By Michael Slezak
Updated August 20, 2007 at 08:17 PM EDT
Credit: Kid Nation: Monty Brinton

It’s time for a PopWatch PopQuiz:

1) Mother attaches a rope to 11-year-old child’s foot, dangles child over a pit of hungry mountain lions, and returns an hour later to discover that the child has severe scratches on its face. Who should be held responsible for the child’s injuries?

2) Mother places 11-year-old child on the back of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, gives horse a slap on the rump, watches him take off at 30 MPH; child falls to the ground, bruising arm and face. Who should be held responsible for the child’s injuries?

3) Mother sends 11-year-old child to New Mexico for six weeks as part of CBS reality series Kid Nation, in which 40 youngsters create their own society without any adult supervision (save for production and camera crews, naturally); child accidentally burns face in the kitchen with spattered grease. Who should be held responsible for the child’s injuries?

addCredit(“Kid Nation: Monty Brinton”)

Okay, so you see where I’m going with this? According to a story in the New York Times this weekend, the mother of a Kid Nationcast member sent a letter to her local sheriff’s office asking for an”investigation into issues of child abuse, neglect and endangerment”surrounding the show’s production. But maybe this woman should’veconsidered reporting herself to the authorities, seeing thatshe abandoned her preteen child to the loving arms of networktelevision. In the middle of the school year. I won’t argue with folkswho insist the entire concept of Kid Nation is creepy and ill-advised, but it takes a village of 40 parents to raise a child-exploiting reality series. And for what?
Thepossibility of winning one of a handful of the show’s $20,000 “GoldStars”? The pride of reminding neighbors and relatives to set theirDVRs for the very special episode where little Giana mistakenly drinksbleach from a soda bottle? (Such a horror actually occurred on set,says the Times.) Or maybe it’s the chance at your childachieving “breakout star” status, the prospect of becoming the nextDakota Fanning, or Macaulay Culkin, or maybe Lindsay Lohan, with allthe fame and money and emotional catastrophes that come with it?

My husband insists we’ve got to take a stand and avoid Kid Nationat all costs, that it’s just too horrible an idea to be tolerated. Andwhen I think about how I’d feel if my adorable nephew (who’ll be eightlater this year, and thus eligible for the show’s second season) wastorn from his parents for six weeks to entertain the masses and boostCBS’s bottom line, I know he’s right. Then again, I’ve always hated theidea of hating a show or a movie or an art exhibit that I haven’t seenwith my own eyes. So if I watch just one episode of Kid Nation, does that make me a sellout?

Which brings me to the final Pop Quiz question:

4) Will you watch the series premiere of Kid Nation come September 19? And if I watch it, so you don’t have to, am I going to hell?