I don’t like Jon & Kate Plus 8. I think the show is overwhelmingly fake. I find Jon to be possibly the most boring person on television, I think Kate is a bitch, and I think both of them are exploiting the crap out of their children. I have always been aware of the show’s success but had no idea how big it was until the rumors that Jon’s nether regions wander a bit hit the tabloids. This past weekend the show’s new season (the fifth) hit TLC and was a ratings juggernaut, generating roughly 10 million viewers for the cable channel. That is a massive amount of people watching a reality show about two parents and their eight kids.
Recently, along with the rumors of infidelity (which seems more true than false), people have been crawling out of the woodwork to talk about the show, in particular how it exploits the couple’s eight children. There is little argument about the fact that both Jon and Kate are exploiting their children, after all if they did not have eight children they would not have a television contract with TLC. I mean seriously, what would they call the show without the kids, The Bitch and the Boring? Anyway, people from all over are talking about these two media whores, whom are famous because of their children. In the last three days I have seen (and heard) more conversations, radio segments, television news stories and interviews on the show than I had since the show debuted two years ago. The biggest issue that seems to arise is that Jon & Kate are exploiting their children. Even Kate’s family has gotten in on the media storm with her brother and sister-in-law doing an interview on The Early Show.
While I can understand the reasoning behind their interview, it is not like the problem at hand (child exploitation) is not and has not been a major problem in the entertainment industry for years. How many small children have you seen in films, television shows, commercials, what-not over the years? How many of them do you actually think wanted to be a part of them? Honestly, how many children if left to their own devices would choose to act, or sing, or pose for photo shoots? I am not saying it does not, or cannot, happen but most children would rather be kids than have to work and it is the parents that force these grown-up decisions on them because they recognize a natural talent that can be exploited.
We as people generally consider exploitation as a bad thing but that is not always the case. Most parents probably don’t set out to exploit their children for their own fortune and fame and I’m sure the same could probably be said about Jon and Kate. I am sure they saw the show as an opportunity, as many parents would, to take better care of their children. Just because a child’s talent, or in the case of Jon and Kate’s kids their existence, is exploited does not mean that the children are being abused in any way and that is a very strong distinction that needs to be made. I don’t think anyone has an issue with a child actor or singer performing as long as the money they are earning is being used to better that child’s life and ultimately their future.
The real problem is when the parents forget their place. Somewhere along the line Jon and Kate lost touch of their purpose as parents and started to enjoy the fame (and fortune) that came out of the show. Does that excuse them? No but condemning Jon and Kate because they got sucked into the vortex of fame and fortune but allowing the same to happen to thousands of other children is hyptocrytical. As much fun as burning Jon and Kate at the stake may be it is only a small part of the big problem. Instead let us be constuctive and reform how people in positions of power (be it parents, televison execs, etc…) can interact with children in these situations. Until something is put in place the problem is only going to get worse and no amount of flogging Jon and Kate is going to change that.