Sunday, February 8, 2009

"The Surprising Appeal Of Innocence On Reality TV"

This article was written by Michael Gerson and is published in the Calgary Herald.

It discusses "Jon and Kate Plus 8" and gives insight on why the author feels people are drawn to the show.

Michael Gerson is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Also, a big plus is that there is no comment section after the article.

52 comments:

lulubae said...

Their relationship is a display of commitment beneath grouchy, sleep-deprived strain--a pretty good definition of marital love.

Exactly. People rag on their attitudes but to me this sentence explains it. Marriage is not always pretty or "Leave it to Beaver"-typed. It can be hard and cruel and gross and grouchy. And that doesn't mean that love isn't present. It's about accepting another as they are and making that commitment to be there always. As someone once said, a partner who will witness your life. I think that for all people complain about Kate's attitude and asking Jon to grow a pair, they don't see that for them, it works. It's their world and they make it work. It may not always be pretty, but yet, that is life.

Gosh, I sure am sappy this morning!

Theresa said...

No, you're not sappy this morning Lulubae. I agree with you. Your partner sees, understand, and loves you each and everyday, no matter what. I think we don't witness the true relationship of J&K, and I think it's a strong, strong bond. One that they have said in past episodes relies on their faith with God. After all, we're only witnessing chosen moments of the camera.

It's also why I think it's crazy when I read people ragging on something Kate does in one episode. They focus on a moment of the camera then extrapolate and form opinions and in some places out right lies. It's so silly.

Meanwhile, J&K and their family are growing and experiencing life in a loving household because of a strong bond between mom, dad, and God.

Nina Bell said...

Sorry

No anonymous commenting. Please resubmit your comment and select a screen name

merryway said...

Lulubae, that was my fav quote also and I thought it was on the mark. I think some expect the show to play out like a sit-com complete with a rap-up and a tag still-frame at the end.

I also liked this:

The main achievement of this healthier kind of reality television is to reveal the dignity of domesticity

Nice article, I liked his take on the Gosselins.

FIONA said...

But there is a subset of this genre that accomplishes something unexpected--using the camera to humanize rather than to mock. The cable network TLC specializes in what it calls the "docu-series,"which places a camera in a home and rolls without intervention

===================================

I actually see alot of mocking in both the Duggars and Jon and Kate, probably more so with the Duggars. It seems the camera man's off scene questions to the kids about things like their values is done in a mocking way. However, the Duggars keep on rolling and don't let the uncouth cameramen trip them up.

But when the parent's themselves take to the mocking, Mady, Joel, etc....no one had to invoke that "true" response. It was given willing and freely.

And when Jon or Kate turns to the camera in response to what the other has said, that is done in a mocking way. In that case, Jon or Kate has done the mocking, and TLC just kept filming.

I don't call it humanizing, I call it bad behavior.


As for the death on LPBW, that was done tastefully I thought, but what is next.....actual deaths televised for entertainment.

Where does the line get drawn?

Dianne said...

How is it healthy for the kids, to know the world gets their entertainment from watching their mother and father go at each other like 9 year olds? How is it healthy for the kids to know the world has seen them take a dump? How is it healthy for them to know the world sees their mother act like Sybil?

Sure, families argue and poop. That's just life. But 99.9% of the world doesn't have to share that with other people for entertainment value. When I argue with my husband, my daughter doesn't have to know 2.6 million people are witnessing and judging it. When she has a bm, she can rest assured it won't be shown on the clip-of-the-week and mocked by Joel McHale.

I know more intimate things about 3little boys named Collin, Joel and Aaden, whom I've never met, than I do about my own nephews. That's just creepy. The whole thing has long ago lost it's cute factor and has evolved into a voyerism/Truman Show gawkfest. And all the while the parents just keep raking in the bucks and spending it just as fast.

Please, someone convince me I am seeing things all wrong. Please, for the love of God, provide me with proof of the innocence of this show. I am more than willing to change my opinion if someone can give me great reasons this is healthy for the kids.

FIONA said...

Dianne,

I don't think you are seeing it wrong.

marci said...

I think this writer hit the nail on the head.

Whatever negative views people have about the show, I hope (if they have ANY desire to be reasonable about people who support the Gosselins, or, at least, support their right to live their own lives) this helps them understand how some of us see the human side to this family.

As has been said before, I believe seeing human frailties shown so honestly on tv invokes two very distinct responses:

1) recognizing these human frailties in yourself and rebelling against the similarities (pointing your finger and judging someone else harshly, i.e., deflect and deny)

2) recognizing these human frailties in yourself and embracing your faults, maybe laughing at the similarities or coming to your own conclusions about what you'd like to change in yourself (without pointing the finger and needing to judge someone as sooo much worse then you are)

There are people who, perhaps, do a little bit of both, but from what I've seen this seems to be the general response to people watching reality tv (the Gosselins in particular) and seeing a little too much "real" there.

nomoredrama said...

I have no idea if it's healthy. I don't think any of us can know the impact (whether positive or negative) on the kids until the kids can begin to vocalize that.

Will financial security, time spent with family and an array of experiences that the children would likely never have outweigh the filmed potty training and spats between mom and dad?

None of us know if this is the right decision for this family but where I part ways with critics is in the notion that it's actually our job, as a society, to decide. These children (contrary to popular belief) are not being abused or neglected. They are well fed, their medical needs are met and they have 2 parents who are raising them the way that they are being raised.

The fact of the matter is, you are not going to like all decisions made by other parents. There are parents I work with that I pretty much like ZERO of the decisions that they make. But just because someone makes a (perceived) bad parenting decision doesn't mean the children should be whisked away by social services. Bad parenting is not a crime. If it were, we'd all (at one moment or another) be fined or even imprisoned.

I wonder, if the kid's spoke out at age 18 or 21 and were grateful for their experiences and claimed a happy childhood.. would you (anyone) apologize for the comments made?

If they came out and said their childhood was horrible, would you feel guilty for defending the parents?

The answer to both of these questions is likely "maybe." Whether you do or don't is inconsequential. Nothing you can do can reverse the decisions made by these parents (good, bad or indifferent). Our views on how they parent are insignificant. The truth is, whether there was a TV show or not, these kids would have Jon and Kate as parents.

So while you're getting upset, throwing things at the TV, writing letters to proctor and gamble and cursing the name of Kate Gosselin (or frankly, doing the opposite) remember your role in this is as an observer. You have no control.

Serenity prayer, anyone?

Theresa said...

Right on nomoredrama!!

Eileen said...

I came upon this site/page/whatever it's called by accident the other day thinking it was just a chat room and not realizing it was a big Jon & Kate fan site. I guess I just don't get the whole fanatical following nor do I get the whole hate towards the family (Kate in particular it seems). I do see the attraction of shows like The Duggars and Jon & Kate due to the fact that they are large families and somewhat out of the norm (although not so much anymore with fertility drugs), just like I got the whole attraction to Sarah Palin being so different. And while it's nice to have a glimpse into their lives once a week, I guess I'm just getting older (55 now) and just don't understand the whole "we have to be involved in their lives and feel the need to either condone them or condemn them" thing. I felt the same about Sara Palin during the election, I didn't see the need for people to condemn her nor to make her a candidate for Sainthood. I did however get very interested in the controversy. That is something that interest me very much. The people that defend the Gosselings, do you feel the need to defend them because you see something in yourself that you are defending or do you just feel the need to defend anyone who is attacked? And those that criticize the family (or parents) is it just offering up a not-so-nice opinion or do you feel the need to put them down, and feel that they must justify their actions to you as a viewer? I mean I've even read where some people want them off the air. I had the same questions for the Sarah Palin fans and critics (some of them even wanted her dead!). I guess I just don't understand people getting in such an uproar over a show or people they don't even know. I don't understand the avid fans nor do I understand the rabid hatred.
I am the mother of five (now grown) children and grandmother to four-year-old Jayden and two-year-old Mia, and I am now retired and I guess I have too much time on my hands that I've been getting on the computer so much! Maybe I too will get impassioned one way or the other soon too.

Paula said...

Thank you nomoredrama. You said what I have trouble putting into words. Great job.

marci said...

NMD said...

So while you're getting upset, throwing things at the TV, writing letters to proctor and gamble and cursing the name of Kate Gosselin (or frankly, doing the opposite) remember your role in this is as an observer. You have no control.

Exactly. I'm amazed how some people seem to think their opinion should matter to someone they've never met and have no relationship with. I certainly don't expect the Gosselins to give a darn about what I think.

Even an opinion as a consumer. Em Tanner is hardly a large company or media network and we know they could care less about the negative opinions about the Gosselins ("Thank you for your rigidity."). Why would TLC or P&G care? The good feedback obviously outweighs the bad.

marci said...

Eileen said...
I did however get very interested in the controversy. That is something that interest me very much.

Errr....I think you answered your own questions.

Eileen said...

No, marci, most people have a strong opinion one way or the other and not just an interest in the controversy itself. What I'm wondering about is the strong feelings either way. The controversy over the show seems almost like a political controversy.

Dianne said...

I completely understand the Gosselins are human, and I understand the concept of people judging in others what they hate most about themselves. I do think this is a problem a lot of critics of the G's have, especially the most verbal, vicious ones.

Ok, on a rare occassion I do want to tear into my husband, but 95% of the time I act my age and show restraint, so no, I am nowhere near anything like Kate Gosselin, so that can't be it.( Honestly, I've seen what hell is really like, and that really changes your perspective on life, what's worth stressing and fighting over and what's worth letting go. I can't fault Kate for not having had that same enlightenment. I'll cut her some slack for that. )

I need to throw this out there, too, to perhaps shed some light on my opinion. When I was around Mady & Cara's age, my mom yelled at me once in front of 3 of my friends. I was mortified and wanted to crawl under a rock. ( I probably would have jumped off a bridge if 2.3 million people witnessed it. ) Maybe my sensitivity is what makes me cringe about the show?

I've considered the whole "but they get so many life experiences" argument as well. But wouldn't you say Britney Spears, Ozzy Osbourne, and eeeeek....Paris Hilton...had many life experiences, too? I think it's safe to say they didn't grow up so well rounded and emotionally stable. Life experiences are nice, but most certainly do not cause little people to grow up well rounded (Michael Jackson rings a bell here, too). I'm inclined to believe too much too soon just leaves a person wanting more and more and more, and teaches them to never be satisfied with what they have right in front of them. A sure setup for disappointment and unhappiness as an adult.

Then there's the financial issue. Who wouldn't want to grow up in a mansion? But does that really make you a better person if you have lots of fancy things around you? Oprah sure didn't have the niceties The G kids do, and she did just fine. To my knowledge, the Osmonds weren't raised in a mansion either. The arguement that the G kid's need and deserve it continues to just make me scratch my head and ask, "why"? I suppose if it's worth it to you to swap poop footage of your 4 year old for an outbuilding full of poop, to each his own. But at this writing I still maintain this cannot be healthy for the kids. That argument goes out the window for me.
(Celebrity name dropping again...but Tori Spelling grew up in a mansion, and I don't see her and her mother exactly bonding and having any kind of relationship ).

I appreciate being able to have a civil discussion about my feelings here, and not being made to feel like I'm a hater. I do not hate the G's nor wish them ill will. I simply see things happening in this show that don't sit well with "me" ( which does nothing but make it my problem ), but since this is a forum for discussion, I figured, why not say what's on my mind. I've tried really hard to see how this show is healthy for the kids, but each week I see things that proved to me more and more it's so not.

Thanks ladies :) I'll end my rant now. Still very open to more proof that what we see on tv will only benefit the kids.

marci said...

Eileen,

I don't get it.

Are you interested in why the controversy promotes feelings or how the feelings promote a controversy?

And...I think if you read a little further here you'll see there are many shades of grey displayed by posters here in their feelings on this controversy, or why there's a controversy because of their feelings.

You seem to have many feelings over these feelings and a fascination with the controversy about the controversy.

How do YOU feel?

Eileen said...

Dianne, thank you for being so open and honest. You've given me a little more insight into the impassioned feelings people have. You were very personal with your example.

marci said...

Diane said...

Thanks ladies :) I'll end my rant now. Still very open to more proof that what we see on tv will only benefit the kids.

I can appreciate your point of view on the things you mentioned, but you keep coming back to whether the show is healthy and whether there's proof that any poster could give you to substantiate that opinion.

I'm not sure what you're looking for in the form of proof. Your opinions are valid as well as the opinions of others who might think differently. I don't think either could be considered "proof" or the show being healthy or unhealthy.

Eileen said...

Well, that was my point, Marci, that I don't really have an impassioned feeling about the Gosselin Family either way. Sorry if my questions somehow offended you, but that reaction validates my point of how stirred up people get on the subject. I won't make the same mistake again.

marci said...

Eileen said...
Well, that was my point, Marci, that I don't really have an impassioned feeling about the Gosselin Family either way. Sorry if my questions somehow offended you, but that reaction validates my point of how stirred up people get on the subject. I won't make the same mistake again.

Since you didn't express an opinion either way about the show, I'm not sure how you read my wanting you to clarify your quizzing the posters here as an "impassioned" or "stirred up"
response about the Gosselins.

But if you feel you've made a mistake, perhaps you have.

Or maybe you just are trying your hand at stirring things up yourself.

Eileen said...

I don't understand the attack or insinuation.

marci said...

I don't understand the attack or insinuation.

And I don't understand how you were "attacked" or that I made any insinuation.

I was pretty clear, I think.

Thanks, but I'm done playing.

Eileen said...

I felt attacked for asking questions.

Dianne said...

marci said...

I'm not sure what you're looking for in the form of proof. Your opinions are valid as well as the opinions of others who might think differently. I don't think either could be considered "proof" or the show being healthy or unhealthy.

February 8, 2009 11:55 AM

____________


Thank you, Marci.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know what I'm looking for either, as far as proof goes. I just know statements like "Life experiences" and "now they have lots of space" has been touted by Kate as proof this benefits the kids, but not in my book. I guess there is no real proof, at least not until the kids are older and can say one way or the other if it was positive or negative ( as someone above mentioned ). I will be one of the first in line to apologize for my judgments if the kids one day say the show was great for them. I do hope that's how it turns out. I would take no pleasure in saying "Ha ha,I told you so" if it turns out poorly.

But as a teacher who works with emotionally disabled kids in an elementary school, it's difficult for me to sit back and just observe and not comment, if I see potential harm being done to a child's psyche. There's an old saying, "If kids are so resilient, then why are there so many screwed up adults?"

And the fact is, when you choose to put your lives on tv, you are in essence saying, "tell me what you think". Would I express these opinions if the G's were not on tv? Absolutely not, because then there would be no reason to. I don't care one bit that Kate is gruff and berates her husband. I don't care that she hits him. I don't care that the kids are lined up on Bob's front porch to poop. But I do care that moments like these are shown to the world at the kids' expense, not knowing how it will affect them. The G's are really taking a gamble with how this will turn out. Me, personally, I would never make a gamble like that. Guess that's why I'm not on tv and a millionaire, huh?

I'm not trying to argue, if that's how it comes across. Not at all, and I respect other's opinions. I'm just giving mine because, well, that's what we're here for, right?

FIONA said...

NMD,

You say with certainty that the kids are not abused or neglected...that is just as speculative as me saying that they are.

The truth is we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Perhaps Kate is much kinder and gentler when the cameras aren't rolling and Jon is a stand up kindof a guy.

It will be interesting to see how all the kids fare growing up, and I sincerely hope the best for them all. I hope they look back on the DVD's and are glad their parent's chose to capitalize on their uniqueness.

Eileen said...

Dianne, I guess I always thought of all these shows, even reality shows as so scripted and I never looked at it from your perspective. I can understand how you would voice a concern then.
I guess not having come from your background I wouldn't look at it like that.

Nina Bell said...

The argument that the G kid's need and deserve it continues to just make me scratch my head and ask, "why"?

I don't feel that way. I am not sure if anyone deserves the material things they have. But i also do not begrudge them because they have them and I do not.

Dianne, I think your opinions and concerns are appreciated. Who knows if the show "benefits" the kids in a way that we can have measured proof. How would we measure that. Do we have a standard measuring cup for that?

Everyone's beliefs and standards are so different on these issues.

Nina Bell said...

There's an old saying, "If kids are so resilient, then why are there so many screwed up adults?"

This is a very interesting subject and somewhat off topic but something that comes up quite a bit.

How can two parents raise 6 kids the same way and 5 of them grow up to be responsible well adjusted adults and the 6th ends up unable to hold down a job and incarcerated a majority of his or her life.

Environment is one factor and I agree that parenting is probably the most important, but there are so many other factors including genetics. Just because an adult is "screwed up" does not mean that they had bad parenting.

lulubae said...

The truth is we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Perhaps Kate is much kinder and gentler when the cameras aren't rolling and Jon is a stand up kindof a guy.

Exactly. That's why I don't get the judging hatred or even sanctifying of them. I don't think they are people to be reviled or not looked up to or perfect examples of how marriages/families should be.

For that matter, you (not directed at original poster, just in general) don't know what goes on behind my door more than what I know what happens behind yours or your neighbors. And so I take the Gosselins at face value. What I see on tv.

And while I don't agree with 100% I see when on there (much the same as I don't agree 100% with what others around me do), it doesn't mean that I will pass judgment on them as if to say that my view of the world is somehow superior or "more right".

FIONA said...

Sharla said...
Beginning with January 26 through about 5 minutes ago, we've had 395,243 visits
-----------------------------------

Nina,

Why don't you update US with this kind of pertinent information? ;)

Nina Bell said...

What purpose does that serve?

FIONA said...

It was a joke...

Nina Bell said...

Yes I knew that.

Saint said...

You say with certainty that the kids are not abused or neglected...that is just as speculative as me saying that they are.

I respectfully disagree, Fiona. Abuse and neglect have to meet a legal standard, and nomoredrama has just the credentials to tell us if they have. Her evaluation of the situation holds more credibility than yours or mine.

Nina Bell said...

Saint

You and I can not post comments one after another because it makes it quite obvious that you have a different standard of living than I do.

FIONA said...

Saint,

NMD may hold credentials but that does not mean anything. Are you saying that by her watching a TV show she can come to that conclusion?

No more than I could have made a conclusion about Hannah and her migraines.

nomoredrama said...

NMD,

You say with certainty that the kids are not abused or neglected...that is just as speculative as me saying that they are.

The truth is we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Perhaps Kate is much kinder and gentler when the cameras aren't rolling and Jon is a stand up kindof a guy.


I agree to a point Fiona and I'd say that you were right except for the fact that Social Services has been called and an exorbitant amount of times on this family. I could say with certainty that since there have been investigations and no major news scandal that any accusation brought against this family has been unfounded.

Secondly, do you think TLC would knowingly film a family who abuses their children? Even if for the last 2 years or so they managed to hide all of the horrendous abuses, knowing that the kids are being abused would make them liable. They would not risk the reputation of their network.

So, if TLC is in the home on average 3-4 days per week (and there are critics who say they are there every day) then how (if they are filming for 10 hours a day as some allege) have they missed this?

Do you think they are going to put their butts on the line and lose everything to protect Jon and Kate? Ha!!!!

That's the basis of my opinion. Feel free to disagree but I think Paul Peterson's people and others are "on the case." If something sinister was going on (other than the TV show that critics argue is sinister) we'd know about it, IMO.

FIONA said...

NMD,

It sounds as though you know something to be factual that I don't, so forgive me for assuming you were just making a general comment.

Saint said...

You and I can not post comments one after another because it makes it quite obvious that you have a different standard of living than I do.

I offered to lend you my husband's Sub Zero catalogue! Lol!

Saint said...

Fiona,
I thought you meant that the show itself constituted abuse to the kids in your opinion, and the nomoredrama thought it was not abusive in her opinion. If we all are looking at the same thing, and one of us has some credentials, her opinion holds more credibility. Don't you agree?

If you are talking about "behind the scenes" abuse not shown on TV, what the heck are you talking about? It sounds like YOU know something factual, but I don't believe that you have claimed that before?

jb said...

This article also appeared in the Washington Post and it allowed comments.

Nina Bell said...

JB
Yes and I guess that is why I like our neighbors up north. LOL

nomoredrama said...

Fiona,
I got confused about something. I looked it up and I apologize. I really was thinking of someone else.

My point was that I know that even internet bloggers have contacted social services.

Didn't mean to offend...probably should have looked it up before publishing comment. I'll delete it.

Quiltart said...

My point was that I know that even internet bloggers have contacted social services.

But do you really think that social services take a complaint from an internet blogger very seriously, since they have no firsthand knowledge of what goes on in the house?

I agree that if something was going on in the G's household that needed investigating, between TLC, teachers, nosy neighbors and Paul Petersen, something would have surfaced by now. The biggest complaints that I've seen have come from bloggers who do not like the parents. Period.

Theresa said...

Wow, see how rumours get started? From someone who has admitted she's not a Kate fan to begin with, let alone has said many a times that she thinks this family has been exploited. I think we all know who I'm talking about.

God forbid, if something were happening or happened, the show wouldn't be on.

It takes someone with no life to keep stirring the pot, make incredible wrong judgements and insinuations, throwing them out on the blogs as statements and keep putting the assumption out there. It's just a nasty thing and the wrong thing to do. What a lowlife.

SamanthaNC said...

I missed alot- again. Busy weekend :) As far as lulubae's sentiments about marriage- I couldnt agree more.

Kinley said...

I don't think it is 'normal' in any healthy marital relationship to belittle the other spouse, no matter what. Those things are private if they have to happen. IMO, Kate is showing total disregard for Jon's feelings when she does these things in front of millions of people, it is very disrespectful. I am not saying that it can't happen to all of us every once in a while, people have bad days, but this seems to happen a lot with Kate. If I were to treat my husband like that he would probably leave and I wouldn't blame him. We are not like 'leave it to beaver' by a long shot, but we do have respect for one another. If we are in public and I feel like he has done something wrong I never stand in front of the crowd and call him out on it, but when we get home I do.I think Kate needs to calm down and fast or her marriage could fall apart.

Tyra said...

Quote:
When I argue with my husband, my daughter doesn't have to know 2.6 million people are witnessing and judging it. When she has a bm, she can rest assured it won't be shown on the clip-of-the-week and mocked by Joel McHale.

It's your choice. You seem to feel very strongly about your own personal definition of privacy, and you are choosing how to draw the boundaries, both for yourself and for your daughter. It's your right to choose for yourself, and for her. Are you making your choice for her because you have proof that the choices you make for her will do her only good and no harm, or are you simply following your instincts and using your personal standards as your guide in making those decisions?

Parents decide for their children. There are many parenting choices that people don't all agree about, because not everyone has the same sensibilities and sensitivities. But sometimes, it seems to me that quite a few women who are also moms can't let it go at that. They have to 'win' the argument over whatever parenting choice and 'prove' that their choice is the Right choice (obviously making other choices the Wrong choices). It's why those endless arguments about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding and working moms vs. stay-at-home moms NEVER, EVER end.

Quote:
I guess I'm just getting older (55 now) and just don't understand the whole "we have to be involved in their lives and feel the need to either condone them or condemn them" thing.

I'm surprised that that's all you've gleaned from reading the posts at this site. It's a lot more nuanced than that. I wouldn't even say that the Gosselins are what usually pulls me personally into these dialogues. It's often just the discussions about human nature, as reflected in both the Gosselins and their viewers. I also get stirred to write when I see illogical, emotion-distorted 'arguments' being perpetrated (elsewhere). It bothers me that those arguments get so much play, and that they give a false impression of being the common 'wisdom'.

Guinevere said...

I think Kate needs to calm down and fast or her marriage could fall apart.

I think different marriages are different and what works for one couple may not work for another. Much as with parenting, I don't understand why some people insist that everyone must do things the exact say way that they do them, or they aren't "normal".

Nina Bell said...

Hi Anonymous,

I would like to post your comment. Could you resubmit it with a screen name. Thanks

no regrets said...

As a mother I always try to "error on the side of caution". Since I don't know how my children will turn out and how they will feel as adults I would not want to have any regrets for subjecting them to the public via having a camera record so much of their lives. I know I try to do what I feel is best for them but since a reality show is pretty much uncharted territory I would not want my children to be the "guinea pigs". No one will know until they grow up how this show is affecting them but again, I would rather not participate than take a chance they might be affected by the show and everything that goes along with it. And now with both parents traveling away so often and having a nanny involved I don't see much positive in that. I know J&K feel they are doing the right thing and maybe they are but only time will tell and what is done cannot be undone.