The idea was brilliantly conceived. Faced with the economic and logistic realities of suddenly having six extra mouths to feed, the two hatch a plan: get a bunch of television cameras to follow them around and film the whole thing for a television show as a way of earning some extra cash. Maybe the plan went over too well. You all know the story better than I, perhaps… family portrayed as devout Christians with a deep faith in God and down-home family values. You can sense trouble brewing already. It’s too much of a setup, isn’t it?
This all went on while I wasn’t paying attention… I’d knew nothing of the show beyond its title, really. But then it was all over the tabloids, the television, and the Internet. And that was the off-season, anticipating the start of the next season of the show on TLC. And now I know too much. Way too much. I don’t need to know that Kate’s hairdo is referred to as a volcano — whatever. I’m starting to think maybe Aunt Jodi is the only sane one. Then again, if rumours are true that Kate is a monster, a witch with a captial “B” when the cameras are off, then maybe I want to give Jon the sympathy vote.
And now it’s time for the Christians to weigh in, now that that tabloids and talk shows have had their say, and the official announcement has been made. Yup: Jon & Kate to Separate. Well, The Christianity Today article predates the announcement and offers up a fairly scathing critique — not so much of the show, but of what it says about evangelicalism. Julie Vermeer Elliott writes, “Until recently, Jon and Kate were celebrated as models of wholesome family values. Sure, they bickered a lot, but they were committed to staying together for the long haul.” But that was then, this is now… and here comes the money quote:
It was not until the recent allegations of sexual impropriety arose that a significant number of Christians began to question whether Jon and Kate were indeed the examples of faithful living that we had imagined. Somehow most of us missed the long trajectory that was, day by day, moving them farther from a life of Christian virtue. Sexual immorality–whether actual or merely suspected–caught our attention, but the materialism, narcissism, and exploitation of children that preceded it was largely overlooked. As such, the breakdown of Jon and Kate’s marriage is but a symptom of the larger weaknesses of ethics in the evangelical community. We are easily seduced by wealth and fame. We are easily contented by the shallow rhetoric of hot-button issues. In short, we are easily deceived by cultural values painted in Christian veneers (or clothed in Isaiah 40:31 T-shirts).
Ouch? Or can I get an “Amen!”?
Yeah, well, back to the Gosselins. I guess it’s time to imagine how to deal with the situation “If I Were Jon and Kate’s Pastor.” But I’m thinking maybe Julie Elliott has it right — it’s not the allegations of sexual impropriety or marital separation that ought to be the trigger for intervention… that should have happened long ago. Perhaps someone might have pointed out that despite there being eight children in the family, it’s possible that they still don’t need a $1.3Million home with so many bathrooms they can’t find the one with the kid yelling for his bottom to be wiped.
Somewhere along the line the Gosselins crossed the line between getting by and getting more. I think it must have happened somewhere between $75,000 per year and $75,000 per episode. (That’s not counting the Zondervan books.) The drive for more “stuff” and all the accoutrements of said “stuff” comes with a terrible set of trappings. We all want to think that money won’t change us or distract us from our real priorities… but we delude ourselves. To shower oneself with cash and hope to cling to the values established before the “good fortune” is simply to tempt fate. And human nature.
So will the next season be called “Jon & Kate +8–Jon?” Or something equally awkward? Who knows. Following Kate’s filing for divorce, the show is on hiatus until August, and given the way the frenzy over this whole thing seems to build when there’s no new dirt being aired, I guess we’re in for six weeks of solid Kategate before we get another episode. I won’t be watching that one either.
Sadly, the scathing indictment goes beyond Jon and Kate and beyond evangelicalism. When the mainstream Media is Faulted for its Lack of “Jon and Kate” Coverage by the dean of a journalism school, you know there’s a problem… (only Us magazine is keeping up with this “important” issue) probably stemming from the notion that you can’t make money printing the “real” news when there’s good gossip to be found.
Yup. Follow the money.