January 31st, 2008 12:26 EST
The New Family Business: The Reality TV Show
A family that works for pay together stays together?
Reality fame and fortune is now the new family venture. House of Carters, Snoop Dogg`s Father Hood, Living with Gotti, Run`s House, Hogan Knows Best and Keeping up with the Kardashians provide us with a look of what it`s like to grow up rich and famous. All attempt to show us the private lives of our favorite celebrities while trying to make us believe they are just normal people.
Each show has its own premise: Living with Gotti comes across as a melodrama showing a family in midst of a divorce; Snoop Dogg`s Father Hood, Run`s House and Hogan Knows Best show us loving and nurturing famous families with a comical twist; and Keeping up with the Kardashians and House of Carters both thrive on outrageous family drama and chaos.
The most interesting aspect of these shows is how fame affects the whole family and how easily one can get sucked into all the glitz and glamour. The family`s whole world revolves around sustaining and building the career of the most famous of them all. As Keeping up with the Kardashians` Kris Jenner tells her famous daughter, Kim Kardashian, It`s your world Kim, we`re just living in it. "If stars wanted to show us how to live normal lives, then they are fooling no one but themselves. A private jet, celebrity friends who just drop in for a visit, and missing school to attend an award show are not part of the normal life for a child. The only thing the American public gets to see is how nepotism really works in our society.
Keep watching and you will see celebrity kids resemble each other in their attitudes about life. They each have the entitlement gene. Just because their mom or dad is talented, then they must be, too. All seamlessly wander toward careers in fashion, music and acting. Not one wants to be a lawyer, doctor, teacher or just a regular working stiff. One has to wonder, if their parent(s) were not famous, would they still seek out these careers in the entertainment field? Obviously, pounding the pavement and going out on auditions are not concepts in their vocabularies. If these children had to wait tables, eat Ramen noodles and struggle for a few years to get their big break, would they change their minds? It`s easy to follow your dream of stardom when daddy is financing it.
At least fame can be inherited, because hard work is not in some of these children`s DNA. None have the same passion and drive that made their parents famous. The shows usually turn into choruses of:
"Daddy, I want to be a singer.`
"Daddy, I want a clothing line.`
"Daddy, I want a part on TV or in a movie.`
"Daddy, I want my own magazine.`
"Daddy, I want a work with someone more famous than you.`
The blame for this cycle of overt nepotism does not solely belong to celebrity off-springs. Their environment breeds it. People around them give them things just because they have a famous parent. Doors which have been closed to more talented (but less famous surnamed) people magically open up for them.
The pioneer of the family reality show came in 2002, when MTV debuted The Osbournes. The success of the Osbournes on MTV helped fuel this type of "all in the family` reality TV. Yet unlike most of the new shows following the same premise, their dysfunction seemed to come naturally. Sharon, Ozzy, Jack and Kelly were genuinely being themselves, which made the show a cult hit. The recent crop of shows following their format appears to be scripted. Nothing just happens and, like a regular well-written sitcom, a family problem is resolved in thirty minutes.
There is a downside of letting the world inside your home. Everyone in the family becomes fair game for the media. The Hogan`s, like Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, saw their breakup become gossip headlines. Dog the Bounty Hunter became a victim of reality fame when his son went to a tabloid about a family disagreement. Granted, what he said was offensive, but the simple fact he is on TV made it become a major news story. The truth is if he were not on TV it`s doubtful anyone would have given a second thought to his private family`s crisis. More and more celebrities are making fame a family affair, but at what cost? Family and personal business can easily become public business. We all have sides of ourselves we don`t want others to see. Be careful; because once you let the cameras inside your home it is hard to just turn them off.