The XX Factor

What Michael Jackson Can Teach the Gosselins

I was particularly touched by Emily Yoffe’s remembrance of Michael Jackson as the young, innocent, and extraordinarily talented boy he once was, before his life went terribly wrong. His childhood played out in public like the lives of kids on reality TV shows, before the concept of reality TV was even fully formed. As a result, his childhood was ruined, and he never got over it. Yet, despite such cautionary tales, parents continue to push their kids in front of the cameras long before the age of consent. Just look at the children of Jon & Kate. Or rather, don’t look. Please don’t look, and let’s starve such shows of their ratings and thereby spare their young stars a similar fate.

That’s the tribute I wish we could pay Jackson in his death. Because as it stands, it’s already too easy picturing the Gosselin brood all grown up: the plastic surgeries to come, the TV specials of their family “reunions” (complete with vicious sibling rivalries), the “comebacks” for child stars who are famous merely for having always been famous (without even the compensatory joy of having had a genuine talent, as Jackson had in spades). Maybe they’ll be lucky. Their fame, after all, is diluted by their numbers. So maybe it won’t turn out so ugly for them in the end. Then again, I think we all know: It’s unlikely to be pretty.