Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update From Jodi

Jodi is thankful for the support that she is receiving, but at the same time, it is a constant reminder of the past. She feels like she is now at a turning point, but with the recent media coverage, it's impossible for her to move forward when more and more people are finding my blog and approaching her in real life. She appreciates the encouragement, but knows this is what she needs to do.

I am removing most of the posts on my blog to hopefully give her a chance to continue to move forward.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What is Exploitation?

It seems that many are confused about what exploitation really is. Exploitation is the utilization of another person for selfish purposes. The issue has nothing to do with how the kids are being treated. It has nothing to do with whether they are clothed, fed and able to have "life experiences". Just because they may "appear" to be happy at this point in their life, has nothing to do with whether or not they are being exploited.

The children are being put on display; their lives are filmed and shown for the world to watch and analyze. The children are working to support a lifestyle that their parents want AND they don't have a choice. Jon and Kate say that they are "working from home" and the show is their JOB. If this statement is believed to be true, then the children are working too. I don't see any other way around it. The real problem with this scenario is that Jon and Kate's employment is completely contingent upon their children also working.

It's been at least a year now since Jon quit his job. I don't believe that he has ever worked from home in some type of computer field. He's had trouble keeping a job, he has very minimal experience and even less motivation. How many different "job titles" has he claimed to have over the past year? The statement on the show that he is "working from home" in the IT field is about as honest as the fact that they have to "save up" for special outings or Kate spends her days cooking and cleaning or she is "exhausted" from being a mom of eight with little help.

The show is not just supplementing their income. The children are supporting their family. It is no longer a day in the life of a family with multiples. The cameras are not just following them around and capturing spontaneous moments. They are now filming 3-4 days/week to make 30-40 episodes/season. Season 3 ran January-June and they jumped right into Season 4 without a break. This is a business venture, not a documentary. Look at TLC's statement to CNN :

"Because of the show, the kids and the family have economic security and the luxury of a mom who can stay at home and raise them."

Does economic security make it right? I can think of many examples where money is the end result, but that doesn't make the means of receiving it right.

The show is about making money--bottom line. It is staged and edited for entertainment. The children are prompted by the producer to do certain things to make the episode more interesting or help create the storyline. Their lives have turned into a TV show. Endorsements and sponsorships dictate what toys they play with, the food they eat, the juice they drink, the clothes they wear, the products they use and the places they go. Is there anything that is real anymore?

This reminds me of the advice given by the surviving Dionne Quintuplets shortly after the birth of the McCaughey septuplets in 1997.

Dear Bobbi and Kenny,

If we emerge momentarily from the privacy we have sought all our adult lives, it is only to send a message to the McCaughey family. We three would like you to know we feel a natural affinity and tenderness for your children. We hope your children receive more respect than we did. Their fate should be no different from that of other children. Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products.

Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario, our place of birth. We were displayed as a curiosity three times a day for millions of tourists. To this day we receive letters from all over the world. To all those who have expressed their support in light of the abuse we have endured, we say thank you. And to those who would seek to exploit the growing fame of these children, we say beware.

We sincerely hope a lesson will be learned from examining how our lives were forever altered by our childhood experience. If this letter changes the course of events for these newborns, then perhaps our lives will have served a higher purpose.

Sincerely, Annette, Cecile and Yvonne Dionne

As published in Time Magazine, December 1, 1997.

Do we ignore the warning of those who have experienced exploitation first hand?

The debate shouldn't be whether the kids are "acting" or whether they have more "things and experiences" because of the show. Do you really think matching designer clothes make children happy? Are they even going to remember the trips they've taken so far? They are growing up in the public eye. They are being used for profit by the network, corporations and their own parents. IMO, what they are dealing with, now and in the future, is even worse than child actors. Their home is the studio. They aren't playing a character, they are the characters.

Of course there are children out there who "have it worse", but does that mean we turn our backs on these children? Don't all children deserve privacy, security and the same protection? Do the Gosselin children deserve less than other children in the entertainment industry just because their show is labeled "reality"?

Is everyone going to be shocked 10-15 yrs down the road when the damage is exposed and the children are able to speak for themselves and share their own stories? Is continuing the series worth the risk? Do we ignore the warnings of those who are speaking out based on their own personal experiences? History has taught us valuable lessons. Do we wait until the damage is revealed to realize this is wrong?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

CNN Clip

CNN and Headline News have been running a clip specifically addressing the exploitation of the Gosselin children on "Jon and Kate Plus Eight". Jon and Kate declined to be interviewed, but Paul Petersen spoke about his concerns for the children.

Thank you CNN and Mr. Petersen for bringing attention to the concerns many share. Gosselins Without Pity was mentioned in the story and has also been instrumental in raising awareness of the exploitation of the Gosselin children.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mr. Petersen has posted another article addressing the show on his website A Minor Consideration .

Oh, They're So Cute
Kids and Animals on TV

Congratulations, America. This past week saw 31 new little stars drop into our living rooms with the premieres of "Kids by the Dozen" and "17 Kids and Counting" on The Learning Channel. You can hear the ooohs and aaahs in Timbuktu. The scramble is on to learn each of the children's names, their likes and dislikes, and where they fit in the family's pecking order. Add to this childhood menagerie the on-going exploits of the Gosselin Family from "Jon & Kate +8" as revealed in People Magazine's four-page spread of that family's trip to Maui, Hawaii, and you'd think television has turned into amateur home movies.

Only these shows aren't really home movies, are they? Of course they're not. They are professionally photographed and edited productions that employ scores of adults that you never see on-camera. The Parents who have permitted the cameras to chronicle their various families are being compensated, some quite handsomely, and some less so. If you chanced to watch the excruciating "Jon & Kate" episode that showed the family engaged in an endless photo shoot for Good Housekeeping magazine's cover (coming soon) you might have noticed that all this so-called "fun" looks a lot like work.

We all have a soft spot for kids and animals. It's a biological imperative. We are biologically compelled to notice and care for children, to protect and husband animals. They are means by which we got from there to here.

One thing you can say about all these media darlings is that most appear to be remarkably normal given their unusual circumstances…so far. Today's kids see the media in a different light than we adults because they are immersed in its impact from birth, with or without cameras present. The question is, other than their numbers and the fact that they were born into large families, what part of being "normal" can prepare or protect a child from the effects of celebrity?

The American Humane Association, which came into existence back in the 1870's to advocate for children, but is better known as the protectors of the animals we see in the media, has this to say about the welfare of animals in film production:

*Animals should be trained and prepared in advance to perform the required action.

*Costuming and/or props shall be made available to American Humane for inspection prior to filming. Animals shall be adequately conditioned and trained to wear or use all costumes or props. Costuming and/or props shall be comfortable, provide ease of movement, and shall not restrict the animal’s breathing or cause the animal to overheat.

*Tie-downs, waist ties and hobbles shall not be used on animals not properly trained to wear them.

*American Humane recognizes that unique or unforeseen situations may arise that might require on-site judgment differing from these Guidelines. American Humane Certified Animal Safety Representatives will make that judgment in the interest of the safety and welfare of the animal.

*Training and/or cueing equipment such as collars, leashes, muzzles, whips and other devices must be used safely and humanely under the supervision of American Humane Certified Animal Safety Representatives.

See full details at: http://www.americanhumane.org/

You can see where this is going, I hope. Producers of popular entertainment who utilize animals in their work do not cross the American Humane Association or the Certified Animal Safety Representatives that travel the world to protect animals in film. When the AHA says, "No animal was killed or injured in the making of this film" you can believe it.

In other pages on this website we have put together a Compare and Contrast chart so inquisitive people can see how the State of California's regulations concerning children in entertainment (the best this country has on the books, by the way) compare to the global Industry protections afforded those birds and beasts over whom we have dominion. It can be found here: www.minorcon.org/regulations.html.

At the risk of angering those souls who continue to believe that parents always do what's best for their children, let's see what the Industry has to say when it comes to Casting Guidelines for children utilized in the creation of popular entertainment:

Notice that space? It's there for a reason. No such guidelines exist for even considering what sort of child is eligible for participation in the entertainment industry. If such a guideline existed to determine what sort of child one might see on television or in movies, do you think it would start off with normal?

…To be continued

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don't Shoot the Messenger

For the child exploitation supporters: You may not agree with the reasons I felt that I needed to come forward, but I ask you to think long and hard about what you are actually defending. You don't have to agree with what I have said or why, how, when, etc. If you don't like what you read, then stop reading and move on. People have to be intentionally searching out information on the internet to run across my blog. I'm not forcing anyone to read it and as I said at the beginning, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I'm making information available for those who are looking. Everyone can form their own opinions based on what they have seen and read.

I'd like to address some things I've seen being discussed about my blog:

"Airing dirty laundry"--this logic makes no sense to me. I have only responded to things that have been made public by J&K. For those who say I have given "every detail", that's just ridiculous! I've known the family for 12+ yrs, and I haven't said a word about anything that has happened in all of that time. I haven't given details about Kate's relationship with her parents, sisters, or past things that involve Jodi/Kevin. I have only scratched the surface with information about the show or behind the scenes events. It's not like I am approaching everyone I come in contact with and ask them if they watch the show and then start dishing the dirt. I am putting some information about a few issues in a blog. I have chosen very specific things to write about because they all relate back to the reason that these children need laws to protect them. Nothing and no one can stop J&K from getting what they want, even if it is at the expense of the children's well-being. Now or in the future.

"We don't know J&K's side"--WHAT?? This one really gets to me! I am responding to THEIR side of the story. They have a TV show, website, TLC website, speaking engagements, talk show appearances, etc. They have the forum to address whatever they want/however they want. Many people have started catching them in their lies or have a gut feeling that things aren't adding up while watching the show. They are sending people to the internet to search for answers.

Let's look at the "Burning Questions" in the recent article in People. They had the opportunity to tell the truth, but they chose not to. I am responding to what THEY have said publicly.

Do They Have Any Help?

Answer: A cleaning lady comes every other week, and a young woman occasionally helps with errands. Beyond that, "this is my personal chef," says Jon of Kate, "my personal housekeeper too."

The Truth: They have a cleaning service AND someone who also does spot cleaning/organizing in between. They have someone who irons and puts away their laundry. Jon has said that Jenny is on the payroll for 30 hrs/week to help with the kids and errands. If they don't have a personal chef, then I wonder who prepared the dinner that my parents ate (leftovers)when they were watching Jodi's kids when she was traveling for the show? Why were they told that the meal was prepared by their personal chef? Who made and delivered the food when Jodi and Kevin were watching the kids while J&K were away for the hair plugs? Who prepares a weeks worth of meals and delivers them along with wine and fresh cut flowers? Who brings bags of groceries/produce from the whole foods store?

As I said before, why not just be honest about the amount of help that they have? Or even say nothing. Why pretend that they do it all alone? Why pretend that they clip coupons, use layaway and save up for special outings? Why try to make people believe they are just a normal family who is struggling to get by? So the viewers can relate to them? I would venture to guess that most of the viewers have never had cosmetic procedures and the number of outings/vacations that we have seen over the last year. I'd guess that most of the viewers wouldn't be shopping for property worth well over a million dollars.

As I said before, being a mother of twin and sextuplets would be a piece of cake if you didn't have to do any of the things that most mothers do. And now, just because Kate is the mother of 8, that makes her an expert on cooking and organizing? I have yet to see an original recipe or organizing idea from her. What a joke!

Where Are The Kids' Grandparents?

Answer: "My mom lives far away," explains Jon, whose father died in 2005. "We just don't see her as much now, and Kate's parents choose not to be involved." The couple's siblings-she is one of five kids, he is one of three-also don't want to be in the spotlight. "People don't always understand us," says Kate. "Even friends, relatives, family, neighbors."

The Truth: Although I'm not going to get into the specifics of the family dynamics, I can assure you that most of this statement is not true. You now know the truth behind why Jodi and Kevin have been cut off. Just because others may not want to be in the "spotlight" shouldn't mean that they can't have a relationship with the kids "off camera".

The truth in their answer, "People don't always understand us".

"15 mins of fame"--if that were the case, don't you think I would have gone out and tried to sell my story? I put information on a blog. This certainly hasn't been a pleasant experience for me in some ways, but I have also found a lot of support that I wasn't expecting. I knew what some of the responses were going to be and that's why I chose the name for my blog. People love to "shoot the messenger", and I knew I would be the target of alot of hate.

"You're just jealous"--what is there to be jealous of--having 8 kids? Having a production company dictate my life? Having no friends or family relationships? Having no privacy? I can't think of one thing they have that's worth the price the kids are paying. I don't need to have 8 kids to know that I would never sell my children's privacy to the highest bidder. There are more important things in life than fame and fortune. J&K are putting their kids on display in exchange for a lifestyle that they wanted but couldn't afford. The children are working and supporting their parents. They aren't the first family to have 8 kids. They aren't the only family with 2 sets of multiples. They aren't the only family with sextuplets. They did not NEED the show to survive. There is no reason that they couldn't both work to support their family. That's what productive members of society do.

"Until you walk in their shoes..."--I don't need to have twins and sextuplets to see that their interactions with each other and the kids are damaging. It's ridiculous to compare stress. Their behavior is excused because they are stressed by having 8 kids? Stress is stress no matter what the circumstances are.

What about the single parent who is working to support their family and juggling it all on their own? What about the families who have both parents working (some with multiple jobs) and are still struggling to make ends meet? What about the military families who are separated from their spouses and/or children for months or sometimes a year at a time? What about families who have to deal with disabilities or chronic illnesses? I can think of many situations that cause stress on families. Is there anyone who doesn't have some sort of stress in their life?

Does that give everyone the right to react to their stress the way J&K do? I'm offended that the media tries to make us believe their relationship is "real" and "honest" and a normal depiction of what most marriages are. You could have cameras on me 24/7 and would never hear me speak to my husband the way Kate talks to Jon. I'm not saying our marriage is perfect, but we have a mutual respect for each other. There is a huge problem in society if their marriage is an example of what is "normal".

A mother's hurtful words can damage a child for a lifetime. One of the reasons I stopped watching the show was because I couldn't stand to see the way Jon and Kate treat each other and their children. We're not just seeing their worst moments all edited together. The show is a true depiction of their relationships and they have said that they are the same with and without the cameras. I know that their behavior is even worse than what is shown on TV. Eight children is no excuse!