Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ice Moms: This is a Very Bad Idea

So, as it turns out, the show "Kids on Ice" will not really be called "Kids on Ice." Guess what they're really calling it? "Ice Moms." Are you shocked? I'm not shocked.

Read about it here.

I've been reading various mom and culture blogs about the notions of the shows "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "Dance Moms" as Exploitative Child Abuse, and I have to say that, after some thought, I agree with this notion.

But, Skate Mom, aren't Child Abuse and Exploitation strong words to be using?

Nope. Here's why, and here's why you should not watch the upcoming Lifetime travesty "Ice Moms":

You know your figure skating child. You know how many hours they spend in lessons, in practice, doing the same move, over and over. You know how frustrated they get when they get stuck on something. You know how much heart they put into competing, how much they want to win. Agreed, emotions and tensions can run high. The Good Moments are really Good, and sharing them with the world can be a great High.

But, consider this: Imagine your child suffering a devastating loss. When Stitch was in that dressing room, berating himself for an all-too-human lapse in memory, nearly in tears, how horrible would it have been to stick a TV Camera in his face and show this agonizing process for all the world? And do you really believe my positive encouragement would have made it past the editors? Or, looking to make me a monster in search of ratings, they showed only my strong words of "get over it, focus on next time," and left my words of love and encouragement on the cutting room floor?

Imagine your daughter throwing her heart into passing that Freestyle test, giving it her all, and coming up short. You've seen the tears. You've held the little sobbing body. Now, invite a TV Camera to join in. And then you can read about how everyone in the process is a total failure in the gossip rags the next day. How does that sound?

How would you feel if, during a time when you were at your worst, felt your most low, someone, without your permission, authorized a TV camera to show up and broadcast your agony? And there was nothing you could do to stop it?

That's what these kids are being subjected to, and I consider it abusive.

Part of my Parenting Philosophy is to remember how hard it is sometimes to be a child. When I remember some of my "Hard Moments" as a child, I am sickened at the notion of someone putting that on TV.

But that's not my only opinion:

I think this show is going to do nothing but solidify the Mythology surrounding this sport that keeps many from being involved: That you Figure Skate Competitively or you're wasting your time. The Recreational Figure Skater, as I predicted, will have no place in this show, and that's a crying shame. It's leaving out the Adults as the Friendliest Folks at the Rink, the Older Teens who knock you dead during Ice Shows, the Synchro Girls with their snappy swishes of skates moving in unison. Nope. No place here.

We want Singles, and we want them with an "Explosive Dynamic!"

I think this show will give what the general public expects of Figure Skating: The Miniature Dynamo with Unlimited Funds, with the Pushy Coach and a Starry Eyed Mom who misses the entire point of Parenting.

It will not, in any way, present the wonderful positives that can come from learning and excelling in a challenging sport for the Average Kid and their Average Family.

Folks, I'm asking you to Boycott TV Shows that get their ratings from Child Exploitation. This means "Toddlers and Tiaras," "Dance Moms," and yes, "Ice Moms." If someone wants to stuff their house full of crap and eat couch cushions ("Hoarders", "My Weird Addiction") that's their business. They aren't hurting anyone but themselves.

But to put a child's delicate and developing psyche on public display is an egregious offense. I'm calling on USFSA and ISI to come out against crap like this. I have no issue with people raising their children to be Competitive Figure Skaters if that's a shared objective. What I have a problem with is exposing them to the harsh judge and jury that is Reality TV.

Do not watch. Boycott.


  1. You tell em. So true.

    Capcha was "Puppets"

  2. I agree with a lot of what you're saying here. This show won't capture the best parts of figure skating -- the dedication, the amazing people, the fact that mostly it's a sane community. Anyone with a shred of integrity wouldn't participate in this show.

    That said, I'm not sure this is any more exploitative than any other tv show that involves kids. The Brady Bunch, The Osmonds, Different Strokes, Facts of Life, Full House... they all involved children, some of whom had a really hard time because of their involvement, some ended up doing great. Same could be said for any child entertainer -- Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears -- either good or bad can come of it. To me, the coaches and families in this show are entertainers, not athletes, and they're assuming the same risk as entertainers always do.

    Never in a million years would I let my family be involved in the show and I would immediately dump any coach involved in it. But I'll watch it. I don't expect it to be that big of deal. If after watching it, I find I'm wrong, I'll be happy to take back everything I've said here. I'm surprisingly good at admitting when I'm wrong.

    (Of note: I really enjoy this blog and respect the opinion offered in this post. I'm not picking a fight at all, just expressing an opinion.)

  3. I know you're not ying to pick a fight, and I welcome opinions!

    I'm glad you brought up TV Shows with kids in them and other child actors, because this is another hot topic for kids in Reality TV. Child Actors are protected by Actor's Equity and/or Screen Actor's Guild. There are very strict rules in place regarding a child's hours, breaks, education requirements and general welfare. In addition, these kids will be protected by the labor laws of the state they are in, if there's any on the books for children.

    Kids on Reality TV don't share these protections, which makes the show especially lucrative for the producers. With no rules to follow, no unions to deal with, it's Anything Goes! And since the kids are legal minors, they can't object once their parents signed that contract.

    The Gosselin Family filmed in PA, where there were very few laws regarding children and labor. Rumor had it that these kids were being tailed by Cameras upwards of ten hours a day while their parents' marriage fell apart. Objectors were calling their state legislators to change the laws and protect the Gosselin children, but the show collapsed and thankfully Madame Skunkhair is gone now.

    Imagine a competitive Figure Skater, who already likely has a very demanding schedule, and then add TV filmers looking for the perfect shot. It's going to be too much. This show is going to be a disaster.

    If someone wants to make a real TV Show about Figure Skating, they'd pick an Average Family for a month and feature them for that month. Rotate the kids, families, coaches and rinks to reflect the real variety and richness that comes with Figure Skating. I'd welcome a show like that.

  4. "If someone wants to make a real TV Show about Figure Skating..."

    I highly recommend watching "Ice Diaries" on Youtube. The show was taped before the Olympics, I think two times ago. It featured Bebe Liang, Danielle Kahle, a girl whose name I couldn't remember- who actually quit before nationals, and Alissa Czisny. None of these girls were actual favorites for the Olympics, but Bebe and Alissa had an outside chance. Obviously, none of them made it...

    That was a good reality show featuring skaters, and the reality of what it is to be a skater. In preparing for nationals, one skater increased her workout regime, one got make up advice... The second got a lot of criticism on the internet, but it's true- they do that.

    The only thing with it is that it distorted the timeline a bit. I remember Czisny getting a ton of criticism for going to the GPF that year because "what's the point of going on a trip just to finish last". Viewers didn't understand finishing last at the GPF is an honor, just because you are there- and it was made to look like it was the weekend before Nationals, thus affecting her training, and contributing to her poor results.

    So even the reality shows that portray things well still do weird things in the editing.

    I've also thought MTV's "MADE" has done a decent job with the few kids who have been made into skaters- including a few boys.

  5. Skate Mom -- Wow! I had no idea about the differences between scripted and reality television. Appreciate the info, it definitely will give me a different frame of reference when watching tv. (I'll still probably watch Ice Moms though. I know! I know! Bad Michelle!)

    Jessim -- I saw one of those MTV Made episodes about figure skating. I think you're right, they had some drama, but it wasn't over-the-top. I wish there had been more focus on the skating part in the episode I watched, but the story focused more on the girl's laziness. Oh well...the coach was cute. ;-)