“Kids Nation” promised to be an interesting experiment – children rebuilding a community all by themselves. I looked forward to the first episode with great expectations.
The first few days the children struggled with all the obstacles before them with amazing endurance and cooperation, through tears and homesickness they were determined to show what they could do. They struggled with the carts laden with Goods pulling them on a dirt road to the town where they found very little to comfort them. They grumbled a bit but they helped and supported each other all the way. Most impressive they kept their eye on the common goal – to rebuild this town by themselves. However by about the third day the producers gave them direction through an old book to divide into four groups if they wanted to make this town work. They made their choices fairly and they all accepted the choices without complaint. That was indeed an accomplishment. The direction from the book in itself was not alarming because they did at least pick the groups even if an outside force told them what to do.
After they divided into groups of green, yellow, blue and red, “us and them” was introduced and the eye was no longer on the common goal as it once was before the groups were formed.
A day or so later I was disgusted when the producers introduced a person who called them all to a meeting. They were told (not asked) they would participate in a contest and the winners would win places in society. They would have shops and the saloon would be open – selling root beer and other such beverages. Each class would be paid different wages, Upper Class $1.00, Merchants $.50, Cooks $.25, and laborers $.10.
The challenge was moving around something that looked like an oil-well to pipes located in the ground that had to be found by a map, then once found a hose was inserted and they had to catch the water and put it into three bottles the first to fill the bottles were the winners. If they all finished the contest within the time frame then they won another prize that could be shared.
The Red Group was first, Blue was second, yellow was third and Green was fourth. They all finished in time so they were presented with their communal prize, but they had to choose between two. One was seven(think it was seven maybe six) new outhouses or one TV. Since they only had one outhouse they chose well when they selected the outhouses.
The appointed council at the beginning of the show had been given a solid gold star worth twenty thousand dollars to give to the person they felt most deserved it. They did so at the town council meeting and their choice was amazingly fair. Then it was announced that each week a child would be chosen. That was it for the first show.
The producers destroyed everything that could have been achieved by these kids, when they added their own view of what society is – “us and them”, “greed”, their idea of “class” and what they think each “class” is “worth”, squashing what the kids believed they were there for – to be part of something great. These young children have not been given the opportunity to build this community themselves. Their enthusiasm, determination and pure intentions have been corrupted by adults whose intention to make the show “more interesting” has dismissed the promise to do it by themselves. This show is nothing more than another version of “Survivors”. The children are being encouraged to turn on each other and think only of themselves.
I believe that the changes made by the producers are detrimental to these young children. No longer are their experiences based on their decisions and ideas. They are being set up to have conflicts and experience great pain and frustration and none of it is due to their plan of action. If you have an idea and act upon it or make a decision and the results are not positive you grow from it. These children are being manipulated and I fear some will be hurt from this experience. I am appalled and disappointed. And I feel sorry for those brave kids who started with a great dream, bravery and determination. I believe they could have done it by themselves – shame on the producers.