By Chez Pazienza: I'll try to make this quick.
Not a day goes by that some lunatic blowhard on Fox News or right-wing talk radio isn't shouting about American exceptionalism and our lack of willingness to obnoxiously preach it to an international community which doesn't give a damn how highly we think of ourselves. Just last week, a segment on Fox that quite simply had to stand as one of the most ridiculous things the network has ever aired -- and that's saying something -- whined that our Olympic athletes weren't showing enough patriotism at the London Summer Games because their uniforms didn't feature stars, stripes, a NASCAR logo, an image of Lee Greenwood brandishing an AR-15 assault rifle and a pair of truck balls dangling from the crotch. The guy making the accusation, a radio host on Sirius XM's "Patriot Channel" -- because, of course -- actually claimed that we weren't being jingoistic enough and that this was a bad thing, given that jingoism is something that should be looked upon in a positive light and doesn't immediately call to mind the last asshole in the world you want to be stuck next to at a bar on a Saturday afternoon.
Here's the thing, though: American exceptionalism is a bunch of crap.
No, I'm not going to make my case by citing our life-expectancy, our infant mortality rate, our educational standing in comparison to the rest of the civilized world, our median household income, the number of our citizens who are behind bars, any of that -- though it would be easy.
I'm simply going to tell you to look at this:
If you can sit through even 30 seconds worth of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo -- the newest addition to TLC's already packed line-up of sideshow rejects, lost souls, bottom feeders, cultural outliers and chromosomal abnormalities -- and still think we're the greatest nation on the planet, you're as dumb as the people whose lives the show unapologetically documents. For the mercifully uninitiated, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a spinoff of the TLC series that's already been widely established as the nadir of American televised entertainment, Toddlers & Tiaras. Apparently, among all the human flotsam that's come and gone among the kiddie porn pageant circuit TLC's kept careful watch on for the past few years, six-year-old Alana Thompson and her family really stand out: As a whole they're grotesquely overweight, comically uneducated, borderline racist and, as expected in the age of reality TV, not the least bit ashamed of any of it -- rather they're proud as could be of who they are and they're more than happy to allow TLC to broadcast their antics to the world.
I know I should probably just let it go and accept the fact that one more idiotic show like this means a whole shitload more great bits from Joel McHale on The Soup. I get that Tod Browning's apparently been the program director at TLC -- remember, what used to be "The Learning Channel" -- for years now and it shouldn't surprise anyone that this kind of show exists on the network. I completely understand that when placed in a schedule that includes hoarders, sexual deviants, the coupon obsessed, mediums, Mormon polygamists, gypsies, the world's smallest children, the Duggars and, soon, conjoined sisters -- essentially, a girl with two heads -- Honey Boo Boo should barely stand out. But at some point you give up trying to reconcile our rabid contention that we're the greatest country the planet has ever seen with the fact that our idea of entertainment is sitting on a couch rubbernecking at the various genetic mistakes that six generations of inbreeding has produced. At this rate it's only a matter of time before TLC just sets up a bunch of cameras in an Alabama Wal-Mart and broadcasts live, Big Brother-style.
Look, you can watch Honey Boo Boo and her grotesque family all you want. Watch the show until the cows come home -- or until the mother cow on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo explains how farting can help you lose weight and how a vagina looks like a biscuit from Hardee's. Have at it -- it's completely within your rights as an American. But what you can't do is watch this kind of abortion and complain that America isn't taken seriously around the world anymore and that we need to be more in-your-face about how special and better than everyone else we are.
Because when you chant "USA! USA! USA!" this is what you're talking about now: Honey Fucking Boo Boo.
This is America in the year 2012. And we're not exceptional. We're just stupid.