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Jon Minus Kate = ???????? May 20, 2009

My womb could house some refugees, if anyone's interested...

"My womb could house some refugees, if anyone's interested..."

(That’s eight question marks for those that don’t wanna think about it)

What’s with these reality shows about people who have a million kids? Are viewers interested in the spectacle of watching a large family cope? Or is it that we, as a society, are so sadistic that we enjoy seeing people lose their damn minds because they have too many kids? Most likely, it’s because we collectively miss something from our pop-culture past that isn’t around anymore – The Freak Show.

Since it’s not the done thing these days to point and laugh and stare in public at bearded ladies or enormously fat people or midgets for our amusement, shows like Jon and Kate Plus 8, Table For Twelve and the all-dancing, all-chaotic, all-Octomom ‘Nadya Suleman Review’ that goes on in the media have taken the place of the Olde Tyme Freak Show. It’s so that we can sit back and laugh and judge in the privacy of our very own home. And nobody will judge us for judging.

Now it’s big news that Jon and Kate might be splitting (Joel McHale – you totally called this). The magazines act like it’s a surprise but the pressure of having EIGHT children AND a camera crew in your house 24 hours a day has got to be insane. Having said that, these people completely deserve to be miserable. It’s one thing to have 8 kids, it’s another to invite the world into your home to see you and your offspring (who may look back and hate their parents for pimping their childhood for money) trying to share two bathrooms and fight for pole position at the dinner table like hungry dogs. With or without 8 sprogs, I get the impression that Jon and (probably more so) Kate wanted to be FAMOUS. And they were rewarded for their arguably irresponsible behaviour by being given that opportunity. Huzzah? Kate comes off like a shrew, from the clips I’ve seen on The Soup, and Jon looks dazed- as if he still can’t believe this is really his life. You got Sucka Punched, Dude. They already acted like they hated each other. Is their divorce a real shock to anyone? How super-fun for their children to have it plastered everywhere.

Jon & Kate & Joel - I

When I was an only child, my best friend, Jamie was one of seven kids. I learned fast that when I was over at his house for supper that you had to act with lightening-speed and protect your plate. The family motto was, ‘Stretch or Starve’. However, I thought it was more fun than my family’s dinner table, which was just me, my Mum and my Dad. I was also a bit jealous that he always had someone to play with. During one of my ‘I’m Running Away Cos You’re Mean Parents And You’ll Never See Me Again’ escapades, I ran away to Jamie’s house. I thought they wouldn’t notice one more kid and then I could have loads of brothers and sisters. It didn’t work out because, as my Dad predicted, I missed having my own room and being the centre of attention. I went back after 5 hours. These people weren’t on TV. Susan, the Mum, wasn’t a shrew and Jim, the Dad, wasn’t walking around looking like he wanted to kill himself. Why? Because these people truly wanted and planned for a huge family. See, some people are just suited for a bunch of kids and perhaps Mother Nature ‘knows’ this. Of course, it wasn’t Shiny Happy Families all the time in their house and they had their struggles, like all families do, but my Mum watched an episode of one of these programmes and said, “Jesus, I never heard Susan bitch like this woman does. Her children won’t like hearing that when they’re older”.

Jon & Kate & Joel - II

To be fair and as balanced as I can be – I’m not a Reality TV fan in the first place. But at least the people who sign up for American Idol or Survivor are aware of what they’re doing or have some concept, so good luck to them. My disgust is mainly for the fact that there are children involved who have no say because they’re under 18 and in their parents’ ‘care’. And it’s not even being done in a somewhat dignified documentary style. It’s throw-away, McDonald’s, pop entertainment. I think it should be law that any couple undergoing In vitro has to sign a legal document saying that they won’t take part in TV experiments such as these or sell their story to the highest bidder should their treatment result in multiple births. I’d bet that would knock a few people off the waiting list, leaving room for those couples that want this for the proper reasons. There’s a scary amount of folks who’ll do anything to be on telly or on a magazine cover and, sadly, that includes bringing actual LIVES into the world. When un-gifted people who have no discernible talents want the world to know their name, they do crazy things. And what do we do? We give them a TV show! We say, “Jeez, you’re special!” We condone by giving them the attention they crave like binge-eaters at a hot dog convention – we’re holding out the mustard and egging them on. This makes the kind of sense that, well, doesn’t make sense at all.

"Yeayyy! I have no money, no job, no supportive partner but Diane Saywer wants to talk to me!!! There IS a God."

"Yeayyy! I have no money, no job, no supportive partner and very little education but Diane Sawyer wants to talk to me!!!" (Welcome to the world, kiddies. I'M SORRY.)

And the doctors! Seriously, what Fucker MD gave the Suleman woman fertility drugs? He needs to have his license taken away NOW. Nadya Suleman obviously has some mental/emotional issues and nobody in her life that cares enough to talk some common sense into her. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have become the living, breathing, real-life ‘Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe’. You don’t have to be a shrink to see that. And instead of turning on her now that the deed is done, I just feel bad for her and those poor kids, cos they’re stigmatized for life. People loooove to speculate about her reasons – she wants to be Angelina Jolie and other rubbish (maybe she does, I don’t know) but that is not helpful. What would be helpful is keeping a strict eye on these Fertility Doctors and making sure they ‘first do no harm’.

(For the record, I am not against In vitro or anything. I simply believe that only when patients have full comprehension of the risks and consequences of this treatment and are in the care of a responsible physician AND psychiatrist should they go through with it. This advancement in fertility medicine is an amazing, brilliant but very powerful thing and caution is key. Besides, statistically speaking, most people put more research and thought into what car they purchase than the medical procedures they sign up for. This is serious shit, after all.)

Science has caught up with Society but Society hasn’t caught up with Science. I don’t know if we’re grown-up enough to handle all these wonders that are available to us. Just because we’re capable of cloning sheep doesn’t mean we should. Not right now anyway. Not if we’re going to then take these ‘Insta-Large-Families’ and put them on display for us to sneer at and give vunerable people the idea that having a litter of kids is a one-way ticket to being universally loved and praised. Maybe it’s time to bring back The Freak Show. It may not be Policially Correct but I’ll say something for it; it was way more honest. Have an ‘Octo-Day’, everyone.

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Rich May 20th, 2009

Great article and so true. If you’re invited on Springer, you can be pretty sure your ex is a racist transsexual and wants to let you know, whether she’s attempting a reconciliation or not. But the kids have very little say in how their folks are exploiting the big family, and the shows’ producers aren’t all that interested in editing the show to make the children look good – they want viewers. I will say though that I can completely understand Octomom’s need to have eight more kids, coz just before she gave birth to them, did you notice that she was HUGE? She’s lost a lot of weight since then, and I think it’s probably down to the fact that she’s added to her family and she’s so much happier.

Howard May 20th, 2009

…and anyone taking fertility drugs like Manny Ramirez should be suspended for at least 50 games/shows. I’m only guessing but I doubt Manny will get pregnant but if he does, at least he can support them.

Matthew May 21st, 2009

Hey it might not end up sooo bad…

Just kidding – great mix of pop culture and SCIENCE!

Howard May 22nd, 2009

While looking at the ads on this page for fertility clinics a future ad crossed my mind.

Erin May 22nd, 2009

Yeah, sometimes these ads make the exact counterpoint! Oh well, that’s capitalism for ya.

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