Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This confounds me. It really does.

As I stood at the checkout counter at a local bookstore, I came across a People magazine cover featuring a headline that confounded me. Here it is: Kate Strikes Back!! You won't be surprised to hear I didn't purchase it.

There she was, the ubiquitous Kate Gosselin. The subheads exclaimed: She's mortified about his affair with Hailey, feels like 'it's a fifteen-year-old I'm getting divorced from,' and finally, her explanation for Jon's behavior? 'Aliens have taken him away.'

I have never once watched an episode of this horrifying "reality" show featuring the Gosselin family. I can't think of anything that would compel me to do so. But even though that's the case, the media has done a bang-up job educating extraordinarily disinterested parties like me about every move the unhappy couple makes. At this point, I have to wonder: leaving people like me out of the equation, aren't even the fans of this show sick of these people yet?

I wondered what exactly Kate was striking back at these days. Could it be "the media?" The same media she invited into her home, her marriage and her family life; the media that has taken over her life and splashed it across the tabloid pages, not unlike the magazine cover she herself posed for this week? I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for any of the adults in this little melodrama. The kids yes, the parents, no. Unfortunately, my feeling is that the kids don't have enough hours left in their lives for the therapy they're going to need with these two chuckleheads for parents.

The part that really, really gets to me, though, is Kate's best-selling book. Remember that? Just eleven months ago, this horror show found its way to the printed page and her fans snapped it up. Where do you start with something like this? Let's go to the logical place: the dedication.

Kate dedicated this to her husband: "...Now I know you meant it when you said in your vows that you would be here 'through new and challenging experiences.'" Charming. The introduction talks about God's plan for them and how fulfilled they are as parents. Published by Zondervan, a Christian publisher, each chapter opens with a quote from the Bible. (I'm sure the Zondervan folks are wondering what the heck happened in the past few months.)

Let's recap. The book pubs in October, 2008 and by June, 2009, the couple has separated. I don't know about you, but that sounds a bit like fraud to me. To your publisher and to the book-buying public, you are a Christian, spiritual, loving couple. Eight months later, the marriage is over and the husband has a girlfriend?

Let's go back a little further and consider the marketing savvy of this couple. Their sextuplets arrived in May, 2004. Fifteen months later, Discovery Health taped a few television "specials" about the family and by October 2006, production had begun on a regular television show. The show films three days a week and has been on the air regularly for more than two years. All this, while Kate was apparently drafting a book where they thank Jesus for the gifts he gave them and the strength to raise them.

I know we like to watch misery. We wait for the car crashes at a race track. I think Kate and Jon and the rest of them have shared enough of their own particular type of train wreck with us, don't you? Time to move on. Time to let someone else take the reins and gallop into our collective consciousness with their own particular kind of crazy. I'm sure there are lots of them out there, just waiting for that camera crew to show up.

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