Idol Chatter

octomom.jpgWhenever I hear mom of fourteen Nadya Suleman referred to as “Octomom,” I immediately conjure up an image of Dr. Octopus from Spider-Man 2, but, instead of Alfred Molina inhabiting the wildly gesticulating, mechanical, tentacled apparatus, Ms. Suleman herself is there with one of her eight newborns clutched in each steely claw.
This woman, at first a curiosity, has taken a cephalopod-like hold on our pop culture. Her actions, not entirely undeservedly, have become a target for America’s anger in these difficult times: she’s being irresponsible in tough economic times; she’s being unfair to her other children; she’s burdening the system; she’s confusing “freak” with “celebrity.” It’s hard to believe, but through her own actions and the populace’s subsequent reactions, this unemployed mother of fourteen is dragging down the pop culture conversation to her own unbalanced level.
First, there was speculation that Ms. Suleman was hoping to get her own show on TLC, following the freaky big-family precedents of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” and “17 Kids and Counting.” I could almost buy the “Duggars made me do it” defense: both shows follow and celebrate abnormally (by the standards of 21st century North America) large families, which enjoy legions of fascinated followers and the book deals and celebrity that have followed. At one point TLC was interested in Suleman’s story, but as of mid-February has lost interest.

Then came the curiosity of the Anne Curry interview. We learned that she was pursuing a psychology degree, though Ms. Suleman seemed more in need of counseling than qualified to provide it.
Soon stories of the unwitting sperm donor/father then surfaced, along with tales of Octomom needing government aid to support her children, but scoping out million dollar abodes. And have I mentioned recent reports that the local child protective services have investigated Ms. Suleman? And let’s not even start with the “Santa Angelina” theories, pointing out suspicious similarities between the new mother and Angelina Jolie and cosmetic surgery rumors.
It was only time before Ms. Suleman was offered big bucks to star in a porn film. Major adult entertainment distributor Vivid Entertainment stepped up to the plate with an offer. That offer was soon followed by a counter offer from competitor Pink Visual: If Suleman declined Vivid’s offer, Pink would supply her with a year’s worth of diapers and keep her from becoming “the subject of endless ridicule and scorn.” They may be too late on that point.
Some people were shocked at the offer from Vivid, but the company’s co-chairman told Ron Reagan on his talk show that the offer is a legitimate business proposal, just like the many other offers she’s considering. Yes, having a sex tape is kind of like this generation’s version of doing a Playboy cover to earn some cash, but it seemed like we had reached the nadir of the lack of accountability and discernment surrounding the entire situation.
Then came the news yesterday that someone is shopping around the tape of Ms. Suleman giving birth to her octuplets for seven figures. According to, “It’s unclear who’s working the camera, but we do know the tape was shot with Nadya’s consent.” It’s not clear who would pocket the money, it may not be Ms. Suleman flacking the tape, but the situation is completely sordid.
Are there really audiences out there for these DVDs? I expect the adult video industry to try to take advantage of the curiosity value associated with Ms. Suleman, but video of her c-section? What media outlet is going to pay seven figures for film of a procedure that Discovery Health shows all the time– especially with the negativity surrounding the mother? Is this a straight to DVD item? Who would buy it?
I’m sure there are many more shockers to come and that our papers, magazines, and websites will be full of Octomom news for months to come. And while eventually Ms. Suleman’s tentacles will retract, it seems that for now she has not only given birth to eight children but a series of new low points in pop culture consumption.
17 Kids and Counting at

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