Thursday, October 4, 2007

Kid Nation

It's 2:00am on Wednesday night. I should be asleep. I have work tomorrow. Well, I'm not asleep. Instead I'm typing here. I'm too tired to really make any significant sense. Zoe is asleep. She's out like a light. Her grandma spent the day with her. She'll be doing the same tomorrow and Friday. My mom really loves spending time with Zoe. They play with every toy. They lay a blanket down in every room. They sing every song. They read every book. Zoe will probably be asleep for an entire week after all the stimulation she got today. By the time I got home, Zoe was in a trance. She was sleep-squawking and waving her arms in every direction. She finally calmed down. I held her, walked her around a bit. Calmly, she drifted to sleep.

She's 3 1/2 months old now. She really looks like Jess and Jess' mother. Her forehead looks like me a little bit, but that's it. She's kind of a watcher. She studies people. I think she's gonna be pretty outgoing. That's the vibe I get. She'll be kind of wild. She has ringleader potential, but it's too early to tell.

Jess and I watched "Kid Nation" tonight. It's really funny to see all the kids competing in these challenges, and trying to communicate rationally. The show is kind of wild. Some people feel that it's unethical. I don't think that. I think there's potential for great danger and disaster (if it weren't secretly chaperoned). Ultimately, I think it 's kind of inspirational. It really champions all the different personality recipes that the human race is comprised of. One episode, the hero is a calm orator. In another, its the diligent dishwasher. In a third, it's the courageous cowboy wild-child that becomes the hero. I see these kids do things that I couldn't do now, let alone when I was 8-13. They have their struggles no doubt. They really fight and argue and gang up on each other. The drama of the confrontation always seems to give way to a somewhat reasonable approach to their dilemma. It can seem like their society is a slippery slope (sound familiar). One catastrophe, and all is lost. But that's not likely.

They do a good job of selling the concept of the show. They sell the question, "Can kids be responsible and skillful enough to make a small town work?" The question is cute in itself. The show isn't necessarily true to the question. The show introduces separate working-classes, and frames out a new problem to be solved each week. That's obviously unnatural. I accept it though.

I tend to hate reality shows in general. Because people are hip to them. I like sincerity. Sincerity is interesting to me. Adults are usually insincere in the front of the camera (whether they mean to be or not). But these kids, even though they possess really impressive social intelligence. They're still young enough to not have a very concrete identity. And so they have less to lose, and they put it all on the line. I'm impressed with their leadership ability, and often with their ability to stand up against a large group with an opposing opinion. Anyway, I'm just rambling now.

What I was really saying was, I like to daydream about how Zoe would act if she were on the show. I like to meditate on that question. It's fun. You daydream about how you would want her to be. And in that daydream, you can learn a lot about your personal concept of a hero. You can learn about your concept of social responsibility. Despite its obvious caveats, the show really does a great job of paring down the challenges and conflicts that take place in the larger world.
It's good fun.


Tyler said...

I have only watched about 40 minutes of one episode of "Kid Nation" and I too was intrigued. The one personality that really stuck out to me was the "deal with it!" girl. I know adults with that attitude!

I can tell that it is somewhat contrived and the host really bugs me, but the kids are real. Their interactions and personalities are just slightly less (sometimes more) mature versions of what goes on and exists in the adult world.

Dana commented that for the parents watching their kids on the show it must be in some ways like a mirror on themselves and the family life that their kids grew up in. I wonder if it causes some pride as well as shame or embarassment...

I too look at Max and marvel at the incredible potential that he has. Already he seems so talented to me (a totally unbiased observer. But I can't really fathom what he will be like when he is a teenager, a young adult, a father. Those pages of life are yet to be written of course, but I sense the weight of my responsibility towards him more and more every day. At the same time, I realize that who he is at the core is in some ways completely independent of me. He is who he is and nothing will change that, except him.

My son is a mind-boggling and beautiful little boy who is so playful, yet has also learned how to throw a good tantrum...

Rappster said...

Hi Ty, thanks for the response! I especially agree with your comment about how the kids behavior reflects their home-life. I'm pretty sure I'd be ashamed of myself if I had been on that show as a kid. I would have been completely useless! I'd be the kid that runs around making bizarro statements.
The "Deal With It" girl was amazing! She had so much courage to stand up to the group like that! I respect how she stood behind the Hot Cocoa decision (They had to choose between 40hotpizzas vs. a microwave and a barrel of cocoa). However, she definitely let the power go to her head little bit.