I have an announcement for Jon & Kate

Jon & Kate Gosselin have an announcement. So say the advertisements for tonight’s episode of TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” a formerly cutesy reality show that I’ve seen exactly two episodes of.

Those two episodes were seen about a year ago as I was doing things around my house and had the TV on a random channel for no particularly memorable reason. Here was this couple, with eight kids (six sextuplets; two twins). During the interview segments, the couple sat on the couch and talked to the cameras, and what became very clear to even the novice viewer was that Jon was fairly hands-off about things, and that Kate didn’t miss any opportunity to bitch out her husband on camera. Jon would sit there and take it, and you could almost read his thoughts as he’d try not to react when belittled in front of a basic cable audience.

Now there’s the ongoing media circus surrounding the Gosselins and the allegations of their affairs and whatnot. In the weeks before the season premiere of “Jon & Kate” in May, the Gosselins found themselves all over the entertainment pages of various periodicals that trade in that sort of mindless gossip. The sort of mindless gossip which I’m only to happy to repeat, by the way. Mindless gossip do what it do.

The gossip also created a media frenzy that led to huge ratings (double the show’s usual audience) for the season premiere. That audience has since dwindled (who wants to keep watching a show that pretends to be about cute kids when all you can really think about is whether Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce?), and now we have TLC advertising an “announcement” from the couple. Timing, anyone?

No matter what this announcement is, it represents the most cynical aspects of reality television. I can’t imagine an honest viewer feeling anything but cheated if this announcement isn’t something seriously life-altering, like a divorce or separation. Given all the drama that has unfolded in the tabloids and how we love to tear people down after we’ve built them up (not to mention how sick many of us are of Kate flying around the country on book tours, etc., to turn her family into a marketing brand), anything less than a nuclear explosion is just not going to be satisfying.

But a more sensible course of action would be for Jon & Kate to announce the willful cancellation of their own show before the circus tent comes crashing down upon the three rings and — more to the point — the eight kids. (Assuming it has not already done so.) But don’t expect that: We have a reality show to put on and money to make!

I have an announcement for Jon & Kate: You need to go away. Get your asses off television and, whether together or apart, find a better forum for raising your children. A forum like — oh, I dunno — a house without video cameras.

Because, honestly, this can’t end well. Imagine those kids in 10 years. What, as teenagers, are they going to think of Mom and Dad, who were apparently willing to continue with an enterprise that fueled a firestorm surrounding a tawdry drama as their marriage hung in doubt? I tend to think I’d be kinda pissed. No one asked the kids if they wanted to be on reality TV.

“For the love of God, think of the children!” Now there’s a line of melodrama.

Footnote: I don’t consider myself above the fray here. I’m talking about it, which in my own small way makes me complicit. The point is, the parents are the ones who need to be above the fray, rather than continuing to profit by it.

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9 comments on this post

Brendan
Monday, June 22, 2009, 2:17 pm (UTC -6)

In 15 years all those kids will probably be screwed up. I didn’t see any harm in it before when it was about 2 parents raising 6 babies and 2 toddlers… but now? Its exploitive of them in a time of crisis… imagine having your days recorded for a TV show while you’re parents are divorcing, one of the hardest things a kid can go through?

Daniel Lebovic
Monday, June 22, 2009, 6:33 pm (UTC -6)

Amen!

“Jon watches Kate make Hate” is perhaps not legally exploitative (right word?) but is morally exploitative. The fault does not just like at the feet of perpetually spaced-out Jon and coiled-like-a-cobra Kate. “The Learning Channel” – gosh, I love the irony in that – is responsible for putting this swill on television and for keeping it there.

There will always be a demand for the teleivision airwaves to beam swill directly before our eyes. Rarely, though, has the attempt to pawn off such swill as “educatinal” been so disingenuous as it has been with this show. Say what you will about The Jerry Springer Show – its host knew he was running a carny show with freak (possibly staged-freakdom) guests. Jerry never pretended he or our show was enlightening us. But the solemnity of the commercials promoting “J&K,” suggests that the viewer is not going to be treated to a simple dose of trash but to something more: a learning experience. “See, this is what families with multiples are like.” Wrong. It’s what unhappy families on camera are like and how the constant presence of the camera – which has an unobstrusively blunt way of making the best and worst of people stand out – can pervert people – or pervert them further. Even the younger children now (by walking around with the technical people, smiling to the cameramen on cue) must be getting the notion that life involves something more than being raised by a mother and father. They did not ask to be robbed of their privacy. Strange, how we have parental consent laws in this country when it comes to things such as child labor laws (especially when it comes to children working beyond a certain amount of hours on a movie set), but when the parents are the ones who are making the money, parents’ safety for their children seems to be thrown under the bus. Shows like this are a disgrace and to the extent they have any socially redeeming value to US, the psychological devastation in ways “both subtle and gross” (as Q once said) inflicted and self-inflicted upon the participants more than outweigh such value. I’d liek to think that the cancellation of this show – for whatever reason, were it to happen, were a good thing – but a cancellation would probably merely encourage a TV producer to think, “It’s not that we had a bad itdea. We just didn’t do it right this time.

Jammer
Monday, June 22, 2009, 6:55 pm (UTC -6)

I meant to mention the irony of TLC formerly being The Learning Channel, but I forgot. (I actually don’t think it technically stands for that anymore. I think TLC now merely stands for … TLC.)

Actually, the subject of what cable networks are now and what they used to be (in terms of names and acronyms, etc.) might make for its own blog post.

Remco
Monday, June 22, 2009, 8:08 pm (UTC -6)

The Lost Children

Chris
Monday, June 22, 2009, 9:21 pm (UTC -6)

The Lame Channel

Occuprice
Monday, June 22, 2009, 10:52 pm (UTC -6)

Last summer I watched more than my share of episodes in a few viewing marathons with my sister. I liked it and it was one of those shows I was planning on keeping tabs on every now and then. Since all this scandal stuff started, I’ve made it a point not to watch it. Not because I think it’s damaging the show (I wouldn’t know, not having watched it) but because it’s pretty obvious the station and the parents are using this scandal to draw in more viewers, and I’m not okay with that for this show. Most reality shows center on the types of conflict we’re now seeing on JK+8, and that’s the reason I don’t watch them. It’s stupid crap. I thought JK+8 was amusing and entertaining to watch now and then because it WASN’T that type of reality show. Can’t say that anymore. Using the scandal to increase the ratings is both against the core of the show and it reveals that this really IS just about the money…. not about the kids on the show. Guess I was being naive when I thought it might be otherwise.

Greg M
Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 7:58 pm (UTC -6)

Jammer,

Yeah, the whole Network being blanded with everything else so there is no uniqueness anymore could be a good topic. One great example, Scifi Channel turing itself into Syfy, or MTV showing Star Wars movies, or another network getting CSI New York, putting that show on like 4 stations now. It’s ridiculous.

Humph
Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 5:00 pm (UTC -6)

With the amount of effort you wasted on this post, Jammer, you could’ve knocked out half a Trek: TNG review.

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