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DVR Alert: WIMN’s Jennifer L. Pozner on Geraldo At Large, Fox News, Sunday, 10pm, to discuss media coverage of Kate Gosselin

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

April 18th, 2010

[UPDATE, 5:15pm: This segment has just been canceled. Sorry for any confusion; that’s the way live news sometimes goes.]

DVR ALERT: I’m going to be on “Geraldo At Large” on Fox News tonight at 10pm, to discuss media coverage of reality TV star Kate Gosselin.

Gosselin, currently featured on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” has been the subject of intense vitriol in the the entertainment press, the late night comedy circuit and internet fan sites for a couple of years, intensifying as her marriage to Jon Gosselin disintegrated under a national spotlight. (I don’t write about Kate much in Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, so this is an opportunity to discuss issues that were tangential to the book.)

Kate is a complicated and often unsympathetic figure, but one who deserves a different kind of critical scrutiny than she has received. Instead of aiming vicious barbs at her “ugly” hairstyles and her “shrill” demeanor, as we’ve seen time and time again in catty tabloids and venomous websites, we’d do well to question the impact of reality show participation on her eight children. Occasionally a moment of aggressive neglect gets captured on screen (witness Kate taunting her thirsty daughter by drinking water in front of her while denying her even one sip), but there is far less critical focus on the fact that — since reality show participants don’t have the same protections as actors do — the treatment of these kids on “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ may violate rules protecting child actors, and may even violate child labor laws.

I hope to be able to bring some nuance to the conversation on “Geraldo At Large” tonight, to move beyond the typical “Kate Hate” tone and focus instead on:

– the exploitation of young children by TLC, which has turned a tidy profit with “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” and plans to continue to do so with their new shows “Twist of Kate” and “Kate Plus 8″;


– the way the excessive attacks on Kate Gosselin’s parenting skills, appearance and personality map closely to the media’s well-worn “Mommy Wars” trope.

I touched on these concerns briefly in a recent interview with CNN reporter Lisa Respers France, for a story headlined, “Why so much Kate-hate for Gosselin?“:

Jennifer L. Pozner, executive director of the advocacy group Women in Media & News and author of a forthcoming book about reality television, said the Kate-bashing is indicative of an age old struggle.

“A lot of the criticism of Kate is unwarranted and a continuation, I think, of the well-worn media trope about the mommy wars,” Pozner said. “There have been dozens of news stories since the late ’70s, early ’80s, about how working mothers hate stay-at-home mothers and stay-at-home mother supposedly hate working mothers.”

Pozner said she believes the media loves to pit women against women and judge them on their parenting. That is not to say that some of the criticism is not warranted, she said.

“There is a bit of valid judgment of parents, of which she is one of two in this situation, who would subject their children to 24-7 surveillance for a reality show and call that in some way a positive thing to do for the kids,” Pozner said. “There’s no way those kids could possibly understand, evaluate or consent to the implications of living their childhoods on camera and I think that’s one of the reasons people are quick to judge Kate.”

If you’re interested in this discussion, tune in to “Geraldo At Large” on Fox News at 10pm tonight. The segment will likely appear some time toward the middle of the hour. While it may end up being somewhat weighted toward the “fluff” side of entertainment news, I’m hoping the conversation will be as nuanced and useful as the last time I appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s show to critique the regressive cultural mythology hawked by ABC’s “The Bachelor.” (Geraldo, a father of daughters, was extremely disturbed by the messages his girls were getting about dating, and about their own worth, from the show. We had an extremely edifying discussion.)

If you’re interested in a critical media analysis of gender, race, class, sex, advertising (and more) in reality TV, pre-order my book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV today.

And, as always, if you’re interested in bringing me and WIMN to your campus or community group for a multi-media discussion about representations of gender and race in reality TV, contact WIMN using this form, or let us know at info[at]wimnonline[dot]org

2 Responses to “DVR Alert: WIMN’s Jennifer L. Pozner on Geraldo At Large, Fox News, Sunday, 10pm, to discuss media coverage of Kate Gosselin”

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    July 18th, 2013 02:38

    Fulgurous article, I suppose it is one of the prizewinning I’ve ever seen

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    October 2nd, 2013 01:07

    Fulgurous article, I suppose it is one of the prizewinning Ive ever seen

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