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Why We Love, and Hate, 'Honey Boo Boo'

The new reality show's popularity reveals our cultural weariness and hunger for something more.

Perusing magazines in the grocery checkout line recently, screaming headlines promised all the gritty details about:

  1. The Secretary of State "dirty dancing" with another woman;
  2. (2) Reality show Teen Moms "star" admits to drug abuse in a "tell all" interview; and
  3. (More) of the "inside story" of the affair between the young star of those vampire movies and her (married) director.

As my gaze wanders over the tabloid covers, I become aware of a real-life drama mounting ahead of me. The woman in front of me in line is tossing—you might say flinging—the items she's just unloaded from her cart back into it.

Froot Loops. Diet Sprite. A bag of Red Delicious apples.

She sighs loudly, and when our eyes meet, she nods toward the person in front of her and rolls her eyes with practiced contempt.

The object of her scorn speaks to the cashier with the careful grammar of a person who knows the rules of English well but was not born into a family that speaks it.

"I am sorry," she says. "What is the ...

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