The Launch of the Beck Youth
We’re doomed, so Glenn’s going to teach tykes survival skills with the help of Ted Nugent? History with Barton? arrrrggh.
But when Beck announced that his new network would feature a kid’s show, Talking Points Memo advised its readers to “hide your children.” And, with good reason—Glenn Beck has often crusaded against impressionable children, including comparing victims in the Norway attack with Hitler youth, suggesting that wealth should be a key factor in educational opportunities, and, of course, chiding Sesame Street for “spreading left-wing propaganda.”
After watching the show’s first week of episodes, it’s clear that the actual product isn’t just devoid of Beck’s usual mania—it’s downright dull.
Beck has passed hosting duties to Nair, a young man with the non-threatening enthusiasm of a broadcast journalism major. Nair has adopted Beck’s exaggerated hand gestures, but is more covert about his politics, preferring instead to engage in dim talk about standing by your principles.
When Beck asked Nair in a pre-launch interview what he was passionate about, he hesitated and said, “Injustices…” while shaking his head back and forth. That’s a conundrum for Fox News’ body language analysts to puzzle over, but it certainly doesn’t make for great TV, even online.
In a way, the show’s ideological castration makes sense.
If a child has parents willing to fork over $9.99 a month for the premium GBTV package, they’re probably getting fairly large doses of Fox News, conservative talk radio, and Ayn Rand at home. All Treehouse has to do, then, is activate them with vague talk about beliefs, principles, and kid power.
Even simply shifting the focus onto politics, to a degree, marks a notable difference from children’s programming of years past, which regularly avoided controversial subject matter. And some question the move.
“I can’t think of an area that we stayed further away than politics,” Helen Boehm, an expert on educational children’s programming who has worked at both Fox Broadcasting and MTV Networks/Nickelodeon, told Politico recently.