A Modest Proposal for CBS’s “Kid Nation”
Here’s a modest proposal: as soon as our little tykes are weaned, let’s put them in the desert with a bunch of bigger kids and see if anyone, say, drinks bleach on accident. Or dies. Won’t that be amusing? Maybe the kids will gang up into warring factions in a struggle for dominance and kill each other! Won’t that be neat? And if we put it on prime time TV we can all watch!
I really, really wanted to pitch this idea to CBS. I thought it would make an excellent reality TV show. I’m such a fan of TV that I can live happily without one, but I have an entrepreneurial streak a mile wide and after I saw my son reading Lord of the Flies a couple of weeks ago I thought to myself, “Hey! What an idea!”
I got all dressed up in my best lawyer outfit, high heels and makeup and perfectly coiffed hair and all, and grabbed the morning paper as I headed out the door, ready to make a few calls and set up a time to meet with the network executives. I just knew they’d clamor for me to hurry on over with my idea.
My contacts aren’t the bifocal type so I had to wait until I got to the office and found my reading glasses before I could peruse the morning tabloids, though. Once I perched them on the tip of my nose, there it was, to my bleak dismay. Over a half-eaten croissant and a cup of cooling Starbuck’s (a candy bar in a cup is still a candy bar), I saw that my brilliant idea had not only been stolen by some Hollywood thought-thief, but that CBS had already filmed my idea! Kid Nation was already in the can and had attracted its first threatened lawsuit!
There is still hope for me. Suit has not yet been filed. Bereft of my opportunity for reality show fame, I’m sure I can muster the necessary outrage for filing suit on behalf of these kids. I have represented kids for almost 20 years, after all – what’s one more suit on their behalf? And this one will give me great pleasure, because not only will it be against the tormentors of my clients, it will be against the people who publicly and obviously disregarded their best interests.
Did you get that line? “Publicly and obviously disregarded their best interests” – wow, I’m in lawyer mode! Hmmm… what other equally spurious arguments can I come up with to bring this case to dubious justice? Oh! I know! I’ll demand that the press help me investigate how CBS could manage to get the parents of 40 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 to agree to send them to a ghost town for nearly six weeks during the school year with no adult supervision and no classes! I’ll file documents requesting information on how much the children (or their families) were paid for the kids’ participation in this show ($5,000.00 is the figure CBS claims), and then I’ll demand to see documents showing how New Mexico’s and the federal government’s child labor laws were complied with, what with no adults to take care of these kids.
Man, I’m on a roll now! I can hear CBS crying foul in my mind’s ear. I’m just another money-grubbing lawyer trying to get a huge settlement out of the deep pockets of the TV network.
Those eight year olds knew what they were getting into, the corporate lawyers will insist. It will be very hard to refute, because we all know what brilliant negotiators fourth-graders are. “Because I said so” just won’t work with all of them, you know.
When I point out that only one of the kids was 15, and that a dozen of them were aged 10 and under, I’m sure the network will flick away my objections with a disinterested wave of its manicured hand. Younger children probably won’t be as mean as the ones in that famous book by Sir William Golding. In fact, I’m sure that recent news reports that kids aged seven to nine maliciously killed a six year old were grossly exaggerated. After all, those kids were in Canada, were not on a reality TV show, and had not been promised prizes like iPods for their participation.
CBS is likely to claim that there were tons of adults around all the time, and that like on any reality TV show they were quick to get the bleach-drinking kids medical attention. That won’t daunt me in the least, though, because I’ll claim that had those kids been properly supervised they wouldn’t have been drinking bleach in the first place. And when they argue that the 11 year old whose face was burned by cooking grease was doing the same thing 11 year olds do at home every day, I’ll taunt them with “Yeah, well, those 11 year olds are cooking with grease under adult supervision!”
It won’t endear me to the network, but maybe I can win another non-meritorious lawsuit and win a pile of money doing it. I need to maintain the pseudo-integrity of my profession, after all.
And maybe as an extra added bonus I can get some parents to wake up and realize that unsupervised preteens can get seriously hurt, and even (gasp) die if their parents don’t protect them.