Defiantly wholesome


Want to splash around in morbidity for a moment?

There’s always the new season of 19 and Counting.

And Counting – geddit? It’s not really “and Counting” now because Michelle Duggar miscarried #20. The new season is kind of morbid that way.

And not just that way. I find it kind of morbid overall. “Morbid” isn’t really the right word, I suppose – the Atlantic’s “creepy” is better – but it is, in a way – what’s dead is the mind. The whole atmosphere is Stepfordish. Yes they’re all very cheery and smiley and friendly and warm – but so would programmed pod people be.

This is, at least on film, a defiantly wholesome family; these kids aren’t constantly moaning about shopping malls and video games, cellphones and parties. Maybe that stuff factors in off-air, but in TLC’s carefully edited version of the Duggars’ world, all children, ages 2 to 18, are happy to be gamboling about together in a cornfield. That’s fine! It’s a little weird, of course, but why would anyone watch TLC if they didn’t want something a little weird?

Yes but the weirdness isn’t really fine, given what we know about how this weirdness is achieved. As Richard Lawson goes on to say.

And then of course there was the infusion of religion that probably earns the series a fair number of looky-loos (ahem). Michelle Duggar, the broodmare who gave birth to this baseball team, was invited to speak to a ladies group at a nearby church, and though what we saw of the speech was mostly a series of platitudes about family and children and all that, there was a single shot that said much more — the camera panned over a handout that Michelle brought to the event, and the content was pretty unsettling. TLC maybe included this shot for people like us, who of course paused it and advanced the frames to read as much of it as we could, and, whooo boy, was it unpleasant. It was all about how to make your husband happy in a marriage, which is of paramount importance to patriarch-dominated Quiverfull families. There were things about how wives shouldn’t refuse their husbands’ sexual advances, about how self-reliance is what kills marriages, about not stepping out of bounds in terms of what your responsibilities are as a wife (do too much and you emasculate him, you see). It was all reeeeally gross stuff that you never really hear the Duggars talking about on the show, but is absolutely the unspoken (on camera, at least) foundation of their family.

We know. We know this thanks to Libby Anne and Vyckie Garrison and others. 19 and Counting is morbid because of the death of potential and freedom and exploration.

 

Comments

  1. Marshall says

    TLC has the option of either being honest in their presentation of the Duggars and the Quiverfull movement, or having a lighthearted and fun TV show. They can’t possibly do both, and it seems they’ve gone with the latter. This is ultimately destructive and misleading, particularly when they present the family as being an atypically happy family. It creates a phony world where what the Duggars are doing is a GOOD thing by selectively editing out the most negative aspects of it all, with the exception of things they can’t possibly hide; the miscarriage being the most relevant example. What is the implicit message here? You already know it.

  2. Didaktylos says

    And of course the other totally false thing about it is that it is only the money they’re making from the TV show and the rest that allows them to support their lifestyle. They’d never manage it if they had to work for a living in the normal way.

  3. Boomer says

    The Duggars don’t bother me all that much. If Michele Duggar choose to have 19 kids, then I guess that’s her business.

    The TLC ‘lifestyle’ show that bothers me the most, and which represents the biggest longterm danger for women and women’s rights, is the one that features a guy with four wives, all of whom seem to chasing after some sort of domestic slavery.

    Four women shilling for polygamy, while at the same time being oblivious to the suffering of millions of women trapped (enslaved?) in such ‘marriages’ is a sickening spectacle.

    Four turkeys cheering on the arrival of Thanksgiving.

  4. says

    It’s not just Michelle Duggar’s business if she “chooses” to have 20+ children – it’s also, for instance, her children’s.

    And then, she and Jim Bob made it all of our business by going on tv with it, and preaching at us about it.

  5. Boomer says

    And then, she and Jim Bob made it all of our business by going on tv with it, and preaching at us about it.

    There’s big money in them thar kids!

  6. iknklast says

    Is it just their business? After all, this is a limited planet with limited resources, and these large families are showing very little recognition of that. TLC is even worse, because one family like that might not matter, but putting them on TV is spreading the “joy” of pro-natalism.

    Not to mention, I was from a large family myself, and most people outside thought of us that way – sort of Walton’s like – but we were really more like Tobacco Road. Ever wonder why people from large families often choose to have small families themselves? There really is a reason for that, and it isn’t just to be different than Mom and Dad.

  7. Boomer says

    Is it just their business? After all, this is a limited planet with limited resources, and these large families are showing very little recognition of that. TLC is even worse, because one family like that might not matter, but putting them on TV is spreading the “joy” of pro-natalism.

    I’ve no wish to defend the Duggars, but are you suggesting we should be telling people how many children they can and cannot have?

    And as for resources and population and such, America is hardly an overpopulated country, otherwise we wouldn’t find ourselves giving amnesty every few years to millions of illegals. And if your assertion that kids from large families tend to have small families is true, then is there anything to really worry about?

    If a women wants an abortion, then that’s her choice.

    If a women wants to have 19 kids, then that’s her choice as well.

    I haven’t watched a lot of episodes of 19 and countin, but I have noticed that certain shows feature a family cousin ( a young women about 20) who hasn’t the same beliefs, and who dresss like other ewomen her age, and yet she is certainly welcomed in the home.

    As I said above, the TLC show I find disgusting and offensive is onw about the guy with 4 wives.

    That show vehicles values that represent a very real threat to women’s rights in the longterm.

    And I’ve nothing but contempt for the four dozy bints who devote themselves to servicing a husband, a guy, who isn’t even much to write home about, and who appears to be largely useless.

  8. says

    Well we’re not in a position to tell people how many children they can and cannot have, but we are in a position to tell them how many they shouldn’t have. We can’t force but we can say what we think.

  9. says

    Boomer: I don’t see how it’s any different if Michelle Duggar “chooses” to be in a monogamous marriage and have dozens of kids, or if 4 women “choose” to be in a polygamist marriage. In both cases the idea is that the purpose of the women is to be subservient to men. Lots of women are “trapped (enslaved?)” in monogamous relationships. In some ways, polygamy might improve their lot – at least they would have someone else in the family they could consider themselves equal to, and someone with whom to share the responsibilities of childcare and housework.

  10. Boomer says

    Boomer: I don’t see how it’s any different if Michelle Duggar “chooses” to be in a monogamous marriage and have dozens of kids, or if 4 women “choose” to be in a polygamist marriage.

    I see a huge difference.

    Polygamy is the norm in quite a number of countires and in every country where it IS the norm women’s rights are virtually non-existant.

    I don’t even care about the Duggars, although I must say I don’t find them at all threatening. We have a right to tell Michele what we think of her reproductive proclivities, and she has a right to tells us what she thinks of ours, I guess

  11. says

    Having large families is the norm in a number of religious cultural enclaves in otherwise liberal progressive countries like Canada and the US (eg conservative Catholics, fundamentalist Christians & Mormons, Orthodox Jews). In every community where it is the norm, women’s rights are virtually non-existent.

    It’s not about how many kids the Duggars choose to have – I agree that is a separate issue. It *is* about the fact that, according to the quiverful culture (and other similar cultures), the purpose of a woman is to serve men and have children. Show me a family with 20 kids where the girls and boys are treated equally, where the boys are encouraged to nurture the younger children, and the girls are encouraged to pursue the goals that match their abilities and inclinations (whether motherhood or engineering), and I will agree to the “huge difference” between the quiverful and polygamy.

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