Debating Daily Bumps
So that is the intro to the former Disney Channel and now YouTube vlogging family comprised of Bryan (dad), Missy (mom) and their two boys, Oliver and Finley. I discovered this show through my oldest daughter who somehow found it on YouTube and who will watch episodes endlessly if I don't stage an intervention and remind her of other enjoyable childhood activities like, you know, riding bikes, playing hide and seek with friends or just about anything that requires exiting the house.
Dad's Cynicism is confronted by daughter's innocence
So I will be honest. My original plans for this piece were to dismantle and dismiss Daily Bumps as yet another example of pretentious American entitlement and narcissism. Then I made the mistake of actually asking my daughter why she liked watching the darn show! She of course gave a very innocent and beautiful apologetic. I could recount it for you but why not hear it directly from her. So without further ado, let me welcome our first guest contributor to the Pop Goes the Culture blog and podcast, my eight year old daughter, Melody.
Dad: Hi Melody, how are you doing today?
Dad: Good! So tell me what Daily Bumps is all about?
Melody: It's mostly about family and friends.
Dad: OK, what kinds of things happen in the show?
Melody: Bad things and good things.
Dad: And what would you say you like the most about the show?
Melody: What I like about the show is what family and friends look like together.
Dad: Well thanks for sharing your thoughts Melody. Maybe we can have you come back sometime as a guest contributor on this or another podcast on Dad's website.
Dad: Awesome! OK, bye Mel!
So needless to say, Melody's thoughts softened my opinions of Daily Bumps a bit. They softened even further when I researched some of the background on Bryan and Missy. You see, Missy suffered two tragic miscarriages, later discovering that the cause was a full septum in her uterus that was eventually surgically removed. No wonder this couple wanted to chronicle and share their daily ups and downs of their experiences with Oliver and Finley. And at least the show doesn't feature some ridiculously dysfunctional family like that of TLC's mercifully cancelled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Sidebar: T.L.C. stands for The LEARNING Channel? What exactly are we learning from the majority of the crap they air? I guess back in the day it used to be different, but I wonder if a name change to something like "Tabloid TV" might be in order.
OK, back to Daily Bumps. So do I think there is some truth to my initial assessment? Yes. The dominant question in my mind as I watched some of the shows was, "What the heck do these people do for a living!?" This is it? They literally record themselves playing all day doing things I probably wouldn't be able to afford to do but on a semi-annual basis. What impact does this have on our expectations of life? And for someone with my background, having spent considerable time working with some of the poorest and most oppressed people on planet earth (refugees), "reality" shows like this show an alarming disconnect from the realities of a whole lot of people out there and it screams American white privilege. What does the "Daily Bumps" look like for the poor and disenfranchised? At the same time, this family does seem like the kind of people I wouldn't mind having as neighbors. They are fun and loving...aaaand they have a kick-ass pool which is always a bonus with friendly neighbors. Which leads to my final question: How can American's in their entertainment celebrate the best of what Bryan, Missy, Oliver and Finley have to offer without forgetting those whose daily struggles can't be edited down into a catchy theme song and a more pleasing and comfortable distraction?