Thursday, October 11, 2007

Reality TV - Kid Nation

Who should be voted off the town council?
Anjay 8 (3.0%)
Laurel 4 (1.5%)
Mike 11 (4.2%)
Taylor 240 (90.9%)
. . . as of 11:00 a.m. Link to this poll: [ ]
I'll admit it; I watch reality tv. I watch some reality tv. I was getting pretty jaded until this summer when CBS started promoting their new big idea; Kid Nation. The premise is simple; fourty kids, fourty days, no adults, old west ghost town, standard reality show competitons. Wait, how can they compete and film without adults?

Hrm, well ok, for insurance purposes and filming purposes and perhaps safety; there are adults, off camera. Except that is, for the moderator of the town's challenges. He's a bona fide adult from all appearances. So, the question is; Can kids between the ages of eight and fifteen manage their own town and do a better job than we adults?

Wait, let's add some real-world (pun accidental) scenarios. For example; this week the kids were challenged to think about their faith and beliefs. Their town council has an "old diary" written by former citizens telling the Kid Council what worked and more importantly what lead to the town's demise in the old west. It was suggested that the Kid Nation might wish to consider leaning upon their faith and it's practices a little bit when times get tough. The Kid Council immediately saw the
challenges this suggestion would present; differing beliefs, differing opinions about practicing in a homogeneous town, inclusion verses exclusion and so forth.

The Kid Council's decision was to hold an homogeneous service and set a time without a lot of on camera discussion with their fellow Kid Citizens. This decision was met with active resistance and the classic reverse protest; do not show up at the appointed time. Except for the town philosopher Michael, more about Michael later.

On the other hand, most Kid Citizens expressed a desire for the comfort of their faith in these trying frontier times. Morgan, a fourteen year old with a well developed sense of compassion and fair play, came up with the solution; invite Kid Citizens to join her at a bonfire for prayer. No conditions, no compulsion. Worked like a charm. For her efforts and a consistent pattern of seeing the universalism path which benefits the greater good, she was awarded the "Gold Star" this week. A two pound gold paperweight-ish looking star worth it's weight in real moolah. $20,000 to be exact.

As an anthropology student, Kid Nation has been a fascinating experiment in micro-culture. Contrived, yes. Surprising, you bet! Give a random sampling of forty kids the choice between a miniature golf course and more spiritual texts than a Ph.d can read in a lifetime, what would you expect they would choose - the golf course, right? Nope, these Kid Citizens not only chose the spiritual guidance but then some began a comparative study of them!

I sincerely hope this group stays in contact with each other. I hope their parents appreciate this very unique opportunity for their children to learn how to deal with social concerns at a young age. I fervently hope the lessons in decision making, compromise and independence verses the greater good propel the remaining 37 kids into careers where they can make a tangible difference.

P.S. That poll up there is linked to a column written from a more cynical point of view. Presumably and adult. Let's see what happens tonight . . .


hooligan said...

What happened to more about Michael? Glad to see you are still watching reality t.v. HA!