can be seen as an example of resistance and reclamation. Drawing on analyses of white trash culture and presentations of fat bodies, as well as the emergent field of freak studies, the article positions Here Comes Honey Boo Boo within a broader analysis of reality TV that suggests a new phase in our consumption of difference and the fluid and disruptive boundaries of the ‘normal’.
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Keywords: fat studies; freak studies; grotesque bodies; motherhood; reality TV; ‘white trash’

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ryerson University School of Social Work

Publication date: April 1, 2014

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