Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus Hate

I used to watch J&K+8. I found it interesting to see how an ordinary couple raised a horde of kids all by themselves. They had few friends, little family, and a limited income. They just wanted child number three and instead got three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. It was interesting to watch two ordinary people try to do ordinary things under extraordinary circumstances.

But then, things started to get a little strange. Friends and family disappeared from view. The parents worked less and less, but the family vacationed more and more. We were told that this was a happy family doing normal things, but it became harder to show it. The children got bigger, but didn’t seem to grow up. The parents got lots of things, but didn’t seem to get each other. There were rumblings that all wasn’t as it seemed, but surely, a couple who just celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows couldn’t be on the rocks, right? And then it all came tumbling down with one picture of Jon drunk, at a bar, with another woman. Spin, damage control, tabloids, paparazzi, talk shows, lather, rinse, repeat.

The truth of the matter – we were hoodwinked from the beginning. The babies weren’t a happy accident; they were the result of willful ignorance of fertility recommendations. The parents didn’t fall into the limelight; they very carefully sought it out. They weren’t overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers; instead, they created opportunities to capitalize on that kindness. How did we get taken in so completely?

In a word: editing. From the very beginning, Jon and Kate very carefully edited what they said to the public. From the very beginning, they bent and twisted the truth to suit their needs. Then TLC joined in the fun and brought professional editors into the mix. Lo and behold, we had captivating reality television, though it bore little to no resemblance to real life.

Now we have two people who seem to have no ability to self-edit at all. Maybe after years of living with the TLC bit in their mouth, they just can’t help but wag their tongues at anything that will listen. Maybe they were so tired of being gagged that they just can’t help but shout at the world, hear me, hear me. Or maybe it’s all just part of the show. Maybe they are so used to living a lie that they don’t even know their way back to the truth.

Ah, well. Jon & Kate Plus Eight the television show might be over, the family might be broken beyond repair, and the media may tire of reality television for good, but there is a bright light on the horizon. One day, it might be ten years from now, it might be 15, but one day, Mady Gosselin is going to write a book about all of this and I am absolutely going to read it.

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