Saturday, August 18, 2007

The rules don't apply

The Captain comments on this report of CBS skirting child labor laws for their Kid Nation "reality" series.

New Mexico's child protection services are not amused. They have indicated that had they known CBS had set up a residential facility for the children, they would have taken steps to ensure that CBS followed the law. In fact, the network never bothered to contact the Children, Youth and Families Department. The state sent a labor inspector to the set, but the producers didn't allow an inspection to occur, according to New Mexico.

This takes child exploitation back to 1930s Hollywood. Regardless of whether CBS thinks this was some grand sociological experiment, the bottom line is that they had these kids working in harsh and apparently somewhat unsafe conditions for fifteen or more hours a day. They provided little adult supervision -- in fact, that was the point of the production -- and no educational support, even though this took place during a school year.

This is not an isolated occurrence for the entertainment industry. Ignoring laws and regulations that other industries must follow seems to be their norm. I don't know if this is by statute, oversight or bribe, but OSHA and other safety regulations do not apply when entertainment is involved.

The Beyonce video is one example. Improper footwear and a stairway lacking handrails would result in citation and fines from OSHA for my business. But not here, this is entertainment. The ESPN skateboarder dropping 40 feet off the ramp also comes to mind - no tie-offs or fall protection was evident. I don't even know where to begin with professional wrestling.

It is easy to favor intrusive government regulation when the rules don't apply to you. Big Entertainment must be held to the same standards as everyone else.

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