Friday, March 28, 2008

I Can’t Help Craving Useless Knowledge…

I’m no Cliff Claven. I don’t know details about a wide range of topics. I would do horribly on Jeopardy. I am certain I’d be too intense with the buzzer, I can’t think quickly on my feet, and moreover, I just don’t think I’d know many answers. So, what sort of knowledge is it that I crave then? Well, I suppose I have fallen victim to the world of reality TV. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve recently realized that I have a habit of crossing the line from casual viewer to innocent stalker.

Here are a few examples to help you follow:

1. I’ve recently stumbled upon the Discovery Health show Jon & Kate Plus 8. In a nutshell, they had some fertility issues and then gave birth to twins, followed four years later by sextuplets. I find it fascinating: potty training 6 toddlers, caring for 8 kids with the flu, cooking (all organic!) for 10 people three times a day, and of course watching the interaction of the very cute kids. I find 30 year old Jon to be an adorable and helpful dad and try to remember when Kate is sometimes mean to him that her life is stressful, and she herself admits in the show’s intro that “having two sets of multiples doesn’t always bring out the best in us.” I should also note that Kate is a good mom, and I appreciate how she is very focused on giving each child some individual attention. I DVR’d some episodes from a marathon of last season, wanting to know more of the back story. I watched but it wasn’t enough…I still had more questions. This is where the obsession comes in. I can’t just watch the show and let it go. I found myself on the web this morning, watching a video Q&A on how they met, reading their synopsis on each child’s personality, and then even reading Kate’s mothering tips. I found myself frustrated that the website didn’t have even more to share with me about the family.

2. Please try not to choke up vomit, but I’ve caught a few episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Kim Kardashian is a Paris Hilton friend with a big booty (and a sex tape), and she too is inexplicably “famous.” So, I’m quasi-watching this program, and I see Bruce Jenner in her house. Hmm, what’s this all about? I’m intrigued…how does he fit into this picture? I did some googling and came up with all kinds of tidbits. Apparently, the former Olympian is her stepfather. Bruce and Kim’s mom, Kris, have been married since 1991. They have two pre-teen daughters together plus Kris has 4 kids from her previous marriage to Robert Kardashian. I read on to find that Kris was Nicole Simpson’s best friend at the time of her death, and Kris’s ex-husband was one of OJ’s lawyers. Suddenly, I felt like I knew the family better. Still doesn’t really explain why Kim’s famous, but it was satisfying to learn some history.

3. Finally, I watched DWTS earlier this week and noticed a shot of Jason Taylor’s family. I know nothing about him, but his daughter looked absolutely adorable, so again I found myself at the computer, finding out how he met his wife (she’s the sister of one of his Dolphin’s teammates), learning the names of his three kids (Isaiah, Mason, and Zoe if I remember correctly), and then determining whether the info I found led me to believe he was a nice guy (it did.) What did I ever do before the internet?

I could share many more examples of the type of research displayed above, but these are a few of the pathetic examples about how I care too much about the lives of people I don’t know. I should qualify that I don’t necessarily “care” about their lives, as much as I just find myself wanting to know about them. Apparently I am not the only one as the top google searches each week are usually on people like those in my searches above. In my defense, I like to know everyone’s story, famous or not. I’m not after gossip, I just like knowing the history behind what got a person to their current spot in life.

As far as the info on the reality “stars,” I can’t help but wish I had a desire to instead seek knowledge on topics that would arm me with knowledge that might actually make me a more well-rounded person. I guess I’ll make that shift sometime, but meanwhile, if you need help with a trivia question on pop culture in the 21st century, give me a ring. I probably know more than I should.


E... said...

Oh, I'm right there with you. Whenever a seemingly obscure celebrity type appears on the news, my husband turns to me and asks -- so who is that, and what's his/her story. I sometimes pretend not to know, but really, I usually do. On the Gosselins (Jon and Kate et al) -- let me know if you find out more about the absent grandparents and help my mom and I out, because it really bothers us. In return I'll share all the useless info I've procured on Dog the Bounty Hunter and his many many children.

MEP said...

Thanks for the awesome post, LAP. I think being interested in and curious about the lives of others is a good quality. People's stories--famous or not--interest me as well. Though this isn't the time and place to go into it, I think the more stories any one person is exposed to, the more compassionate that person tends to be. Also, it's sort of an intellectual challenge to watch reality television and try to make inferences about individuals based on all the little details one observes on the show. Watching reality tv doesn't have to be a mindless "guilty pleasure" (I hate the term "guilty pleasure," by the way).

Like you, I find myself seeking more details. The best example of this is my frequent consultation of the blogs posted on After Top Chef, Project Runway, and Real Housewives, I often (but now always) check the blogs for each show to hear what the show participants have to say now that they have seen themselves in the episode.

If it makes you feel better about your craving for "useless" knowledge, I will share with you that one of my friends, a loyal NTB reader, spent last evening tracking down the year pretentious Alex from Real Housewives graduated from Northwestern. 1994, in case you are interested. I thought she was older, and this new piece of information has me revisiting some of my inferences.

Also, one more reality television comment, though unrelated. The highlight of my Thursday (which was a pretty dismal day) was seeing Dale from Top Chef Season 3 walking down Southport, the main street near my house. I was driving so I couldn't stop and fawn all over him, but I can't speak to what I might have done had I passed by on foot.

LAP said...

e - I found a new website on the Gosselins with the following comment from Kate: "Our kids DO have grandparents, but none that are involved in our daily lives." Doesn't provide a lot of insight, but apparently they do exist. Also, my add'l research showed an extensive speaking engagement tour...I find it puzzling how they can pull that off? Perhaps future episodes will enlighten us...

Actchy said...

I find myself nodding my head at this post and thinking, "Yes, yes, this is so familiar to my experience!" but not because I am much of a reality TV person. More so because ever since I began reading NTB, and subsequently authoring Beyond Pickles, I take tours through the internet to see what I can glean about bloggers (and blog commenters). It can be a fun challenge when someone has a nom de plume and I’d like to see if I know that person in real life. During one of these recent research journeys, I found myself at "Playgroups Are No Place for Children", on an entry concerning Jon & Kate Plus Eight. I knew nothing of the show prior to reading this hilarious post, and to be honest, LAP, even considering your glowing review, I probably still won't watch it. But it is likely that I *will* continue to read all sorts of blog-posted updates. In much the same way I will continue to follow PITA's review of DWTS though I never actually tune into the show.

PS: The above blog has a super-cool feature; there is a list on the page that shows the location of current/recent visitors. In other words, when I was on, it showed an image of the American Flag and "New York, NY", and I saw that randomly, someone from my sister's small town in northern NJ was also reading. I called to see if it was my sister and if we shared similar internet stalking habits. It was not and we don't.

msp said...

love the blog, lap. i have found myself clearing the history on my laptop because i do not want my husband to think i am a complete waste of an individual during the day. i swear i am not on, etc. while my children are watching endless hours of tv, but i can't help myself on occasion.
p.s. i don't like the phrase "guilty pleasure" either. though raised catholic, think guilt in general is unnecessary and awful.

Anonymous said...

lap- Love love love the part on the Gosselins. It is my favorite reality tv show on these days. I find myself abandoning usual tv commitments if I come across a Jon and Kate plus 8 even if it is a re-run. I am glad to find out that they have grandparents...that was a concern of mine. Sometimes I think Kate is a bit bossy but I guess you have to be when you are a mother of 8. I also have favorite kids...Aaden, Alexis and Cara. Oh I love that show.

LAP said...

Can't tell you all how much I enjoy the feedback and to know that others do internet stalking as well.

mep - yes, you directed me to the bravo blogs a while back and these too are a new "go to" place for me following episodes (i.e. when I was worried that Ny housewife LuAnn would fire her nanny for making some comments to the camera about LuAnn sometimes being an absent parent)

actchy - loved your link...not only did it lead me to that particular Gosselin story but it further fed my addiction by showing me the way to some more stories on them as well

msp - I am with you on your comments

emfagel - I imagine we could talk at length about Jon & Kate's family and would enjoy doing so someday. So your favs are the professor, the wild one, and the sweet one?

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