Duggars not bad people, but their actions may have unintended consequencesDec 14th, 2009 | By Zach | Category: Blogs, Featured Articles, Opinions
by Zach Becker
I wrote an article on the Duggar family, stars of TLC’s 18 Kids and Counting, and felt I needed to follow up after comments indicated a misunderstanding of my thoughts.
For one, the original article was not intended as an indictment on the Duggars, but rather ABC.com for bringing in environmentalism as an argument against having a large family. I thought the authors strayed far from the topic at hand (the birth of the Duggar’s 19th child) and inserted their own tilted perspective onto this so-called news article.
Actually, it is kind of scary to think that with the EPA’s declaration of carbon dioxide as a pollutant (don’t tell that to plants), some might try to use this as a justification to institute population controls like we see in China. Obviously, that is the general idea the author’s of that article were taking when they discussed “carbon legacies” when citing the tons of carbon dioxide those children will emit in their lifetime. Very scary, indeed, but this is a topic for another day.
Getting back to the Duggar’s, though, after watching several episodes of the show, they seem like good people; perhaps a bit odd, but then again they do have 19 children (and live in Arkansas). Of course, we all know how “real” reality television is (see divorce of Gosselin, Jon, and Gosselin, Kate).
That said, while I think they originally had good intentions when they started this huge family, I think at some point they quit worrying about what was good for the children and started worrying about how they could get more viewers (and thus more money and fame). The more children they produce, the more popular they become.
According to a Dallas Morning News Article, the Duggars were first noticed by the national media in 2003 when an AP photographer snapped their picture as the parents lugged their 14 children on their way to the voting polls. The picture ran on the cover of the New York Times.
In 2004, the Duggars starred in a USA channel documentary (child count at that point was 14 with the 15th on the way). They appeared in numerous documentaries as they cranked out two more babies before landing their own reality program 17 Kids and Counting in 2008 (changed to 18 Kids and Counting for season 2 and sure to be 19 Kids and Counting soon).
Since gaining media popularity, the Duggar’s moved up to a 7,000 square feet house. All of the appliances were provided by TLC and other sponsors. They appear to live frugally (at least when the cameras are rolling), but despite claims of success in real estate, it is doubtful they would enjoy the same standard of living had fame not supplemented their income. I also find it interesting that they seem to spurn watching television, yet parade their children in front of the cameras daily.
I do not think the Duggars are inherently bad people; quite the contrary. However, they did seize an opportunity for fame and fortune and continue to crank out child after child to feed the media beast. They can claim to be extolling the virtues of large families, but perhaps they should take a look at what their actions are doing to their own children. Beyond the traditional challenges of living in a huge family, their children are also being put behind a camera for a national audience to sit and gawk at. Only a fool would say that this will not have unintended consequences at some point.
Reality television has enhanced the lives of the Duggars by providing a comfortable standard of living. However, it has also spurred the perhaps harmful expansion of their family size and put the lives of 19 children under a spotlight which could prove psychologically damaging.