Jenice Armstrong: Kids in the spotlight
HOW DO YOU live with cameras in your face 24/7? It's one thing for adults looking to get rich quick. But for kids? It can't be healthy.
HOW DO YOU live with cameras in your face 24/7?
It's one thing for adults looking to get rich quick. But for kids? It can't be healthy.
Especially since Octomom Nadya Sulaman reportedly has a reality show planned for British television, no doubt to see what she can do to drum up financial support for that oversized brood of hers.
And then, there's the trainwreck of the TLC show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which is under investigation for child- labor infractions as rumors continue to swirl about mom and dad's marital troubles.
Even though it's supposed to be unscripted, reality TV still gets edited and prodded along into storylines and narratives.
And many of us are watching, even though we know we should be watching better TV - it's hard not to gawk. I got sucked into the Gosselins a couple of seasons ago, after happening upon the show and getting fixated on the sight of not only the sextuplets but their twin sisters. I couldn't get over how many little heads there were around one dinner table. The kids are adorable but I think it's pretty sad that after creating such a beautiful family, their parents' marital problems could destroy it.
Now, I'm sure the parents had plenty of issues before becoming celebrities, but the pressures that come along with being in the spotlight probably contributed as well.
Not that their problems haven't been good for ratings. Nearly 10 million viewed this season's Memorial Day kickoff. Nothing like a little conflict and possibly an appearance on "Divorce Court" to get folks to tune in.
Nothing sells like twisted reality. It keeps the show exciting. You tune in, wondering what's going to happen next.
It would all be big fun, if it weren't for innocent kids caught up in it.
That's what is so troubling about using kids as stars on reality TV. If they don't wind up being exploited, it's really easy to skirt the line.
And there's no end in sight; more kid-focused reality TV shows are in the works. There's Bravo's "NYC Prep" - think "The Real Housewives of New York City" for teens. Then there's "Raising Sextuplets," which premieres Thursday on WE TV.
Navigating childhood and young adulthood is hard enough. I, for one, still have scars from it.
Managing it successfully with the lens of a camera trained on your every move is asking a whole lot of a young person, even if the kid does wind up being able to pay his college tuition in cash and still have enough left over to zip around campus in a Corvette. (It's estimated that the Gosselin family makes between $25,000 and $75,000 per episode.)
It's one thing if people who are good and grown make a reasoned, conscious decision to live out their lives on a public stage. By the time you've lived a little, you can at least weigh the long-term implications of making a public spectacle of yourself by gobbling a tarantula the way the wife of disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich did on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"
But when you're just a kid, what say do you have? *
Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. My blog: http://go.philly.com/heyjen.