Over the past few years, I have watched more Jon & Kate Plus 8 than I care to admit. The wifey got me into it a few years ago. It’s not like we watch every episode, but it always seems to be on, and we get sucked in by something cute one of the kids says (like “I got to hit the tiñata.”).
Initially, I thought watching it made for pretty good birth control. Then Lucy came along and I began thanking my lucky stars that there weren’t five more of her in there. Now that I’m doing more of the grocery shopping, I am bombarded by the tabloids alerting me to the latest “scoop” on this couple now known by their famous first names. (Brangelina who?)
The season five premiere shattered TLC records, with about 10 million people tuning in to see what makes a train wreck look like a happy walk in a wading pool. It has followed the familiar arc of American celebrity: Someone rises up from obscurity to capture the hearts and minds of all the people only to be tarred and feathered (or worse) once we grow tired of them.
There is plenty of blame to go around for this monstrosity. Everybody is culpable, except the kids, who seem to always end up with the raw deal in these things.
Jon clearly wants to be done with the show. Kate clearly doesn’t. She has allowed cameras into her house for years, and now she’s complaining that there’s too much media attention. Both seem to favor the passive-aggressive mode of communication, which is widely known for its effectiveness. Not.
During one of the few times Jon and Kate were interviewed together, both claimed to be primarily concerned with doing what’s best for the kids, while conspicuously refraining from mentioning each other. It may come as news to them, but the best thing for the kids is for Mom and Dad to be together. And not in some charade in which they masquerade as “friends.” Kids are too smart for that.
I may be in the minority, but I don’t think all is lost for the Gosselin marriage. Surely there was a reason they fell in love, and I’d bet those reasons are still there — somewhere. But they need to start communicating, preferably off camera. If it were me, I’d kick out the cameras, say bye bye to TLC, spend a couple months in some undisclosed location, and rebuild my family.
The sticky part in this whole tale is the fact that the couple makes about $75,000 per episode. That’s a lot of scratch. And apparently reason enough to keep the circus going, rationalizing that it’s the only real choice, even amidst claims from their own relatives that the kids are being exploited.
So Jon and Kate themselves are the prime culprits in this mess, but I hold TLC responsible as well. I have no respect for the producers. It’s one thing to create a show around the curiosity of a family with eight kids — six of them being the same age. That’s interesting. But the minute you get a sense that a marriage and a family is in trouble, don’t you think it’s time to say, “You know what? I know this is great for ratings, but this is wrong for this family. Maybe we should take a break and let them sort things out.” Sadly, another example where money trumps human decency.
Meanwhile, I believe there is a special place in hell for paparazzi, aka “P-people.”
Get. A. Freaking. Life.
How do they sleep at night? What kind of sad, pathetic, slime ball loser do you have to be to sneak around photographing kids? If Jon and Kate weren’t famous, I’m pretty sure that might be against the law. I hear the job pays well, which apparently makes it all ok.
Then you have all of the tabloid magazines and TV shows that serve the gossip side of this stuff up like we’re in a high school cafeteria. This is the machine that keeps the paparazzi in business. Hosts with shiny hair and shinier teeth urgently present this “news” as if they’re doing us a service and making the world a better place. Get over yourselves. You were losers in high school and you’re losers now.
Finally, I can’t leave us off the list. That’s right, you and me. If we weren’t watching the show, it wouldn’t be on the air.
The only thing I can’t blame in this scenario — besides the kids — is money. I’m sure millions are crossing their arms, saying, “See, money is bad. It keeps causing all of these troubles.” They might try to prove their point by sharing the Bible passage that says, “Money is the root of all evil.”
Except that what it really says is, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Money is an innocent bystander; it’s people who are the problem.
Kim and I watched the show with great interest, because we’ve often talked about pitching a show to TLC or the Travel Channel. We’ve debated the pros and cons that would come with such an opportunity. Of course there’s the money, a bigger audience, and an opportunity to impact more people. The downside is the possibility of turning into the nightmare that Jon & Kate Plus 8 has now become. If the opportunity came along, we’d probably consider it, but examples like this would give us great hesitation. Everyone thinks they’d handle the situation better, but the slope is more slippery than any of us could imagine.
I guess what this all comes down to is choices and consequences. We always have a choice and our actions always have consequences. Jon & Kate had the choice whether or not to bring cameras into their home. That action led to some very good consequences (increased income, a wide variety of exciting experiences, and a platform to promote books), and some very bad ones (decreased privacy, media scrutiny, and a fissure in their marriage).
Right now, they might feel like their hands are tied. But even if they have 75,000 reasons to think otherwise, they still have a choice about what to do next. And the choices they make now will have consequences down the line. Inaction on their part could result in some real, unfixable problems later.
Don’t forget that whatever situation you may currently be in, you have a choice as well. It might be a difficult one, but it it a choice nonetheless. Don’t lose sight of the consequences that may occur as a result of your action.