Apparently, she's shagging the body guard, and he's shagging an elementary-school teacher.
This gossip is all over the place. You can't leave a supermarket or drugstore without seeing the juicy allegations on magazine covers. It's a huge, huge story. There are kids involved, too. But we'll get to the kids later.
Who would care about this story? Well, people who monitor and comment on the activities of Hollywood stars and rich, professional party-animals, care deeply. They care because they are puzzled and angry. See, those people on the cover of magazines - the shaggers - don't actually qualify as celebrities.
They are Jon and Kate Gosselin, merely famous for having eight children - twin girls and a set of sextuplets (three girls and three boys) - and having their tedious child-raising adventures chronicled for several seasons on a cable TV show called Jon & Kate Plus 8 (Mondays, TLC, 9 p.m.). The show, such as it is, allows viewers to allegedly see the family enjoy their daily lives, cheerfully challenged by the raising of multiple children. Now it's all become outrageously melodramatic, raunchy and macabre.
Every now and then something erupts from the popular culture in the United States and screams out for major attention. It means something deeper than what's on the surface. This is one of those things.
This season's opening episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8 was creepy and very disturbing. These people are now creatures of reality TV, simultaneously burdened and bedazzled by the fame, the attention and the money that comes with allowing TV cameras into their home. They're freaks, talking in tabloid clichés while claiming to "despise" the tabloids who have become deeply interested in their alleged extramarital shagging sessions.
Jon, who looks like someone on the verge of a breakdown, said he never "cheated" on Kate. Then Kate said, "this is not where we're supposed to be," and wept. And she described the couple as "two very different people." Right now, she told the cameras, "life is just so hard."
What both are talking about is the fame, and the attention. They're not talking about raising eight kids.
The show is now the most vile sort of reality TV - it's about watching a marriage disintegrate, and the participants are utterly involved in the sick charade. They're such self-absorbed fame-sluts that they've learned to play up the personas they've moulded for the cameras - Kate's tense and striving with hints of emasculating shrew; Jon's the grudging home-husband, passive-aggressive, always hiding his real feelings.
The unintended benefit from all of this icky pseudo-drama is what it reveals about the audience. In the U.S. popular culture there's an abiding, sick obsession with pregnancy, babies, families and the accumulation of as many cute tykes as possible.
The infamous Octomom understated this intuitively when she decided to become famous by having a whole passel of babies. Those tabloid magazines currently obsessed with Jon and Kate Gosselin usually spend their time telling readers - and there are tens of millions of readers - about some female celebrity having a "bump," which suggests she's knocked-up. There is a continuing obsession with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and their large brood of kids.
This is far from strange or new. Think about all those immensely popular Steven Spielberg movies and note that the dominant theme in his movies is the repairing of the division between child and parent, and the unification of the family. The dramatic torque of almost every Spielberg movie is getting a family together - mom, dad, kids.
Thus, as icky and repulsive as it might be to even contemplate what's happening on Jon & Kate Plus 8 , it's precisely what the audience wants. Monday's program drew 10-million viewers, more than double the previous record for the show. Viewers luxuriate in the grim, lurid melodrama being played out. Having a bunch of kids is an excellent career move for a couple in the showbiz racket. Especially if she's supposed to be shagging the bodyguard and he's supposed to be shagging an elementary-school teacher.
And the kids? They'll get their own show. Mark my words. That's showbiz.