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Lord of the Flies

lordFlies.jpgCBS has a slightly controversial reality show slated for its new fall schedule, “Kid Nation.” In a nutshell, the network created a real world Lord of the Flies-type situation, dumping 40 kids (between the ages of 8 and 15) into a New Mexico ghost town without any adults. The kids spent a month-and-a-half there, trying to create a functioning society without any adults their big grown-up hands in the way. And while the show has yet to air, the legal issues are starting up.

First, the mother of Divad Miles (a participant on the show) has filed a complaint with the state of New Mexico, alleging that Divad’s experience was abusive and neglectful. The letter cites an incident where Divad burnt her hand with hot grease, and another incident where some of the kids accidentally drank bleach. To Divad’s mother, I pose this question: “Please explain how, exactly, letting your kid run off to compete on a reality show where they’re stuffed into a labor camp for 40 days isn’t abuse and neglect on your part?” I love the modern trend of parents shifting the blame off on everyone else.

The second issue CBS has to deal with, however, is a bit more serious and less about blame just being tossed around. Romaine Serna, who works for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, says that CBS almost surely violated state laws, especially considering the fact that her department was never contacted by CBS when any of the alleged abusive incidents took place. CBS, of course, says the state knew what the deal was and that a state labor department inspector even made unannounced trips to the set. But a state spokesman says that the inspector wasn’t actually allowed on set when they showed up. CBS ignores this point, but also says that it called the state attorney general’s office and was never told that it wasn’t in compliance with the law. Which, actually, is just more blame-shifting: “Well, they didn’t tell us we were breaking the law, so it’s all their fault!”

Admittedly, I know very little about this beyond what’s in the New York Times piece, but I’d certainly wager that CBS broke some laws with regard to all of this. And they know it. But they also knew this show would be controversial and two simple equations ruled the day on this one:

Controversy = Ratings = Ad Revenue

and

Ad Revenue > Legal Fees

Gotta love Hollywood.

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Comments

Didn't Jamie Kennedy do a sketch about this a few years back?