The XX Factor

The Death of the Private Life

Compared to what’s bubbling up in the culture this morning, Elizabeth Edwards seems positively demure. This morning on the Today Show , Kate Gosselin , star of the one family reality circus, Jon and Kate Plus Eight , went on to flog her new book, Eight Little Faces , but also to talk about whether or not her husband, who was seen walking out of a bar with another woman, is having an affair. (The woman’s brother said they’ve been seeing each other for three years; Jon made a very unconvincing denial on the show.) Kate says she really wants to “weather the storm” and “just focus on the kids.” She said this with her usual sweet, wholesome expression. The whole exchange left me feeling not that she was opportunistic, but that she actually believed that going on the Today Show to talk about whether he was or wasn’t having an affair was the best thing for her family.

So there really is no distinction anymore in the culture between an actual private life and a private life chronicled on weekly television. The Truman Show , which came out in 1998, would seem like a relic now in an age when it’s impossible to believe that the star of a reality show would not be complicit in his own exposure, or that he would be troubled by it in any way. And Elizabeth Edwards, who was blogging about her son’s untimely death in a car accident before there were bloggers, is a pioneer in understanding the collapse of these distinctions.

If we need more proof, read this story in today’s New York Times home section called “Branding the Family” about the fabulous duo of decorators, Robert and Cortney Novogratz, who will have their own Bravo reality show in the fall. Given that they only have seven children and are much more fabulous looking than the Gosselins, there will surely be a storm to weather soon. So tune in…