Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shaking Your Head and Sighing Over Ignorant Parents

Some writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shakes his head and sighs over the ignorance of parents who just don't know what's best for their own kids:

Just got this press release from Parents magazine. I can only shake my head and sigh:

When it comes to TV in 2009, no television show got more attention than Jon & Kate Plus 8. As everyone knows by now, 2009 was the year the Gosselins joined the not-so-elite ranks of real life families that completely fell apart while the reality TV cameras filmed their every move.

Parents magazine recently did a survey of 1000 moms to see whether or not reality TV family "curse" would affect their decision to let cameras film their families. The magazine's "What Do Moms Want" survey found that, almost half, 47%, of moms would still consider letting their family star in a reality show. Looks like those reality TV cameras will keep on rollin'.

(Emphasis from Post-Gazette.)

If only these parents could be as enlightened about the dangers of reality as the world-weary, head-shaking-and-sighing writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette! Then they'd know just how downright awful and damaging reality television shows are.

Reality television destroys families!

Of course it's not only the Pittsburgh PG author who stands in sober judgment of these irresponsible parents (should their children be taken from them now, or should we wait until they actually sign the reality show contracts?)-- check out the wording of the press release. Right off the bat, the reader is reminded of "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Which was a disaster. The characters from that show were all over the news this year. Saying the family "completely fell apart" is a judgment I am not qualified to make. But Jon and Kate are divorcing.

This is apparently not uncommon for parents of "multiples." According to Dr. Charles Hux, an obstetrician and author of a book called Nine Healthy Months,

"There's a significant increase in the divorce rate among parents of multiples versus traditional parents."

So, the chances were good that Jon and Kate weren't going to make it all the way 'til death did them part, anyway.

The second sentence of the press release implies that there have been hundreds if not thousands of families that have fallen apart on reality tv shows. The Jon and Kate experience was common, or at least not uncommon. There is a "rank" of "real life families that completely fell apart while the reality TV cameras filmed their every move."

But, how many other families can you name that fell apart while reality tv cameras filmed their every move. Hulk Hogan's family comes to mind. But for crying out loud, that family was messed up long before the reality cameras showed up. Hulk Hogan was a professional wrestler. And, how much of that family's deterioration was caught on tape?

There are rumors that the Roloffs of "Little People, Big World" might be separating, but those are unconfirmed, so I'm not counting them.

Maybe the Teutuls of "American Chopper"-- apparently the son left to start his own business, but is that family really falling apart? That's stretching the definition, and those are all adults anyway. What family in any business doesn't have some discord to deal with?

I can't think of any others.

But I can think of plenty of families who have remained intact-- who didn't completely fall apart while the cameras rolled. Starting with The Osbournes, the royalty of the reality show families. They were unusual, but always portrayed as loving on the show. Their empire and reach has done nothing but expand in the years since that show aired. And Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne are still together-- the kids are out of rehab. They seem relatively stable.

The Kardashians haven't fallen apart.

Like most families who are the subject of a reality television, the Kardashian family hasn't fallen apart.

How about the family of Luther Campbell from 2 Live Crew-- are they still together?

Jon and Kate Gosselin's fellow TLC stars are also faring pretty well. The Duggars are still together. So are the Roloffs of "Little People, Big World" (as far as we know at this point-- see above). Is Buddy Valastro's family from "Cake Boss" still intact? Check-- another happy reality tv family. How about the Hayes's of "Table For 12"? Still together.

And of course there's my favorite reality show couple, Jen Arnold and Bill Klein of "The Little Couple." They are very much still together, and very much in love.

Bill Klein, Jen Arnold, and Rocky from "The Little Couple" are another typical reality show family-- in that they are intact and loving.

The fact is that most families depicted on reality shows are loving, and remain intact. Those whose families "fall apart" do so for a myriad of reasons-- not because the cameras are rolling. So I suppose one should shake their head and sigh over the fact that 47% of moms would allow their families to appear on reality shows. But only because that number is so small.

Kardashian pic source.
Little Couple pic source.


Anonymous said...

To clarify, the emphasis was in the press release, not mine.
I've also posted a response at:
Rob Owen

Ricky Sprague said...

Rob, thanks for the response to my blog post, and for the clarification about the emphasis in the press release. I very much appreciate it.

In the comments section of your blog, you stated,

"Miles, obviously not all families on reality shows fall apart. My biggest concern, as documented in the past, is that children should not be put on reality shows. Period. They have no choice in having their lives made public. It is wrong of parents to force kids into reality TV. Moreover, it's difficult for me to see how a produced reality show is helpful to any family. It may benefit their wallets and their fame but those are fleeting benefits not long-lasting benefits."

To which I replied:

"It is wrong of parents to force kids into reality TV."

Do you also believe it's wrong of parents to "force" religion on kids? How about politics? Ever see kids at anti-abortion or anti-war rallies? Is it wrong to teach kids that "meat is murder," or that "vegetarians are nuts"? Kids don't have a choice in that, either-- and there are plenty of people who think that's wrong. At what point do parents get to stop making decisions on how to raise their own children? The point at which you have some vague, hypothetical feeling that something might be bad for them?

Just because it's difficult for YOU to see how something might benefit or help a family doesn't mean it's not beneficial or helpful. I can think of at least one way in which it might help to have a reality show documenting your family life-- video that the family can look back on.

And why oh why are "fleeting" benefits bad? If you're lucky, your life is full of benefits, fleeting and long-lasting.