Jon & Kate legal drama raises interesting questions

Oct 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary, Opinions

by Mike Courson

I avoid “reality” television like former President Bush avoided books and Vietnam. The Jon & Kate Plus 8 saga, however, has recently crossed over into the ‘interesting’ category.

There are many allegations coming from all parties involved, and I am not hip enough to know about all of them. After watching Jon Gosselin on Larry King this weekend, I am able to string together a few questions about the entire drama.

First, it remains to be seen who is the true monster in this story. Did TLC, in all its corporate glory, find a couple it could exploit? According to Jon Gosselin, that is just what happened. Naturally, parents of eight children could use a few easy bucks. Jon alleges he was not allowed to consult an attorney per the contract, so does anyone really expect corporate attorneys to draft a fair contract? Did the Gosselins really know what they were getting into?

Then there is Jon’s behavior. Though I do not make exJon and Kate plus court datecuses for such behavior, let everyone remember that sudden celebrity and access to money is often a road to infidelity and/or substance abuse. It is easy for the common person to say he will never do drugs or cheat on his wife. Put in a situation where attractive women are constantly available, however, and many a strong men have broken.

Again, I do not condone that behavior, but it would seem odd that America wants to chastise a man for doing what so many men in history have done; seemingly a bit of human nature, if the corporation truly is the monster in the room.

Then there are the legal issues. Did TLC have the right permits? Permits are not necessary to film documentaries. Jon Gosselin’s statements prove that these shows are not ‘reality’ at all. If they are directed, rehearsed, written, etc., then TLC would have needed a permit to shoot the show when it seems they did not. Another case of a corporation trying to cut corners to make some money?

On the matter of money, what are the eight children being paid? According to Jon, the children are paid nothing directly. The family of 10 makes about $1 million a year, to be divided evidently how Jon and Kate see fit. Some experts say the show brings TLC $186 million a year. With so much income generated by the show, how is the family, especially kids who should not be employees at their respective ages, not compensated accordingly?

Finally, there is the issue of renaming the show. According to Jon, he made the decision to cancel the show on some of the grounds stated above. He says the papers were filed before TLC decided to pull his name from the show. He seemed rather adamant about this, and it would be easy to prove. Will we find that TLC is merely pulling his name from the show to undermine his attempts to cancel the show for the sake of his children?

As this show and others have proven, ‘reality’ shows are a joke. Though the Gosselins may be repugnant characters willing to sell the privacy of their children, what about the corporation that would offer to buy such a thing? Though the story of this family of 10 has never interested me, the new legal issues have caught my attention. Will the verdict point towards Jon Gosselin’s lack of character or something far more sinister: the character of a network willing to exploit a family, and the Americans who would enjoy such a concept?

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  1. Thousands of kids around the world are dying EVERY DAY of starvation and curable diseases. Why on earth are we so focused on the wellbeing of these 8 indulged, healthy and apparently happy kids. I acknowledge that perhaps there could be problems down the road for the Gosselin children due to their family circumstances, but perhaps the world’s concern for them is over the top. I do not understand why there are hundreds of people posting on blogs and websites daily, lamenting the terrible lives of Mady, Cara, Joel etc. How about the kids working 10 hours a day in sweatshops in third world countries? What about the hundreds of thousands of kids orphaned by Aids – or wose yet dying of it? Maybe we should think about the dozens of kids in our own neighborhoods who are victims of sexual abuse? Thousands of kids in America die of cancer every year. I seriously think we need to adjust our priorities and let the Gosselins sort out their own lives.