Tuesday, June 23, 2009

reality television: leaving home

The Last Amazon made us all watch Jon & Kate plus 8 last night. I understand why the show had Last Amazon appeal having caught 5-10 minutes of a few episodes before the big sleep would over took me. What child raised, more or less, with only one parent home wouldn’t find it appealing?

Last night was the ‘big episode’ wherein Jon & Kate announce their separation after 8 kids. Well, well. People separate, divorce and I get that, but for the life of me, I just cannot understand how these two can sit in front of a camera and suggest they have to do what is best for themselves, and then, best for their children. How divorce in this case ever translates as best for the children it beyond my ability to understand. But as Isaiah Sender suggested – why would I understand it given that I would never turn my family into a commodity either.


james said...

those kids are going to be messed up wards of the state in one way or another at some point. i just know it.

Chris Taylor said...

The first two seasons were all that should have been made. The adults were still (relatively) sane ordinary Joes and doing relatively ordinary things (laying new broadloom, asssembling new IKEA furniture for the kids rooms, trip to the zoo, etc). They seemed like ordinary people stuck in an extraordinary situation.

In later seasons they started doing the more outlandish celebrity-oriented stuff (segment on Oprah, magazine cover shoots, etc) and it stopped being interesting. When your biggest worry is your kids behaving on the set of Oprah, your perspective and the rest of the world's no longer match up.

That said it was pretty obvious even then that Jon and Kate were both in mortal danger of falling headlong into Douchebagville. Kate being an obnoxious Type-A steamroller with a short fuse, and Jon being a peulant passive-aggressive lump who doesn't put forth more than the bare minimum effort required for the job. Maybe it was just the magic of editing, but they didn't seem like they had a good handle on communicating even at the best of times. And when they were really under stress, forget it.

They should have pulled the plug after the second season or, at the very latest, mid-way through the third. I'm sure by that time they had enough money socked away for everyone's college fund, and could have bailed out without it all coming apart in the media spotlight.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

James, for the children's sake, I hope your wrong.

Chris, I think your on to something but I have to say I don't think I'd have done it in the same situation.

When Isaiah Sender was younger we had constant offers from talent scouts and modeling agencies.

It just never sat right with the two of us to exploit his looks for financial gain even for the family so we never followed up with any of the offers.

Robert Relation said...

Anyway, the life of these kids was not going to be easy, with their parents going into a reality show... Now, is just sad that they have to go through all this divorce on tv

Chris Taylor said...

I don't know that you can put that comparison in the same league, Kateland.

A big part of the Jon and Kate concept is that raising eight kids is difficult and unusual in these times. Whether or not the kids enjoy the camera and celebrity is a kind of secondary or tertiary concern. I agree that it's exploitative in nature.

The scouts of yesteryear, though, would not have been after planting cameras in the house or watching Isaiah being potty trained. Your case is different. How would Isaiah have felt about modelling or acting? Would he have enjoyed it, or not? I don't know that that sort of calculus factors into the Jon & Kate charade right now. It probably did at the beginning of their relationship with TLC, but their public pronouncements make it clear that it doesn't any longer.

My dad was in radio and stage work as a kid and I would never characterise it as exploitative. He was a natural performer, the kind of guy who enjoyed being in the spotlight and being at the centre of attention. He was a showboat at home long before my grandparents thought of having him try anything professionally. Eventually they got him invovled and by all accounts he enjoyed it. But they also didn't push him to stay in when he wanted to get out. For them to have withheld that opportunity would have been a big mistake, at odds with my dad's entire personality.

If a kid seems to have an aptitude for a skill or a role, then I don't think it would be a bad idea to give them some exposure to it. Just because it's showbiz (and many people do lose their heads in greed and fame) doesn't make it anathema. You have to factor in the personality of the child and their potential interests.

I don't know that anything would be particularly righteous about denying a kid that opportunity because of a parent's reluctance to exploit their kid's natural talent. You as an adult don't have to earn an income from it, but they should have a shot at doing fun junk they might later want to pursue as a career.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Chris – I suppose I should have made plain the modelling/talent agencies where not interested in Isaiah's 'talent' but his strictly his 'look', and if he had been out of the baby/toddler/pre-school years and was actually capable of making a decision and wanted to model or perform I wouldn't stop him per say.

Can't say I'd be thrilled by his choice, but there was just no way I was going to put a baby/toddler/pre-schooler thru cattle calls or long days of photo shoots, commericals etc – not to mention that kind of attention over a child's look in such early formative years can potentially have a rather negative impact on his attitude towards the physical.