5.28.2009

Critics worry reality TV kids are exploited

http://www.theprovince.com/Entertainment/Critics+worry+reality+kids+exploited/1636525/story.html
http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.theprovince.com/entertainment/critics+worry+reality+kids+exploited/1636525/1635431.bin?size=620x400
Hollywood abounds with child stars whose lives went off the rails, but the boom in reality TV raises new ethical questions that have come to a head in the case of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children.
U.S. celebrity magazines, blogs and tabloids are in a frenzy about the new season of reality show "Jon & Kate Plus 8," in which the parents of sextuplets and twins appear to be barely speaking to each other and contemplating divorce.
[...]
On Wednesday, Kate's brother and sister-in-law, Kevin and Jodi Kreider, appeared on CBS News' "The Early Show" to appeal to the couple to stop exploiting their children.
"They're being viewed as a commodity," Kevin Kreider said.
Jodi Kreider said the children were aware of the cameras and uncomfortable having them present on every vacation.
"Kids have bad times, bad moments, they cry, and having the camera zoom in on a crying child . . . this should not be a form of entertainment," she said.
[...]
TLC did not respond to a request for comment, but a statement quoted in The New York Times said ratings were growing due to "interest in these real-life issues."
"We will continue to air as the interest continues, and the family wants to do it," the TLC statement said.
Michael Brody, media chairman of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said the treatment of the Gosselin children may amount to abuse, though he added that he had not met the family.
"Look at what has happened to all these child stars," Brody said. "Most of these people are in rehab or they're involved in child abuse, it's horrendous."
The Gosselins have said they are motivated by the need to feed and educate the children. The New York Times cited reports the parents are paid $25,000 to $50,000 for each episode.
"The entertainment business is vast and powerful," Petersen said. "Somebody has to stand up to them and say, 'You can't do this to children any more.'"
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