Monday, May 25, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus 8: Hang 'em from the highest tree

I just finished the season opener of Jon & Kate Plus 8. It was painful to watch, especially for anyone who has gone through the breakup of a marriage. Clearly they are each putting on the Brave Face that I remember so well from my own life, and that, perhaps, makes it harder for me at least to see. I get the sense that they are both doing the best they can in a crummy situation.

Meanwhile, the citizens are milling about yelling, Jump! Jump! Or maybe, to make the metaphor I'm reaching for clearer, Off With Their Heads!

I am astonished at the hysteria that this family has generated in the tabloid press, and thus on line, and therefore in Twitters and Facebooks etc. etc. etc. For a while public sentiment was against Jon, the doubledealing, cheating, oh-my-god-he-got-hair-plugs, what-does-he-do-for-a-living-anyway husband. But now, now Kate is on the rack because...because--

...because she's a woman and she isn't meek. I have a couple of book shelves full of most worthy historical assessments of the role of women, with titles like Disorderly Conduct, The Female Grotesque, and (one of my person favorites) The Madwoman in the Attic. They are all a testimony to the fact that in our culture, we have not wanted our women bold and beautiful and we have certainly not wanted them smart and articulate. Kate Gosselin fails on all four points, and thus she must be chastened, scourged, and maybe even burned at the stake.

As always, it amazes, saddens and disgusts me that it is mostly women who are casting the stones. Lord, how we love to hate each other. And we're so good at it, aren't we? While little boys bash each other over the head to establish dominance in the sandbox, we girls do it with sly innuendo and backbiting. We're the master (if I can use that word) of the verbal assault because really, that's the only ammunition our culture has allowed us.

I don't know what will happen to the Gosselins. I wish them well. I wish their period of time being scapegoats for the American shadow psyche is brief. I wish we weren't all so fucking eager to raise the flag and then, just when it's flying high, pull it down to trample it in the muck. I don't know--I guess I wish we weren't so human.

7 comments:

  1. While I agree with you completely on the backbiting and sniping (I was a women's studies minor in college), I actually stopped watching JK8 awhile ago because I flat-out couldn't stand to see them anymore. When the show began, it wasn't too bad, and it was actually interesting, but as time passed, I began to dislike them both immensely, him for being a wimp, and her for being just horrid. I read the People interview with her last week when I was in the doctor's office, and I think their marriage is going to fail because of one telling comment - 'I gave him everything he wanted.' That sums it up right there - his spoiled childishness, her superiority complex, their inability to see the marraige as a partnership rather than a parent-child relationship. When you see that kind of thing with the roles reversed, it's still inattractive and pathetic. I'm a SAHM, and we still have an equal partnership. I hope they can pull themselves together, but it certainly doesn't look good.

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  2. Oy! I feel for the both of them. As you say, it was painful to watch them - they couldn't look each other in the eyes. Made me squirm. I'm sure both of them are at fault to some degree - isn't it always that way. I understand her point of view, she's doing what she needs to do to make money and making the most of this opportunity BUT I also understand Jon and how he finds himself having quit his job and staying home full time while his wife is off on book tours, etc. I know I get envious of my husband's business trips, why shouldn't he. THey are no different than any of us and it is a shame the press has wriggled their slimy fingers in there and helped to muck it all up. I wish them both well and I hope they find a way to work out their problems and stay together.

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  3. Astarte: Thanks for the comment, and I just subscribed to your blog. We lit crit people need to stick together.

    Your comment made me wonder what we focus on when we watch the show. I saw all the conflict going on between Jon and Kate, but to me it was just the normal setting of a working marriage. We grumble, we bitch, we insult each other, and ultimately we have each other's backs. Anyway, for me that show wasn't about their marriage; it was about the eight kids. And it still is for me. I don't think I have any right to judge their relationship; I'm not in it.

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  4. MerlotMom: I was married to an actor and, man, was that tough in terms of having "personhood." We would go to industry parties and as soon as people heard I wasn't in the business, their eyes would dart over to the next person.

    When they said last night that they quickly became two different people--that resonated with me. And why not: aren't we supposed to grow as human beings? It's just tough that their growing pains are such fodder for the tabloids.

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  5. I can't watch reality tv- I get enough reality every day thanks you!

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  6. I commented over at Midlife as well but I thought I'd post my theory on the Gosselins problems here. Jon should never have quit his job. They could have still continued the show and Jon could have had his identity outside the family. Guys tend to define themselves by their careers and being a stay-at-home-dad is not a career to his male brain. Obviously nothing in a marriage is always one persons fault, but I think that was when the major marital problems began. My 2 cents.

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  7. Why would anybody say it that way, you can easily get your point across in a polite and courteous way. Lets all just get a long.
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    kevin

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So--whaddaya think?