Pretty much steered clear of the whole "Honey Boo Boo" thing up until now.
At first, it was because my mother taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. But, let's face it, while my mother did teach me that, clearly it didn't stick. Which, if you're going to write a column, is just as well.
Still, I stayed away from the subject of the child who's captured the attention of the country for her exuberance, her family and her penchant for phrases like "You'd better redneckognize."
Part of the avoidance of the TLC reality show topic was because I don't watch "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." I saw maybe two minutes of an episode out of pure curiosity for what everyone's been talking about. And everyone really has been talking about it from late-night talk-show hosts to radio DJs, morning-show anchors, newspaper columnists and pretty much anyone on the street at any given time.
In that two minutes, I was not swayed to tune in again.
In case you've just awoken from a coma and haven't picked up a gossip rag or logged onto the Huffington Post yet, Honey Boo Boo is a 7-year-old girl with personality to spare who lives with we're going with "colorful" here her colorful family in Georgia.
Honey Boo Boo makes her mark in reality TV thanks to her involvement in the toddler beauty pageant scene via TLC's other crowning societal achievement, "Toddlers and Tiaras."
Reality TV and the toddler beauty pageant scene: new meaning to the idea of a double negative.
While the world has been abuzz about Honey Boo Boo, I've just felt sorry for the little girl, also known by her given name, Alana Thompson. This has been a train wreck in the making that I just don't have the heart to stop and watch.
Alana has been thrust into the national spotlight at an almost shockingly young age. She clearly has basked in it, but just about any extroverted child would.
It's what it all might mean for the girl when she's a teenager or young adult that's scary and hard to view. There's plenty of precedent in our celebrity-obsessed culture to suggest it might not go well for her down the road.
Every interview I've seen of Alana and her family shows the same thing: Alana lights up like a precocious little Christmas tree, mugging for the cameras when the focus is on her. But when the conversation moves to her mom, she immediately checks out, slumping in her chair, looking bored and bothered.
OK, so that behavior's not completely out of the ordinary for a 7-year-old. But it's so pronounced that it gives you pause.
According to Web reports earlier this week, Alana may be turning in her precociousness for petulance. Stories detailed an interview the girl and her mom filmed with "Dr. Drew" in which she checked out, even when the attention was on her.
Stories indicated that she "appeared cranky, uninterested ... Alana even went as far as to pretend to have fallen asleep, while snoring loudly in Dr. Drew's face when he attempted to ask her a few questions about being a TV star."
Also, she announced that "fans come up to me and I hate it."
TLC and Alana's parents mom in particular get a lot of heat for what's been called exploitation of the child. Let's not even get into the whole "go-go juice" issue.
Not to mention the idea of dressing up a little, little girl like a Broadway diva and having her sashay across a stage like Gypsy Rose Lee just before the gloves come off.
But I digress.
It might be best for Alana to put her own brakes on this celebrity thing before she gets old enough to spin out of control. But odds are that the Dr. Drew incident will be an anomaly and Honey Boo Boo will be back on the spotlight trail as soon as you can say "paycheck."
But doesn't our pop-culture society, our ever-ballooning fishbowl fascination, have equal parts of the blame in any conceivable exploitation here?
A lot of the debate surrounding "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is over just whom the joke is on, anyway. The Thompson family is the free-for-all fodder for every stand-up comedian or Johnny Carson wanna-be working right now. But the public is laughing that family all the way to the bank. Along with TLC, by the way.
In the meantime, little Alana is caught in the middle. The question is, how will all this shape the young woman she'll someday become?
It's a reality story that, sadly, could be on track for an unhappy ending. Maybe not maybe she'll be the most well-adjusted former child celebrity in history. But the possibility for a less positive outcome is there. And that is something no one should want to watch.
Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.