Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Price Of Fame

I admit it. While I don't watch a lot of TV, the TV that I do watch could be considered questionable by some. On the rare occasion that I do wrestle that remote control from Hub's hands, my choices are usually just fluff-something trashy and amusing, rather then something deep.

I leave the deep for books.

For quite awhile, a show that seemed to make the cut more then any other was Jon and Kate Plus 8. I'm not a fan of reality TV; the cattiness, backstabbing, cut throat competition really isn't my style. Jon and Kate is different, I mused. It's positive. Cute kids, decent parents, it's feel good reality TV.

Or is it?

At first, I enjoyed watching. Here was a seemingly normal couple with a gaggle of children dropped in their laps, trying to cope with just getting through the day. What mom wouldn't relate to the trials of getting ONE kid potty trained, much less six at once? Egads! Besides, what mom wouldn't be impressed by Kate's organizational skills?

As time went on, I began to wonder a bit and read some of the controversy. I considered how similar the show is to me blogging, and how I share pieces of Jake with the public that otherwise would be completely private. Is it really that different? What about the free trips and products they receive? Don't bloggers sometimes get them too? Just the other day I wrote a pitch policy aimed right at the public relation-types that send me their spiels. Is there anything wrong with that? The kids are obviously well taken care of and look happy, so what's the harm?

I rationalized my way through and happily watched until one scene-one seemingly small, glossed over scene, completely changed my mind.

One of the smaller children was sent to the corner and was sitting there alone, until Maddy came up and whacked them. As Maddy turned and walked away, suddenly her face changed; horrified, guilty. She ran back over to her sibling and, pointedly looking right at the camera, hugged her.

The scene cut to John and Kate, who snorted and said, "Oh, the camera? Has become Maddy's conscience."

You're freaking kidding me.

Children need secrets. They need to be able to be at their very worst with their parents and know that despite it all, they will be loved. They do not need a camera documenting their every mistake for the world to see and judge, (have you seen the mean stuff spewed about this 8 year old?) and remember when they are older. They need to learn to be good because it's the right thing to do, not because a camera will catch them and air it for the world to see. This child has had that taken from her, because every meltdown, every whine, every bad moment, is up for grabs and viewed by millions. MILLIONS.

I can't help but remember when Jake was small and we struggled so much-while he has allowed me to share bits and pieces here, much is simply between us. I know his deepest darkest moments, the moments that he is not proud of, even ashamed of; and as his mother, I have kept them to myself. Nobody else needs to know. Nobody else will understand like I do, and he deserves to move on and grow without the mistakes of his childhood past following him like a giant cloud.

That episode was a warning to me, of sorts. A warning to watch what I share, and to ask Jake before I hit the publish button. To watch what I let the world know, and to keep the secrets that people don't need to hear. I also realized, with a sudden, sickening, thud that just by watching the show, I was partly to blame.

The next day, as I sat with my tea in hand relaxing, the smiling faces of the Gosselin children smiled back from my TV set. This time, I did the only thing that I could do in protest.

I shut it off.

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