I have a tooth ache and I did everything right so I am trying to ignore it and hope it goes away. I went to the dentist a little while ago for my six month check up, because that’s how I roll, and he said that I had an old filling than needed to be replaced. Fine. No biggie. Replace it he did. But it hurt the next day. Kind of achy, but not horrible. A week later it still hurt. I went back and he said it would go away. Take some Motrin. I’ve been taking Motrin and Tylenol for going on two months now and the pain still returns when they wear off. I know that I *should* go back and deal with this. I don’t want to. When I did everything right and things went wrong, I want to ignore it and hope it goes away.
When I learned that the parents on the reality TV family of “A Whole Lotta Kids and Counting” had dealt with their son’s bad behavior it in a less than forthcoming way, I could sorta understand why they acted the way that they did. They thought they had done everything right and yet their kid, their eldest, had displayed shockingly wrong behavior in their home. They didn’t want to face the pain. They skirted the issue. They risked additional injury to their family, perhaps for fear of retribution or humiliation. (Recall that Jim Bob, the patriarch, was in public office at the time he learned of the fondling events, so even though they were not yet a reality TV oddity, they were still in the public eye.)
The Duggars are proof that sometimes even though we think we’ve done everything right, something wrong happens. It sucks. Our humanness comes out, both in the bad behavior and in the desire to hide it.
I really wish the Duggars had used the experience as a demonstration that no one is perfect, even this quiverful Christian family. No one should expect them to have publicized what their minor child had done to other minor children. We have laws to protect minors for good reason. However, when they decided to share their lives with the world on reality TV, and allowed their family to become a tabloid target, they could have really made an impact. They could have acknowledged that the family had faced a significant trial and had dealt with it the best they could, even if imperfectly. Instead they hid it, presented a facade to the world and pretended that their lifestyle made them impervious to humanness. They chose to hold up their lifestyle as a sort of moralistic high water mark. They did not acknowledge that even “good” people face extremely trying situations and make mistakes, sometimes devastatingly.
And now they are upset that the world found out and is asking questions. Sorry Duggars. If you live a lie, it usually comes out and not in a good way. If you pay the piper you have to face the music … . Wait, what?
As I swallow a few more Motrin, I think of another reality TV super family, the Jenner-Kardashians. (Talk about living a lie and having it come out – Bruce/Caitlyn, you did not skirt this issue!) This family has lived their lives out loud ever since Kim’s sex tape grabbed the world’s attention so many years ago. They have openly reached for that brass ring, with great fanfare and even greater celebration of money, fame and sinful pursuits. Yet this family, as photo-shopped as their selfies may be, seems to have presented themselves authentically. We see them, glammed-up and huge-bummed, for who they are.
Over the years in Kardashian Klan TV land, we have witnessed a few marriages fail, a life partner/baby-daddy struggle with alcohol abuse and a divorced couple work together to figure out how to raise their teenaged daughters. We feel that these people, with all their flaws and shallowness, love each other. They fight. They hug. They intervene when they are concerned about a sister whose drug-addict ex-husband is ruining her life. Now that Bruce/Caitlyn is a she, we have watched the family support him, and then her, throughout the transformation. But they have also shown us some of the struggle and strain that they felt.
I don’t love the lifestyle that the Jenner-Kardashians choose to live. But at least they don’t hide their many, many imperfections. They let us see their humanness.
Anyone who chooses to put their lives on TV is suspect. I’d guess a higher proportion of dysfunctionality lies there. Chicken or the egg? Did they go on TV because they were dysfunctional or did they become dysfunctional because they were on TV? Either way, they are all pretty messed up. But if you’re going to be messed up and the whole world is watching, the best you can do is own it.