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Wow....Overnight Ratings In......

I'm trying to figure out why Jon & Kate Plus 8 drew such record ratings last night.  I mean, I'm not surprised, and I know WHY.  Heck, I watched it.  So, your honor, I plead guilty.  But, sheesh, what does it say about us as a society in the larger sense?  We are either voyeuristic and enjoy wallowing in other's implosions or we as a society just don't have as many shared experiences as we used to.  We are all so fragmented in our interests and outlooks that we'll come together in the most tenuous ways - like over the troubles of others.  Really has me thinking.....Click here to read about the ratings.

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And so what's the difference between watching a show like this and following Lovina's life?  Either way we are interested in what is happening in someone's life.  What's the difference?

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I don't know....I guess nothing, really...Jon & Kate are just a ginormous example...

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Although there are some similarities there are also major differences between "reality " shows and a newspaper column.  First, a reality show is no more real than a cartoon or a regular TV show; it is merely unscripted and uses amateurs in lieu of actors.  The filming comes first, often in imposed situations. Then the story is patched together of selected footage, special effects, cutting in and out of scenes, and background music. 

Reality television is like a photo-shopped picture: manipulated not real.  Even if one's goal was to document a situation, the intrusivness of the medium - camera operators, directors, support personal, audio enhancement, lights, staging, would distort the authenticity.  Since the goal of entertainment TV is increased ratings, not factual presentations, true reality is left way behind.  Yes, the finished product can appear to be reality, exactly the same way scripted shows can seem true to life -- because they are manufactured to create that image.

Compare all that packaging to a columnist writing at a table.  Yes, he or she could make something more dramatic, or less embarrassing, or completely fabricated.  There could be pressure from the editor to slant things a particular way.  Mostly, however, the columist is sharing what they want to from a less distorted environment.  No one is likely to act differently than normal in an attempt to be featured in the column.  Most often, no one would even know it is happening -- only that mom was writing something at the table, maybe a letter.

The gorgeous photography for the cookbooks and the home-style videos Kevin has filmed are a little intrusive, but with the family unable to appear in either,  disruption is minimized.  Unlike how many people respond to televison shows, cookbook readers and video viewers aren't able to choose who is the cute one, or the one with an attitude, or even have much upon which to decide a favorite. 

So in the end, although we know some things about an Amish family, it is entirely different than what we think we know about people appearing on reality TV shows.

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My brain must be on hiatus these days because site visitors are making some goods points while I snooze through.   Kay, excellent post.  The difference between a newspaper column and a reality TV show is, as you say, the CAMERA.  The presence of a camera changes things so that reality becomes acting, whether it is intentional or not.  This is one of the big reasons the Supreme Court has been dragging its feet on allowing cameras in the courtroom.  The worry is that attorneys and even the judges will begin "mugging" for the cameras and not really behave as their "normal" selves...that may be okay in Laguna Beach or even Jon & Kate or the Roloffs, but not the highest court in the land....

dcharrison's picture

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We must be in the minority!  I know there were at least 8 of us that didn't tune in & I have never watched it.  Then again, I am just not into reality TV - have enough reality in my own life without watching it on TV.  I want comedy for the most part when I watch TV.

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I know us too, we don't watch TV.  I wake each morning to the morning radio show from our local Christian radio station; they have a topic of the day and then people call in... 

Today the topic of the day was Jon and Kate and advice for helping/saving marriages.  Most callers hadn't watched the show, but had seen tabloid headlines at the grocery store.  I have to first say that I'm not a huge fan of Christian radio, but it's the best alternative for us; these morning topics often seem a bit worldly, I was not impressed when the DJ intro'd a caller's comment, saying how this couple had openned their "faith" with the world and that Satan. It just bugs me that words like "faith" and "blessings"  are PC words the world has decided to use, as to not get into trouble with such garish terms as Biblical living or Christians.  

When it comes to this couple, I just don't see this couple living and applying Biblical principals in their lives.  My husband picked up the book, he said it felt like Zondervan added the Bible verses in after the her notes were received by them, he said he didn't feel her walking daily with Christ.   

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Funny -- didn't they just renew their wedding vows last season? (In Hawaii, maybe? I don't remember. I think that's where Jon is from.)

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Not sure which season that was either, like I said, I gave up on that show a couple of years ago.  But I am a known channel surfer and have watch 'snips' here and there.  One thing I have notice through out the years is Kate body language and how before this season, she seemed curled away from Jon when they were on the couch vs always touching him somehow. I can't help but think that some of those eposides were 'staged' in more ways than one.....

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I watched it last night too.  I haven't been watching this show the past couple of years.  Their 'reality' got out of control when they were going on vacations left and right, and getting things given to them that just doesn't happen in normal life. I can't talk for the rest of America, but I watch it to see if the 'question that all wanted to know' would be answer like the trailers said. Anyone who has been out and about can't help but see the headlines on the different magizines.  This week-end alone I think Kate was on at least 3 covers at the check out counter. While waiting in line at one store a lady I never met started a conversation with me about Kate.  After watching last night, not sure now who I feel the most sorry for Kate or John, but one thing is for sure, the kids are the ones who will suffer the most. Also did you notice the tension that the camera capture while the two were at the birthday party? And when Kate asked Jon to do something it was in a totally different tone from previous times?

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Yea, BK, I picked up on that tension too...Ugh, I mean, adults can act as stupid as they want, but their poor children are pawns in this bizarre, bizarre situation.....

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The divorce rate amongst couples of multiples is super high; and even higher for couples of "super multiples", (more than twins.), as a mother of twins we were told that when we found out we were having twins, not that it is important, our twins were a real surprise from God, no medical intervention. (I whole heartedly support couples who need a little extra help).

Add to that this couple MADE A DECISION to live their life publically.  Just because they had a surviving set of sextuplets, doesn't automatically rocket them into a public life.  They've made choices, that had consequences and now those consequences are being realized, and now the whole world gets to see this fall, it's sad. 

The thing that bothers me the most, after reading the book, and seeing a blip or two and reading things here and there, IMHO, they both seem rather self centered, the children will pay the price of that.  They really need to remove themselves from the media and focus on the raising of the children. 

This is the last I'll say about this family.    

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Well said, Tom! And I agree 100%!

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I agree with what Luv said. I rarely watch the show but was hoping for some glimmer of a reconcilliation between Jon and Kate. For once, Kate didn't seem like the spoiled, bossy person she normally portrays, and I actually felt sorry for her, but even more so for those kids. What a shame, and Jon almost seems resigned to the fact that their marriage is over. I'd like to see them get some marital counseling, at the very least, before throwing in the towel. I can not even imagine trying to manage all those kids on my own. They need both parents!

TomK's picture

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Well let's put a Amish twist to this - The no TV or for some Amish no media plays a big part in keeping family traditions alive and I'm sorry but familys together also for the most part.

I mean really what is it that the Amish are missing by not watching TV?  Jon & Kates dirty laundry?  "Well by golly, Emma the cows are just goin' have to wait for milking - Jon & Kate are on..."

It seems as a society we are letting hollywood mass media hype and advertising make us miss the one thing we can't get back and that is time!

Maybe that is what us 'englishers' find so attractive in the Amish, is time, time they use with each other instead of sitting watching make believe.

Time spent speaking and listening to each other on a personal basis, time spent playing checkers with the young one, time spent showing Susie how to bake a cake, time spent showing little Johnny how to change his own tire or fix a water pump, time spent comforting, caring for a old family member instead of some nursing home, etc...

Time - we don't have much of it and most people are wasting it by letting real life slip by.

 

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that Id like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
Id save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
Ive looked around enough to know
That youre the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things
 you want to do
Once you find them
Ive looked around enough to know
That youre the one I want to go
Through time with

 

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Well, I will speak for myself on this matter.... I figure many people wanted to watch to see any potential cat-fights, name-calling, and that sort of thing.  Heck, my mom has NEVER watched the show, but tuned in last night.

 Personally, the whole thing bothers me.  I rarely watch the show, but I have enjoyed it in the past.  I wanted an inkling that the rumors were wrong, that they were working things out, or whatever.  I wanted to see hope.  I mean, they are just a smidge older than me and my husband, and dealing with small children, too (although 4 times the amount!).  I just wanted to see the happy ending.   And I was saddened and disappointed, because I really think it is over.