Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Info-tainment or Just a Freak Show?

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I love the TV show Jon and Kate + 8.  I’ve mentioned the family and kids here before because I love the show that much.  And I don’t know why.  I am sure if I had that many children and they were doing that much whining I’d be running out the door, train ticket in one hand and a suitcase of multiple disguises in another.

Anyway you slice it, that’s a lot of damn kids.

But what is just as entertaining are the viewers who watch the show.  You have your normal average viewers (like me), then you have your fans (who obsessively watch and need memorabilia to commemorate that 9pm hour that they religiously watch) and then you have your Stans. 

What’s a Stan?   A Stan is a stalker + fan.  It can also be a riff on the 2000 Eminem song that talks about a fictional fan who idolizes the rapper.

The Gosselins have a lot of Stans.

I first realized it when they had a message board on Discovery Health/TLC about the show.  There were people who talked about the show, what they viewed on it.  And then there were people who talked about the Gosselins like they knew them.  Maybe they did, I don’t know.  They put up information not just about the television show but speculated about the family that didn’t appear on the show and put up their names as well.  They  raised questions about the money received for a college fund when the sextuplets were babies and gave the specific location to where the Gosselins lived (on the show they only allude to the family living somewhere in Pennsylvania). 

Finally it got so bad that the tv show’s forum was shut down.  But it didn’t stop the Stans.  They were also on the forum for the Gosselins show on TV without Pity and soon that one was closed to comments.  But by then the cat was out of the bag and blogs of love and hate dedicated to the Gosselins were popping up all over the net.

Months before the episode aired about Jon’s hairplugs they talked about it.  Now the big wait is for the episode where Jon & Kate reveal their new home, although a few forums have discussed the size and location already.

So now I’m beginning to wonder is this show infotainment or has it become a 21st Century Freak show?

Freak shows used to be popular in the latter half of the 19th century all the way up to the mid 20th century.  People would go to freak shows to see “freaks of nature”.  Hermaphrodites, deformed animals, and people who could do astounding things like eat swords or play with fire.  We didn’t have the Jerry Springer show back then, so these caravans would travel around the country, astounding and horrifying the American people.

Back in the 1940s the Dionne Quintuplets were part of a Government established type of freak show.  Taken away from rural poor parents, their doctor was their guardian for the first nine years of their lives.  While young the five girls lived in an observation gallery/nursery called Quintland where thousands of strangers came to stare at them.  They starred in four movies and the likenesses was used to hawk merchandise like corn syrup and Quaker Oats to a public who treated their birth like a sideshow. 

In 1997 the  surviving Quints emerged from their self induced seclusion to give advice to the McCaugheys, the new parents of septuplets.

Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario, our place of birth. We were displayed as a curiosity three times a day for millions of tourists. To this day we receive letters from all over the world. To all those who have expressed their support in light of the abuse we have endured, we say thank you. And to those who would seek to exploit the growing fame of these children, we say beware.

Perhaps it might be advice that the Gosselins may come to hearken as more of their life seems to become fodder for bloggers and the paparzzi is invading their space.  

Or maybe they will opt for a life of less luxury and more normalcy as even TV critics begin to ponder if its all about their real life and more about free gifts and trips .  Child actor advocate Paul Petersen sees the show as exploitation of  it’s young stars.  Even the bloggers who love to hate the show say they worry about child safety and exploitation.  One blogger who would like to see the show canceled is the sister of Kate’s sister-in-law, Jodi, who used to appear on the show.

In the end it might be the fans of the show who have the final say.  Although there hasn’t been word yet on when the Gosselins want to end the show there is a petition online of those who want to see it come to an end.

But then if they cancel it, where in the world are we going to see all this cuteness?




Written by rentec

5 December, 2008 at 5:00 pm

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