The Apocalypse is Nigh
This is real, dear readers. Kate Gosselin, former star of Jon & Kate Plus 8, and more recent star of the “Celebrity Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong” section of your favorite tabloid, is partnering with Royal Caribbean to give vacationers the cruise experience of a lifetime! The cheapest cabin on this cruise is $3,000 and the priciest is $5,500. That doesn’t include the roundtrip airfare to the port of embarkation, 7 days worth of booze, and mandatory tips for the various staff who will be shoving complimentary ice cream sundaes in your face 24-hours a day. And you’ll need someone to watch your cat while you’re gone. That’s gonna cost you too. Especially when your cat finds out why you’ve abandoned her for 7 days and 7 nights (hint: pee in shoes).
It’s not that I doubt that there are people out there who would like to meet Kate Gosselin, or at least see her in person. If Kate Gosselin was coming to the Greenville Olive Garden, I would most definitely drive across town to see her. I’m a gawker by nature. I might even wait in a line to see her. Especially if there was the promise of endless breadsticks and salad afterwards.
What I doubt is that there are enough people to fill a cruise ship who have 1. the desire to meet Kate Gosselin and 2. several thousand dollars of disposable income. But clearly some vacant-eyed minion in Kate Gosselin’s employ must have gotten on the blower, done some canvassing, and found out that YES! there are in fact at least 3,000 people willing spend a lot of money to “learn a new craft” with Kate Gosselin somewhere in the Caribbean. Kate makes amazing crafts.
Who might these people be? I imagine these are people who have worked very hard to create a nice nest egg for themselves, one that they’ve been squirreling away for a big splurge. They are willing to spend this money on a worthwhile venture — something the whole family can enjoy. I imagine a mother of three young children, a woman who still believes that Kate Gosselin is her former self, a domestic super hero who manages to “do it all.” She does not see Kate Gosselin’s current self: a strung out fame addict making due with celebrity cruise ship gigs (which, if you didn’t already know, are the methadone of fame fixes, followed only by state fair appearances). I believe this target consumer is a generous, good-hearted woman. She thinks that Kate Gosselin got an unfair shake when her marriage to fell apart in front of the reality TV cameras and what was poor Kate to do but scramble for more TV gigs in order to make ends meet while her lazy, good-for-nothing ex-husband shopped for Ed Hardy T-shirts and had sex with young women who should know better? Lancaster county private schools don’t pay for themselves. And neither do unlimited sessions at The Sunshine Factory.
Yes, the ideal passenger on the Kate Gosselin cruise is a woman who doesn’t like to gossip, but enjoys reading gossip rags. When the cover of US Weekly proclaims “Angie is Pregnant!” she believes them and wishes the best for Angie. She owns several products featuring the “As Seen on TV” sticker. They have to work. Why would Ron Popeil lie?
This woman sees the Kate Gosselin cruise as a chance to play “fun family games with Kate and staff,” no doubt envisioning being tethered to Kate in the 3-legged race or possibly depositing an egg, ever-so-gingerly, onto Kate’s awaiting spoon. I imagine this mother has twins, just like Kate, or possibly triplets or quadruplets (but definitely not sextuplets because then this woman would also have her own show), and that’s why she identifies with Kate in the first place. She understands why Kate was so frazzled — why she barked at her children and needled her husband. She’s done that too. Having multiples is tough.
This woman might be a stay at home mom (but only temporarily, just until the twins are old enough for school) and the days are long. Some days she wonders why she keeps wiping crumbs off of the counter top after breakfast, knowing that they’ll reappear again, like magic, after lunch. She wonders why she bothers changing her clothes before loading the triplets into the minivan and heading to the grocery store. After all, she’ll be wearing her winter coat — no one will see the dribbles of coffee on her chest or the dried rice cereal clinging to the cuffs of her sleeves. But there’s always the chance. She brushes her hair, too, and puts on a little lipstick even when she knows she’ll be at home all day, just her and the quadruplets. Grooming’s important. Because you just never know who might show up at the door while you’re sitting there, not wearing any lipstick. She and Kate understand this.
She’s sympathetic to Kate and her Botox and her hair extensions and her tummy tucks. She wouldn’t mind getting a tummy tuck herself. Who wouldn’t? She plans to tell Kate all of this at that “private BBQ on deck with Kate and a fabulous band.” She’s thinking that “private” sounds nice. Maybe she and Kate will share their birth stories. Hers is a real doozy — 40 hours, no epidural. Not even a valium. She practiced her visualization and guided imagery ahead of time, thinking of her uterus as a flower slowly opening, just as her Bradley method teacher instructed. Not many women can do that. Maybe they’ll stand together at the railing, this target consumer and Kate, looking out at the ocean, quoting Titanic (“I’m king of the world!”). “Yes,” she thinks, “this could be the family’s summer vacation. Pricey, yes. But we can swing it.” And won’t it be nice to get a “A commemorative personalized gift from Kate” (one per family)? The gift will be personal because Kate understands her, just as she understands Kate.
I understand this woman, too, because part of her is me. And I think this woman deserves better. She deserves to use that $5,000 nest egg on something real and tangible — not a staged photograph with a curt former reality TV star. But she enters her credit card information. She understands the ticket is non-refundable. She’s going to meet Kate Gosselin. It’s worth it.
When criticizing an artifact of popular culture people often toss out hyperboles like “It’s everything that’s wrong with this world.” Well, you know what? Jersey Shore really is everything that’s wrong with this world. Nothing is more useless than an underemployed twentysomething reality television star with an inflated sense of ego and the relentless desire to press his or her naughty parts against the naughty parts of drunken reality TV groupies (the worst kind of drunken groupies). And Jersey Shore employs seven of these individuals (the eighth cast member, Sammi, mercifully exited the show a few weeks ago). It’s not just that I know I could spend my limited television viewing time more productively (8 Firefly episodes await me on my Netflix instant queue); I know that a lot of the behaviors I’m watching are highly problematic and that they’re being played for laughs.
I don’t approve of grenade whistles (c’mon, that’s just too mean folks):
But how can I stay mad at a show that gave me this?
Also, I can’ stop watching Jersey Shore because I can’t stop writing about it (click here for my thoughts on why the Jersey Shore men are like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). This week I’m writing about Jersey Shore for Antenna. You can read it here. And please do feel free to comment and join the discussion at Antenna. That kind of thing warms my heart. Thanks!