Jon And Kate Plus Nobody

Everyone I know is sick to death of Jon and Kate Gosselin. And yet at least half of the people I know will be glued to their television set tomorrow night in order to hear the Gosselin's big "announcement."

It's pretty obvious that the "announcement" will either be a divorce or a separation, as the Gosselin's marriage has unraveled in a particularly nasty and public way over the past 6 months or so, and the promotional spots for the episode certainly don't seem promising, in terms of a miraculous family reunion of sorts. Naturally the tabloids went crazy over the promo, hyping the show, as I'm sure TLC hoped they would, as a must-see event, and I'm sure millions and millions of people will tune in tomorrow night to watch the Gosselins fall apart. Soon after, they will take to their computers to bitch about how much they hate Jon and Kate and wish they would just fall off the face of the earth.

Guess what?! Unless by some miracle Jon and Kate's announcement is "We've realized that it's kind of shitty to put our eight children through this, so we're pulling the plug on this show and we'd like to be private citizens again, thank you," the Gosselin family isn't going anywhere. The public is fascinated with the downfall of this family, most notably the downfall of Kate Gosselin, who, over the course of the past year or so, has morphed from annoying mother of eight children known and loved/hated by TLC viewers to Kate Gosselin: Crazy Haired Cruella De Vil, and every move they make is being analyzed, documented, and plastered on the cover of the tabloids for the entire world to see. Even when the family fades from the spotlight, we'll surely get updates on whatever happened to the Plus 8, and one can only hope that after the strange and extremely public upbringing they've received, those updates will be positive rather than negative.

I am sick of the Gosselins. I am sick of people talking about Kate's hair, I am sick of Jon's Ed Hardy wardrobe staring me in the face every time I look for Snap Judgment pictures, I am sick of stories about sordid affairs and spanking and withholding water and bachelor pads and divorce lawyers and nannies and tummy tucks and free vacations and anything that doesn't have to do with what the show was supposed to be about: the adventures of raising eight little kids. And yet here I am writing about Jon and Kate Gosselin, because Jon and Kate Gosselin are EVERYWHERE, and I'm pretty sure it's because we, as a country, constantly need to be distracted from the real troubles in our own lives by focusing on the problems of others.

We're obsessed with the Gosselins for the same reasons we're obsessed with Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag: we need an enemy, we need someone to rally against and talk shit about in order to feel socially connected to others. We are so removed from actual reality at times due to our dependence on screens and keys that we find a type of solace in watching other "real" people fall apart on television: it gives us a means of feeling like our lives are better by comparison, and allows us to connect with people that we've never even met before in order to bond over our shared dislike of a very real human being. It's a weird phenomenon, but it seems perfectly normal and natural to those of us raised on reality television: we're friends with everyone else who shares our loathing of these "characters" who have invited us into their lives.

That is not to say I feel an overwhelming sense of sympathy for Jon and Kate Gosselin (though I do feel bad for their kids) and I don't have any warm feelings towards Spencer and Heidi (who have mastered the art of playing the heel and know exactly what they are doing and are laughing all the way to the bank), but the way we feed these reality machines and then complain that they're still up and running seems a bit strange to me. If you really want Jon and Kate to pack it up and fade into pop culture history, it's probably best to start with ignoring any announcements they make that don't essentially add up to "Goodbye."