A couple weeks ago I was at the Menlo Park Farmers Market and my favorite vendor (Phil the Prune Man, guy in the 49ers or Giants cap with all the dried fruit and nuts) was pontificating on the state of the world, as he is wont to do.
"I just don't want to know anymore; it's too depressing."
He was talking, of course, about Iran Iraq health care bailout layoffs blahdee blahdee blah. It was then that I realized why Jon & Kate and American Idol absorb people's attention the way they do: people just can't deal with the death toll in Iraq and the chaos in Iran or really understand credit default swaps and GM's bankruptcy. So they look at the Gosselins, whose lives they can sort of relate to, but who have problems big enough to make their own look small. They look to American Idol for, well, I'm not 100% sure because I've never watched it, but maybe there's just something about the elimination/reality/game show genre that's super-addictive.