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What media coverage of Jon & Kate says about us

After ten years of marriage, Jon and Kate Gosselin of “John & Kate Plus 8″ game filed for divorce. Any family separating after years of sharing their lives together would be a sad sight. Yet for the Gosselins, this has become a terrible media circus.

From “Larry King Live” to “The View,”  Jon and Kate have both told their side of the disaster that this divorce has become. Both have thrown allegations and expressed their outrage and anger. A hiatus was proposed when the divorce was announced. Jon and Kate requested privacy to work out the issues that the family faced, but instead of a time of quiet reflection, a media extravaganza took place.

Jon and Kate are both adults and are responsible for their own actions, but how far has the media gone to escalate an already difficult situation? When TLC announced that it was going to change the show to “Kate Plus 8,” Jon immediately responded with a cease and desist order demanding that all filming of the children stop. He stated:

“And I — the reason I don’t think it’s healthy for them is that we’re going through a divorce right now. And I don’t think it should be televised. And I think my kids should be taken off the show.”

Suddenly, despite years of filming, John is concerned with the exploitation of his family.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Kate responded by making the following statement on the website:

“I’m saddened and confused by Jon’s public media statements. Jon has never expressed any concerns to me about our children being involved in the show and, in fact, is on the record as saying he believes the show benefits our children and was taping on Friday with the kids.”

Jon may not be as media savvy as Kate, but he is well aware that to continue to profit from his family, he must at least outwardly appear to be a caring and concerned parent at all times. This of course conflicts with his clear desire for freedom. Jon has been photographed on exotic vacations and judging bikini contests in Las Vegas, something in complete contradiction to the Ward Cleaver image he needs to maintain.

Kate has made it clear that her first concern is her children. There was media speculation about an affair with her bodyguard, but such gossip never really escalated, because she has never placed herself in a situation where it could be taken seriously. Those that continue to attack her base their complaints on her supposedly controlling, OCD-like behaviour.

In fact, much of the criticism Kate faces is strictly grounded in misogyny. We claim to live in a post-feminist world, but when a woman is assertive and successful in her career, many see it as a threat to patriarchy. Not only is Kate a reality star, she is an author and has been giving speeches for some time now. Her latest book, a cookbook, has had its release delayed until the issue of her troubling marriage is settled.

Kate realized that she must pursue other avenues to ensure that she remains financially soluble. While many judge her decision to continue to the show, few are considering the reality of clothing, housing and feeding eight children. The home that the children live in still has a mortgage of over seven hundred thousand dollars and the family still owns its first home, which also has a mortgage. Kate presents herself as a realist. No matter the commentary from the outside, she is well aware that no one else is stepping up to pay the bills.

Both Jon and Kate claim to be communicating privately through e-mail, text messages and the phone, yet each time there is an issue in their divorce, both present their side to the media. The media, of course, is more than happy to feast on this disaster. Recently, Kate accused Jon of removing over two hundred thousand dollars from their joint checking account, thus leaving her unable to pay the bills. Jon’s lawyer responded by stating:

“[He] has not withdrawn any money for his own remuneration with the exception of the past several months wherein he believes he only withdrew approximately $175,000 which is less than ten percent of the gross revenues paid the Gosselins,”

Kate has taken legal action in an attempt to have the money placed back in their joint account. It is certain that when the judge makes a ruling on this latest disagreement, it will quickly become front page news for many entertainment magazines. Despite statements that both and Jon and Kate need to put the children first from commentators like Lisa Ling on “The View,” such sentiments ring hollow when it is plain to see that is a race to reveal the latest acrimony between the two. Is it any wonder that Jon and Kate have been a trending topic on Twitter off and on for awhile now?

There can be no doubt that genuine anger exists between Jon and Kate, but the continual back and forth that is being played out for public entertainment is definitely problematic. The sixtuplets are too young to comprehend what is occurring, but one day they will certainly see at least a part of the massive amount of footage that their parents are building.

Despite the supposed universal concern about the welfare of the children, neither the media, or their parents, seem to have their best interest at heart. Airing the family business is bad enough when it involves a neighbourhood, but in the case of Jon and Kate, it has magnified to become part of the national conversation. “Law and Order” has even gone as far as to create a fictional episode based on the current Gosselin disaster.

I suspect that long after the divorce degree becomes final, the Gosselins will continue to be front and center in the headlines. We claim to value family and long for the days in which “family values” were a priority, but our fixation on the Jon and Kate debacle certainly proves otherwise. Happiness and contentment are understood to be boring. Just as an accident will cause a traffic jam, so too does the drama between Jon and Kate attract its share of attention. We may say we care about the children, but obviously it is the acrimony that is fuelling this media blitz. So, what about the children indeed? The media does, after all, have ratings to concern itself with.

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Renee Martin

Renee Martin lives in Canada and writes the famous Womanist Musings blog. She is as interested in socio-political issues as she is in television.

4 thoughts on “What media coverage of Jon & Kate says about us

  1. Has an extremely biased feminist slant on it. Although it is agreed that women are under and/ or mis-represented it does not justify such reverse discrimination.

  2. First off, thank you. I found this article by googling, “who is the media to judge jon and kate gosselin”. I am a 24 year old straight guy and although I enjoyed the show I would not complain if it were canceled immediately without showing anymore footage. This relationship had its problems with kate being extremely demanding and jon being extremely “whipped”. That is not a judgement on either, just an observation over the years. These two personalities actually tend to mesh and compromise naturally through time. Yet, the “media” has torn this family apart, offering them money in the face of losing their jobs to come on their shows and blast eachother for ratings. Every single host/guest/moron on a “news” or gossip channel has stated “what we want to know is how are the kids going to be affected”, “all we care about are the kids”, etc… Yeah, your “holier than thou” speeches are really doing a lot of good while baiting them into a war of words and dangling money in front of them at the same time. Say what you will, but 99.9% of the choices we make in this life are impacted by money. Who are we to judge this family? They should be exploited because they took advantage of an opportunity to get paid while attending to an extremely demanding job of taking care of all of these children at once? I totally agree with your stance and I was disheartened reading all other ignorant blog posts/comments just bashing one side or the other. Is it so hard to respect both parties… flaws and all? I for one can sympathize with all members of their family including the children.

    Sorry my comment was so long, but I was just elated to find someone out their with a viewpoint other than what ABC,TLC,CBS,E! and all these other sh&^%y cable programs are ramming down the public’s throat. Although we may not have shared the exact same feeling seeing as how different we probably are, you hit the nail on the head.

  3. Me again.
    To show just how far these a-holes will go, just watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNMh4hH2QV8&feature=player_profilepage#. Ignore everything except for the question at around 30 seconds. After publicly stating numerous times that she has not fully discussed their divorce with her kids yet, and is easing them through the process her own way, these d-bags start harassing her with questions about it, as she is picking up her kids from their school bus stop. Yet, the “news” outlets paying these photographers all care about the kids, right? I would really love to punch these ______ in the face.

    Has anyone in the mass media taken our approach or do they really feel like they can just say whatever they want about (or to) a struggling family because “Hey, they put themselves out there”?

    I mean take a step back and realize what the hell you are doing to other people’s lives, when you can just as easily get the same amount of viewers spewing some other vile sh** about politicians…. atleast some of them might actually deserve it.

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