My sister-in-law has always maintained that the last, desperate gasp of a marriage comes when you decide to renew your vows. Though I didn't choose to follow her advice to the letter, having my own "do-over" with my wife and Elvis a couple years back, but I get her point. If you sign up for "til death do you part," what else is there? It's a little like having a sequel to "The Neverending Story." What's the point?
Using this as a base point, what are we to make of the following of the following headline: "Critics say kids on reality TV are exploited." I don't know if there are letters big enough to spell out DUH. Perhaps next to the Hollywood sign, or Mount Rushmore? What sort of benefits would one expect children to reap from having their family's personal life aired on a weekly basis? Though the veil between Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana is incredibly thin, at least her episodic cavorting generally comes under the heading of "fiction." Watching a kid melt down because his birthday party didn't feature a pony isn't going to help the kid. Loyal viewers of "Supernanny" may take quiet notice of the reassuring words parents are given to deal with their barely controlled children, but what sort of reality is created when a camera crew shows up? I would have a pretty hard time staying in bed if there was a couple of big hairy guys standing over me with a microphone and a night-vision lens. And if I were a "bad kid," why not put on a show?
I know why this issue is getting so much heat right now. Ten million people watched the season premiere of "Jon & Kate Plus 8." I wasn't part of that multitude, but I suspect that eight of those ten million were watching the slow-motion train wreck that has become Jon and Kate's marriage. Hey kids, want to find out what mom and dad really think? Watch tonight's episode.
Or not. CBS managed to get past that whole potentially dull adult thing by creating their own version of "Lord Of The Flies" a couple of years back with "Kid Nation." If you're a fan of child exploitation and you missed this one, too bad. The irony of parents filing lawsuits on behalf of the children they sent off to fend for themselves in the New Mexico desert is almost too thick to ponder. As Jon and Kate teeter on the edge of Splitsville, I'm sure they will have a chance to reflect meaningfully, for the cameras, on the renewal of their nuptials last year on Maui. The kids should be calling the ones who really care about their welfare: their agents.