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I'm a great fan of a lot of shows on the Discovery Channel. Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs just makes me happy. I enjoy watching the shennanagins on Myth Busters. Man vs. Wild makes me appreciate my television. And Graham and I almost signed up for The Alaska Experiment last year because we liked the first season so much. (We're not as impressed with the second season.)

But my favorite Discovery Channel show is Deadliest Catch. I've only been watching it for a few years now, but I've grown attached to some of the people on the ships. Edgar and Jake on The Northwestern, Crosby and Lenny and Monte on The Wizard, Josh and Freddie on the Cornelia Marie. And everyone on The Time Bandit, especially the Hillstrands.

So it was with much joy that last week, Graham and I discovered the Time Bandit website. (There's also a Northwestern site, a Cornelia Marie site, and the Wizard.) On the website, in addition to a lot more information about the ship and the personalities on it. And there's a store where you can buy Time Bandit teeshirts and baseball caps and backpacks. The captians of the Time Bandit know that they've got a good thing going, and they're not about to let this opportunity pass them buy. Hell, it's likely that I'll make a purchase at the Time Bandit store one day, as Graham tends to wear black tee shirts with skulls on them already.

Until maybe a year or so ago, I didn't know a thing about Jon & Kate + 8. The only reason they landed on my radar was that I've been an LA Ink afficionado since that show started (and I'll talk about those reality stars in a second), and LA Ink is on TLC. It was hard to miss commercials for J&K+8. I asked Graham about the premise of the show, and he'd seen a few of the early episodes and gave me a rough breakdown of the premise and the people in it. His basic run down was that the dad was beaten down by the mom, but that was understandable given the circumstances of eight kids(!) and someone needing to take control of the chaos. He said he liked it better when the kids were younger, because they were cuter. He figured there wasn't going to be more than a few more years that the parents could get out of this, so they were doing as much as they could now. I wholeheartedly agreed that if I found myself with eight children under the age of three, I too would be looking for any and every way to get financial help too, upto and including prostitution.

At any rate, until very recently, it was just another show on TLC. There are hundreds of these sorts of shows out there these days: Food Network, Travel Channel, TLC, NatGeo, etc. Some of the reality "stars" are one-offs, like the hundreds of people who have been on Dirty Jobs; some are on for years, like the captains and crew on Deadliest Catch. With the possible exception of Kat Von D, none of them really seem to break out into massive stars that have a huge media following.

My best guess is that when you go on one of these shows, how much attention you get from the world is dependent on your own marketing on the show and off, unless something dramatic happens that makes people seek out more information about you. By all accounts, the Gosslins were pretty small potatoes outside their community. They were never really bothered by the paparazzi, and though they did a lot of self-promotion, they were the fourth rated show on TLC. Not exactly tiny, but certainly not the A list. My understanding is that a LOT of their television audience were kids, who liked watching other kids on TV.

I suspect that it's no coincidence that the increased scrutiny on the Gosslins started around the same time that Nadia Suleman had her babies. The public gave the media permission to intrude on the life of a person giving birth to a high number of multiples, and the media started to look for others. A family who had already allowed some intrusion into their lives seemed like fair enough game, and enough people were tut-tuting about exploiting the children for financial gain to make the parents evil in the eye of the public.

I saw my first and only episode of Jon & Kate + 8 on Monday. It was pretty sad to see, and I really felt for those kids. In particular, I was struck-not by the sit down interviews with the parents--but by the small kids playing and pretending to be interviewed on TV. Those little ones have never really known any other sort of life, so having the cameras on them all the time isn't unusual for them. But they're sextuplets. There's no such thing, as "normal life" for kids in their situation.

At any rate, I'm not quite sure what I think. I do know that I was manipulated into caring about two people that I could have given a rat's ass about six months ago. I do know that I don't really have an opinion on which side I should take. I do know that I don't know if cutting off the show is the best thing for the kids, given a) finances for single parents of 8 in the midst of a legal battle aren't all that great, and b) that they seem to like it and don't really know any other sort of life.

I also know this: I'm seriously, seriously thinking about getting a tattoo from Hannah Aitchison or Kim Saigh from LA Ink. I know that both of them do unbelievable color work, and their styles seem to match what I want for my next tattoo. There are probably dozens of tattoo artists out there that would also work, and maybe I'll hunt high and low and find one closer to home (there was a guest artist at Scorpion studios back in January when I got my tattoo touched up whose portfolio I really liked). But I've seen Hannah and Kim tattoo literally dozens of people, and I've really liked what I've seen. It may be that the only way I can get the tattoo is to go on the show, thereby exposing myself to criticism and scrutiny and my own little brand of self-promotion. I'd actually prefer to do it off camera, as I'm not particularly interested in having my right thigh filmed for three plus hours, but if that's the only way I can access those busy women's time, then so be it.


( 14 comments — Say something )
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Oh no. The Gosselins were by no means small potatos, and the kids in their audience were watching with their parents -- online media, largely unprofessional writers and privately run blogs, have been all over them for YEARS, and the local PA papers in their town and near them have been also been talking about them, offline and online, for years. TWOP shut down the thread devoted to them (possibly just because of the vitriol spewed there, although that sure hasn't shut down their Sandra Lee/Semi-Homemade threads last time I checked; that shit is ALL about classism, and not a little bit of misogyny. And, of course, the disastrous monstronsities she makes, such as her Kwanzaa/Hannukah cake. IMHO. :-D ), and then Gosselins Without Pity took over (http://gosselinswithoutpity.blogspot.com/). The reason they are being investigated by the PA Dept. of Labor is due to the online campaign to have them recognized as illegal exploiters of their children's labor -- they are compared to both the saga of the Dionne quintuplets and the pre-Coogan Act child actor legislative era. I was actually quite shocked at the first EW articles about them, because the authors were clearly utterly clueless about the huge and vocal (con and pro) audience for JKEight.

Chris has called Kate emotionally (and lightly physically) abusive since the first season, and refused to watch the show at all, unless I was just culling cute clips of the kids for me, and predicted their divorce timeline by the third episode of the actual series (not the documentaries they started off with).

What? I have to know about these things in order to be credible as a media literate scholar of marriage and the family. *nods* I am totally addicted to the Duggars, and just about any other family-centric show, although I can't stand the dating/wedding dress/reception dancing shows. *shrug*
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
classism and misogyny in reactions to pop culture figures? Surely you jest!!
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
*hee hee* I mean, dang, Sandra Lee really is kind of a train wreck, but some of the commentary is so transparent in how much she is resented as a "social climber."
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, and, no. Again, the Gosselins were under scrutiny WAY before Suleman. Online commentary about Suleman often referenced Kate Gosselin, among other HOM parents -- which is par for the discourse -- the Gosselins almost always are compared unfavorably to other HOM families, such as the Dilleys in particular, who allowed some filming of their family in updates over the years, but who explicitly have not sought a series. There's a whole cottage industry on TLC of HOM families (e.g. Then Came Six, which focuses on the only surviving set of African American sextuplets), and families with large numbers of kids (e.g. their series Kids by the Dozen). The Gosselins are the tip of that iceberg.

No. I'm not obsessed. I'm a scholar. :-D
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
But the cover of Us and People and Star and all of the other grocery store tabloids? I mean, it's one thing to have people ranting about you on the internet. It's another to not be able to go to the store without seeing yourself.

When I tried to go to the Kat Von D signing a few months back, the place was over packed, the line was about four hours long, and her book was totally sold out of every bookstore in Houston.

But though she'd like to be, she's not ever been the sort of person that attracts the attention of the mainstream media in such a large scale.
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
The slew of big tabloid/magazine stuff is mainly related to the latest round of scandals, but if you consider regional newspapers to be mainstream, Christian publishing to be mainstream, etc., it hasn't ever just been ranting on the internet. And the "ranting" on the internet about these folks in particular represents far better investigative journalism than any of the mainstream pieces to have come out in the last couple of months. The professional reporters are so far behind this story, they should be embarassed -- if they chose to consider any of this legitimate news in any way (and I think it's mainly the popularity of the Gosselins and their ilk that is itself the news, not the pure substance of their lives, which is not that riveting at all, except for the discussion of what constitutes child labor in a reality television setting), they should have been picking up on this stuff long before Jon got photographed at some bars...

But that's one of my pet complaints about EW writers, among others -- they are lazy, and often don't do basic research on the media they are supposed to be expert in. And they keep the flagging construction of the "fanboy" going. *rollseyes*

And Kate's book signings, as well as the audiences paying to hear her and Jon, or just her alone, have been packed, and for several years. So. She's at least on par with Kat, I'd say...
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
I will stop spamming you after this:

The Gosselins were also a semi-cottage industry on the conservative Christian speaking circuit in particular, promoting themselves through speaking gigs (where they sold photos, autographs, and asked for donations from the church audiences), and Kate has (with aid from others) written two books, and has a cookbook contract, which may be impacted by the divorce announcement... They have tried to capitalize on the family values Christian market, going so far as to quote Quiverfull discourse in the Mutiple Blessings book, although their aggressive use of fertility medicine and technology is anathema to a true Quiverfull philosophy...
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
If you get in with either of them, please let me know how you did it. I've been trying to get in with one of them for months. I may have to bite the bullet and do it on the show if that's the only way. I really want Kim, but Hannah would be great as well. I love their color work and I'm going to get a very bright floral piece. Should be right up Kim's alley. I'm doing it either on my back or on my ankle, but I'd also rather not be on the show. Might be worth it though if I can get in with one of them.
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
I think the key to Hannah is to book through her Chicago studio instead of High Voltage. I'm pretty sure that she goes home to Chicago as soon as taping for LA Ink ends. BUT, she has a huge backlog of clients that wait for her, so it takes awhile. I'm not so sure about Kim, because I'm not sure where she spends her off-season time.

Graham's friend Suzanne was tattooed by Kim on the show last season. She got a skull and crossbones with a clown nose. We haven't seen her since she got the tattoo to ask how she got on. Graham auditioned to get Cory to do a coverup (which has since been done by a guy here in Houston that we both love), and he thinks that he didn't make it because he didn't really have a compelling story.
Jun. 25th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
I'd rather not have to travel to Chicago to get it. Adds to the price a bit! I'm hoping my story is compelling enough. It's for my Gramma and my girls, and Edgar's birth story might make good TV, what with pics of her in the NICU, though I don't really want pics of her now on TV.
Jun. 25th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
I'd have to travel either way, unless I happen to be in town for something else.

Mine isn't a particularly compelling story other than I like fireworks, and I want some bursting on my leg under my lightning bolt. If push comes to shove, I could say something about Relampago's lightning bolt and how I'd like a green (for Celosa) and wine colored (for Crianza) fireworks underneath. But really I just want a field of fireworks, because fireworks are pretty and make me happy.
Jun. 26th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
Suzanne and her husband are industry....so it might be that she just knew the right people
Jun. 25th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
Are you completely recovered from your surgery yet?

It will be 103 here today. Ugh.
Jun. 25th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yep. I don't even feel the incisions anymore. I was noticing that the largest of the scars is pretty much healed now.

It was 104 at IAH yesterday. I think it's supposed to be the same today.
( 14 comments — Say something )