Liz B. recently mentioned Jon & Kate (What do you mean, Jon & Kate Who?) at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, which reminded me of something I was thinking about that show recently.
I've seen many bits and pieces of J&K episodes while channel surfing or ironing clothes because it's often on all the time. (Or it used to be.) I actually know who Aunt Jodi is. I read somewhere that what originally attracted viewers to this show was that Jon and Kate were just regular people, but they seemed very sitcom like--the all-knowing wife with the bumbling husband. We enjoyed seeing reality made unreal.
Over the last couple of months the whole Jon & Kate blow-up has made me think of some of the fifties and sixties science fiction I've read at times during my checkered past. I've always felt that some of the scifi writers of that era were a little freaked out by the concept of TV. (Or maybe they just held it in contempt.) Isn't there a character at the beginning of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? who spends all her time holding some device that provides her with TV-like images? I mean all her time?
The "all Jon & Kate all the time" thing seems to me as if it could have been torn out of one of those books. You've got these two young(ish) people who have been selected out of all America to come into our living rooms. They've become more and more physically beautiful over the the course of the show. They've been "groomed" to make them more attractive to their viewing public. They've moved into a bigger and better house, which is what we all want to do, isn't it? (I must admit, I missed most of that season, only seeing a few moments while Kate was cleaning the refrigerator in her new kitchen.) They go to the places we want to go and do the things we want to do. Jon snow boards and skis. Kate writes books and gets pedicures.
Then, just as it does in scifi books, things started to go bad. The boundary between J&K and their viewing public became blurred. When are they being watched? When are they "on?" Where are the cameras? What are J&K doing? What should they do?
The cameras are everywhere. J&K should do whatever we want them to. Or, better yet, they should do whatever we don't want them to because what we really want is to hate them.
They are being chased now so that the cameras can catch one of them yelling at one of their kids or kissing a college girl or maybe kicking one of those dogs. Seriously, doesn't this sound like a book plot?
A couple of weeks ago, I thought, Gee, this is The Hunger Games. Collins isn't writing about a dystopian future. She's writing about now.