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GUEST BLOG #28: Tom Brinkmoeller pokes 'Jon & Kate' in the eye
June 26, 2009  | By Tom Brinkmoeller

[Bianculli here: Celebrity culture has never been more obvious or inescapable than right now, as TV covers -- blankets, smothers -- the death of Michael Jackson, with Farrah Fawcett's death in second place, Ed McMahon's death a distant third, the unfaithful South Carolina governor a rapidly sidelined fourth, and the poor protesters in Iran wiped off the attention grid almost entirely. So what does the celebrity of Jon and Kate have to do with all this? According to contributing columnist Tom Brinkmoeller, a lot...]


'Jon & Kate' Just Ate America's Lunch

How many times did Moe tell his Three Stooges partner Curly to pick two fingers, and then poked him in the eyes with the fingers he picked? How many times did Moe tell the bald Stooge to hit his hand, and then swing his arm in an arc to land his fist on Curly's head?

If you think the Stooges are history, think again. Television's play-callers are pulling the old Moe trick on us more often and more brazenly lately than its namesake ever did. They think of us as a collection of Curlys. And lots of us have offered our eyes as willing targets.

The largest offender, to date: TLC, for the way it has suckered so many into the spider web called Jon & Kate Plus 8. Maybe you remember how Moe would clamp a huge pliers on Curly
s nose and pull him around? See any similarity in the way TLC has been yanking us around?

jon kate us magazine.jpg

With an amount of manufactured excitement its Learning Channel predecessor would have considered offensive, the unabashed new TLC used a giant stick to stir up the waters as it led up to Monday's D-I-V-O-R-C-E episode. Fresh photos of the telegenic parents with eight children got published. Unattributed rumors got printed. Clips showed up on the star-sycophant programs. Emeril Lagasse and the American Chopper comedy trio made guest appearances.

People who once sold pet rocks and mood rings must be the VPs of hype at TLC. They said, "Pick two!" and the viewing Curlys let themselves get poked in the eye.

Following Monday's melodramatic conclusion -- as the public response morphed into "How could anyone victimize those sweet children?" -- there's a lot of handwringing going on in some of the same fields where the first seeds of hype started growing a few weeks ago. Why isn't someone wringing TLC's neck, instead, for selling more sideshow tickets than Barnum ever dreamed of peddling?

More evidence of stink: The night after the momentous episode aired, it aired again. And now, as the series is on a so-called hiatus, the TLC schedule is amply populated with maudlin promos inviting viewers to revisit the better days, as the network works to make sure the upcoming reruns pull better ratings than the originals. Parent-company Discovery's e-mail list sent out an offer Wednesday right: Buy the Season 1 DVD of Jon & Kate and get the second season free!

jon and kate breakup.jpg

This really awful series (is there ever a time when one or more of the children, or Jon, for that matter, isn't crying?) is not the first to play the manipulation game. Bachelors and bachelorettes, celebrity apprentices -- and of course those celebrities who should be left in the jungle -- do it, too. But these vapid competition shows don't make children into accomplices. So in the current tally, Jon & Kate is the worst.

Does the manipulation have to rise to the Bernie Madoff level before someone finally shuts it down? This isn't a regulatory thing, like banning cigarette commercials was. Nor is it like TV's 1950s quiz-show scandals, where government officials jumped in and created an entirely different mess.

This is one for the public to change simply by waking up and realizing they're being used shamelessly. We can reverse things, and not just by tuning out of these sickly shows (though low ratings hit networks in the most sensitive body parts). When large numbers tune out and sound off by calling this the scam trend it is, the garden slugs who come up with these shows will slink out of town before they're ridden out on a rail.

Curly, take the pliers out of that numbskull's hands and let him know you're the one holding the blunt object now. Don't be afraid to use it.



Tom Brinkmoeller -- who wouldn't
be surprised if Kate and Jon were
Joan Rivers and Geraldo Rivera in
disguise -- remembers when the most
brazen thing on television was a
deodorant ad that showed an armpit.


Rich said:

It's kinda strange for me to see people so worked up over this show. Here's why. At this time last year I discovered "Jon & Kate" on TLC and nobody I knew watched it. I saw a few episodes a week in random order cause TLC was showing it at all times weekly- so by the fall of 2008 I must've seen atleast 20-30 episodes (over a 4 month period). By early Oct I just couldn't watch Jon get his soul sucked out by Kate anymore - My view habits changed back to "Heroes" & "Paranormal State" I think

Now, I see so many people picking sides and analyzing and acting like this show was some new stunt. It started off very simply. I think 12 eps one year, 20 the next, by 2008 30 and 40 were ordered for 2009. Why did I watch?? I was bored, it was a novelty type of show and I was stunned at how much crap Jon toke from this obsessive compulsive shrew (Kate). Yet, he was so happy and lit-up bonding with his kids- He had the patience of a saint with them. The two styles of parenting were noticeable.

I would be stunned to see how crazy Kate got and how everytime Jon did something on his own (like Rollerblade alone down the street to piss off Kate)- I am terrified getting married and having kids...because of Kate. The Gosslings & TLC didn't start out this way- this was not calculated but anyone who saw the show before 2009 & the scandal could see this as a possible outcome.

I think the media & tabloids seized on The Gosslins cause it's juicy and fun for them to watch a wholesome family (that goes to church) get savaged by 'Sin'. I don't blame the Gosslins as No One's heard of this show until the Hype. I think TLC is hyping it cause it may lose it's biggest cash cow if the Gosslins quit and the Gosslin's now 'Need' the money. The show probably hastened their divorce but I doubt They wanted any of this attention. I can only say this cause I got to see them 'At Length' as opposed to all the people who see it through the eyes of the tabloids and scandal- It used to be a passive little Documentary about a family with 8 Kids- No one set out to make it "Scandal TV".

I blame Media, TLC Hype, and Kate for being an Attention seeking Shrew. Jon and the Kids just want to be left alone. Sorry to rattle on but I thought a perspective from some who watched semi-regularly many months before the scandal would be an interesting P.O.V...sides, who else is gonna admit to watching that show a year ago.

Comment posted on June 26, 2009 8:36 AM

Carol said:

Yesterday, I was flipping around while I was cleaning, I came across an episode of Oprah. A woman was seeking sympathy because she was so busy during her morning routine, and left her baby in a hot car all day. Instead of remorse, she was flaunting her story as a warning to other people. I changed the channel, so I did not need to hear anymore.

My question is," Why?" I hate to air my dirty laundry and my stupid mistakes. I could never understand why people wanted cameras in the delivery room for some of those other shows.

Comment posted on June 26, 2009 10:43 AM

Jan said:

I couldn't agree more. Every single network news station last night on the evening news had Michael Jackson not only as the lead story, but all of about 90 seconds of the newscast was devoted to anything else: Iran, Gov. Sanford, GM. PLUS, either ABC or NBC was having a big, two hour "special" later that night on Michael Jackson. That's, of course, after Thursday night's broadcast and one hour special on both channels. I kept wondering what else was going on in the world that we AREN'T hearing about.

I am doing the best I can to fight this: I have not ever watched Jon & Kate, and I intend never to do so. But this whole entertainment thing is becoming almost inescapable. I can't believe that "news" shows are spending so much time on fluff. Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave, although he certainly saw the possibilities which have, unfortunately, come to pass.

(Guess you hit a nerve there, huh?)

Comment posted on June 27, 2009 1:56 PM

Chris J. said:

I don't know when it happened exactly, but I stopped watching the news on a regular basis. It just became irrelevant to me and my daily life. If you took the news for what is happening in your local community at 6:00 or the world at 8:00, you would be terrified to leave your house because it seems that everyone is getting stabbed, robbed, raped, or blown to smitherines in some way. If that doesn't get you the government will as it tries to do everything it can to ruin the country as we are told everyday, politicians hate America and are only in it for themselves and their Party.

Seriously though, we are back in the Entertainment muck as a society. It was the same 10 years ago, and then came September 11. It seemed society "woke up" after that and started truly remembering and concentrating on what truly mattered. No one cared what Paris Hilton was doing or who was marrying who. This slowly disappeared since then and we are right back to where we were.

Comment posted on June 29, 2009 5:03 PM

jennifer said:

Why would anybody say it that way? You can easily get your point across in a polite and courteous way. Let's all just get along.

Comment posted on November 4, 2009 9:02 AM
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