Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Do Reality Shows Abuse Children?

posted by Nell Minow

The Wrap has a provocative column by Domnic Patten about the impact of reality television programs on the children who participate in them.
One problem is a loophole in the law. If children are working as actors on a film or television show, there are very strict limits on how many hours they can work. They are required to have a teacher and a parent or guardian with them. But if it is a “reality” show, it is not considered a job; the theory is that they are just going about their lives and being filmed.

“Jon & Kate Plus 8′s” treatment of the Gosselin children is now being investigated by the Pennsylvania Labor Department.

At the core of the investigation is whether the Gosselins’ Wernersville, Penn., home constitutes a formal TV set, where the children are being instructed and directed. If so, it would bring the production under the state’s child labor laws.

If not — if it’s considered merely a domestic environment where they are being observed and filmed with little direct interaction with producers and crew – the state would have no grounds for violation and the investigation will be closed.

Therapist Drew Pinsky (better known as “Dr. Drew”), put it directly:

“Children can’t give informed consent by definition, only the parents can do that — and reality shows generally don’t cast adults who have the highest level of mental health. They are severe narcissists who are obsessed with celebrity.”



  • Alicia

    I realize you posted this ages ago, Nell, but I do think that these shows can be very destructive, especially for children.
    Let me give a related example. I once met a middle-aged woman, who, as a teenage unwed mother, had been the subject of a documentary, and, it seemed to me that the amount of attention she received at that age, followed by a return to “normal life” had a very destructive effect on her. Not that I knew her incredibly well, but it seemed that she could never “settle” on anything, and it seemed like she was always looking to get back to the kind of attention she’d received as a young girl.
    So I don’t think it is so much the working that is the problem, but the being under the glare of the cameras and all the public attention that may be the problem.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Alicia, and I only posted this a few days ago. I think you make a very important point young and vulnerable performers in both reality and scripted shows can suffer terribly when they are out of the spotlight and miss the attention.

Previous Posts

October 2014: Movies This Month
Happy October! This month is when we start to get the big, award-hopeful fall releases. Some of the highlights of what's ahead this month include: October 3: "Gone Girl," with Ben Affle

posted 3:42:45pm Oct. 01, 2014 | read full post »

The Inside Story of "The Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes: As You Wish
Fans of The Princess Bride, which means pretty much everyone, will love the new book from Cary Elwes (Wesley), who takes us behind the scenes for the inside story of the making of the film, from his nervous audition (his imitation of Fat Albert saved the day) to the most dedicated fans (one had "As

posted 8:00:44am Oct. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Believe Me
Will Bakke has followed his two thought-provoking documentaries on faith with a remarkably smart, funny, brave, and heartfelt first feature film that explores religion and values without ever falling

posted 11:06:16am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike delivers a stunning breakthrough performance in this week's "Gone Girl." She's been a favorite of mine for a long time, for her elegant voice and precise acting choices. It's a good

posted 8:00:23am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Telling Time in "All That Jazz"
One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies -- Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips h

posted 3:19:48pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.