On ''Being Bobby Brown,'' Bobby takes Bobbi Kristina to Boston so she can
get to know her half siblings better, but what the girl needs most is some
time out of the spotlight by Michael Slezak
If there's anyone in America who thinks
celebrities' young kids and reality TV are a winning combination, tonight's
episode of Being Bobby Brown would likely change their mind.
The thing is, the inherent joy of most celebreality programming comes from
getting an inside peek at the lives of, say, Bobby and his wife, Whitney
Houston, or their predecessors (Nick and Jessica, Britney and Kevin) and
realizing that these folks aren't necessarily any brighter, funnier, or more
interesting than you and me. After hearing Jessica ponder the contents of a
can of tuna, or watching Bobby breathe into the screen and wax poetic about
his own ''funkiness of breath'' (or, worse, pretend to eat Whitney's
toenails), most of us can enjoy a hearty, guilt-free chuckle, followed by a
deep sense of thankfulness that our own families and friends are far better
— and more appetizing — company. After all, there's no need to feel any
remorse ridiculing people who gladly invite camera crews to follow their
every move in exchange for increased publicity and a fat paycheck.
(Especially not at moments like the one where Whitney drops the bombshell on
her husband that the song he's recording is a blatant ripoff of SWV's 1992
hit ''Right Here.'')
But when an episode centers on a celebrity's kids — in this case, little
Bobbi Kristina and half sister LaPrincia — the laughter doesn't come so
easy. I'm not going to pretend I don't get a little squeamish seeing a kid
as young as B.K. throw her money around on their Boston shopping expedition
like a jaded Paris Hilton clone, but those sad, shifting eyes of hers tell a
far different story — one of an insecure preteen whose most awkward years
are being sold to a national audience to keep her dad's singing career half
afloat. When LaPrincia offhandedly notes that she's ''not into the whole
shopping thing,'' it's clear she's trying to send a message to her younger,
less savvy sibling that the whole conspicuous-consumption act might not be
in her best interests, let alone play well in front of a national audience.
Sadder still, B.K. doesn't seem to get an ounce of joy from her spending
extravaganza. When she drops her bills on the Urban Outfitters' checkout
counter, her expression is one of stony resignation. ''She thinks she's
35,'' says LaPrincia, only half-joking.
But she most certainly isn't. By episode's end, B.K. is in full tantrum
mode, demanding her dad's phone and refusing to speak to LaPrincia, yet when
Bobby tells her she's ''not going to walk around alone,'' he fails to see
the irony that with a mike pack on her back and a camera guy 10 feet behind
her, solitude is relative.
I'll say this much for Bobby, though: At the height of B.K.'s meltdown, he
shows some good sense, turning to the cameras and sending them away,
hopefully to achieve a moment of genuine father-daughter bonding. Still, for
me as a viewer, the damage is done. Might I suggest to those compelled to
shout, ''Free Bobby Brown!'' out their car windows that a far more
appropriate cry might be ''Free Bobbi Kristina!''
What do you think? Does Bobbi Kristina need some time away from the
spotlight? Did you care about the shrimp cook-off? And who sounded better:
Bobby singing at the Marley brothers' studio or Whitney riffing on SWV and
''Ride Like the Wind''?
NEWSFILE: 11 AUGUST 2005