Political InQueery: Politainment

Everett Maroon
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Everett Maroon is a memoirist, essayist, and fiction writer originally from New Jersey and now living in Walla Walla, Washington. His blog is transplantportation.com and he tweets at @EverettMaroon.

There is the subject of politics and then there is entertainment. And never the twain shall meet, right? Wrong. So unbelievably wrong. In news of the “please don’t record this,” it leaked today that TLC—that’s The Learning Channel, for those who are television newbies—is doing some crossover Kate Gosselin and Sarah Palin shows. This is not your mother’s Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street mash up. This is full on, polarizing mothers run in/rendezvous in the wild frontier of Alaska.

Apparently, Kate will be bringing the children to the zoo in Anchorage, as paparazzi websites posted pictures today of just such a moment. Palin is also busy filming her Sarah Palin’s Alaska series. This, to recall for everyone, is the series she got after she said no to TLC’s request to do a show on her family. She’s apparently fine getting enmeshed in the Gosselin family.

Kate, for her part, will be doing another series in addition to the Kate Plus Eight specials she’s filming this summer: Twist of Kate, which gets my nomination for worst title of the season, will be a series where Kate gives life advice to other families. I swear I am not making this up. Because her own life is going so well. Every episode of Kate Plus Eight that I’ve seen this summer has some pretty pissed off older twin sisters in it. I predict a couple of tell-all books in just about ten years.

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, is not expected to be a recipient of Kate’s “life advice,” but will be interacting with her at some Alaskan location, somehow. Maybe to talk about Project Vote? Probably not. Palin’s father, a retired science teacher, will be giving some instruction to the little ones on natural history, and that we’ll get to hear Sarah’s own tips for avoiding bears. I want to know if the country is ready for Sarah to demonstrate how to place her hands over her neck to avoid bear bites. She could become as iconic as Dick Van Dyke shouting, “Stop, drop, and roll!&quot

More cowbell, Sarah! I mean, more bell to avoid bears!

I’m wondering who TLC thinks the audience will be for these very special episodes. There’s Kate’s well known anal retentive personality, public divorce from the newly stupidly tattooed Jon Gosselin—seriously, look at the tattoo, it’s awful—after her stint on Dancing with the Stars and too-much-in-the-press hair extensions conversation, dragging her kids to places just for the video footage, and then there’s Sarah, the publicity seeking, feminism redefining, once was maybe will be again gubernatorial candidate who quit her last elected post early. Now that I think of it:

  • Both have several more children than is average in the US
  • Both are media butterflies
  • Both decry the paparazzi even as they seek such attention
  • Both are very public about motherhood
  • Both have jerky, grumpy husbands
  • Both spend a lot of time managing their image
  • Both attempt to make as much money as possible from said image

SupernannyOkay, maybe there’s a crossover audience here. The big difference seems to be that Sarah Palin may continue to seek voter support based on these engagements with the media (the book tours, the campaigning for others, the political coverage of her Tea Party appearances, etc.), and Kate doesn’t. And this makes me feel a little better about Kate than Sarah, because I have expectations that politicians are not actually trying to run campaigns so much as popularity contests. But I’m an idealist that way.

Maybe the Supernanny will get her US citizenship and I can vote for her instead. It seems less disingenuous.


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