Thursday, February 05, 2009
The Best Way To Make Money, Apparently
ART+LIFE(?) Month continues...
I've spent a lot of time planning for how my kids are going to support me financially in the future, keeping close track of trends to make sure that not only will my kids make a lot of money, but that they will do so in a manner which I find the most enjoyable.
That's why, for a long time, I had planned for at least one of my kids to be a left-handed relief pitcher in the major leagues, and the other to be a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. I would be their agent and would spend my time going to watch my kids play sports while taking a generous, let's say 20%, cut of their earnings.
That had its downside, though -- first, it would require that I spend time watching baseball games, which no person in his right mind wants to do more than about once every two years, and then only when he absolutely can't get out of it and has to go because his Dad insists and has already bought the tickets. Second, it would require that I go watch football games in Buffalo. Now, I like the Buffalo Bills, but I like them through the TV, where I can't feel the minus-40-degree temperatures that Buffalo enjoys. As a high temperature. In August.
Plus, let's face it. The Bills are pretty bad these days.
Luckily, our twin boys, Mr F and Mr Bunches were spared those fates -- and I was thus spared those fates, too.
I should mention that in focusing on using Mr F and Mr Bunches to secure my financial future, I'm not in any way denigrating the three older kids. I have to focus on Mr F and Mr Bunches because by the time I realized that the key to financial security lay in mooching off my kids, the older kids were already old enough to be past my manipulation. It was too late to convince The Boy to be a pitcher, and far far too late to get Older or Middle into singing or American Idol auditions or anything like that.
Anyway, Mr F and Mr Bunches, and I, were all spared the problematic future of having to sit through sporting events, maybe in the cold, by the rise of the Disney network. When Britney Spears hit it big, and before she went off the deep end, I learned of an even better option for my future financial security than having kids who were good at sports.
Being good at sports, after all, meant that they'd have to spend long hours practicing and getting better, with the constant risk that they'd injure themselves or get cut or simply not make the grade, and what good would that do me? Plus, wouldn't I have to practice with them, or at least occasionally attend their games and practices?
But the Disney network, beginning with Britney and then Christina Aguilera and then Justin Timberlake -- all former Mouseketeers who now could buy and sell me without my even knowing it -- promised a better, and easier, path to riches. Just get some cute kids (check!) and get them onto a movie or show, any movie or show, and sit back and wait for the riches to roll in. Once they got noticed, at all, they'd be certain to keep getting noticed, and, as Einstein so famously pointed out, Notice = Money.
(It was one of his lesser known theories.)
You don't have to take my word for that. Britney Spears was a Mousketeer who got plucked from obscurity to "sing" and dance and eventually had enough money that she could be court-ordered to pay her dad $16,000 a month simply to keep her from being ripped off.
Hey, I could easily be paid $16,000 a month to keep my kids from being ripped off. Heck, I'd do it for half that.
There are others, too, who have done even more with even less. The Olsen Twins parlayed their one talent -- being twins -- into a media empire which has resulted in them each being worth about $50 million. Even lesser-known twins could cash in. Have you ever heard of Dylan and Cole Sprouse? Probably not. They were the kid in Adam Sandler's movie "Big Daddy." You know, the one that smelled like urine.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse turned that into a currently-running TV show -- on the Disney network -- that has generated enough financial interest to have the Olsen Twins buy them. (Nope. I'm not making that last line up at all.)
Hey, I thought. I have twins that the Olsen Twins could buy, too.
Get on a TV show and the world becomes your dad's oyster. Fame begets fame, as TBOE readers know, and after a certain point you don't even have to have talent anymore. You just have to have once been on TV, and they'll let you do anything. In a world where hack actors get a chance to write a book simply because they were actors, once, it's not so great a leap to have kids show up on TV and then begin singing and then star in movies, all without anybody noticing that there's not a lot of talent there.
And, there are even more benefits to that plan of mine, such as the other kids get to come along, too. Jamie Lynn Spears got a TV show after Britney became famous. Beyonce's sister has apparently made a record or something. And Ashlee Simpson went from someone who once stood in the background of her sister's television show to someone who, if the media can be believed, has appeared on TV on her own, or sung a song, or something.
So if I could find a way to get Mr F and Mr Bunches on TV , then it would only be a matter of time before the Olsen Twins bought not only them, but their older brothers and sisters, too. And at 20% for me, for each of five kids, that meant it would not be long before I was netting 100% of the profits.
Still, there was a hitch. They had to get on TV first, or sing a song, or do something. Which meant a lot of work for me. I'd have to teach them a song, or get them to learn their lines, or get them to act cute on camera, plus I'd still have to go watch them perform, and upload their videos to "America's Funniest Home Videos," and negotiate with the Olsen Twins, and that all promised to cut into my time, time I spent, you know, not doing that stuff.
Luckily for me, that route to fame and fortune got short-circuited yet again, as is the American way. Luckily for me, pioneers in the field of getting paid for doing nothing much of anything have now opened the door for me to use my kids to secure my financial future without doing anything other than existing.
Luckily for me, I heard of TetraKaiDecaMom, who proved to me that The Best Way To Make Money These Days, Apparently, is to simply have kids and then wait back for the money to roll in...
TetraKaiDecaMom -- I call her that because, as we all know, "tettares kai deka" is Greek for fourteen -- is the latest in a small but ever-growing group of pioneers who have proven that the easiest way to make money is to simply exist and then bring more people into existence, enough people to draw our attention to you, so that we will then pay you money to let us watch you and your progeny exist for our entertainment.
Thanks to TetraKaiDecaMom, and her fellow pioneers in Baby Profiteering, people like The Duggars and "John & Horrible Kate Plus 8," I no longer have to worry about anything. I don't have to have my kids practice sports or develop skills. I don't have to have them read lines or learn to lip-synch and dance. I don't have to marry them off to Kevin Federline or apparently blackmail Tony Romo with some evidence he doesn't want revealed.
I don't even have to parent. I just have to exist, and have my kids exist.
That's what it's come to, right? That's what this is all about. People are going to give TetraKaiDecaMom $2 million for "her story," but don't we already know her story? Her story is that she had a bunch of kids to get the money to raise that bunch of kids.
Which doesn't mean she won't get a book deal and TV show deal, and it doesn't mean that we won't see her on TV, following after "John & Kate Plus the 8 Kids They Reluctantly Agree To Keep Coparenting Because If They Divorce The TV Show Deal Is Off," and just before "The Duggars," who are parents of 17 kids (and counting!) and who would like you to know that they are living by God's plan, that they "do not consider [them]selves 'Professional Parents' and that they "believe that each child is a special gift from God," and also who as not professional parents, would like you to know that their new TV series has begun running on TLC, and who also would like you to know that you can find clips of their shows on YouTube, and who also would like you to know that you can play an online game called "Name That Duggar," and who also would like you to know that they have answered all of the questions that have been submitted to them over the years, and who also would like you to know that the answers they've given can be found in their "brand new book" which "is in stores now," and who finish up on their website by expressing the sincerity of their totally non-capitalistic, deeply-held religious views as follows:
Make sure to catch "17 Kids & Counting!" Monday nights on the new Family Night on TLC!
See, professional parents would have had that sentence link over to the TV schedule. You can tell the Duggars are not just in it for the money because they did not do that.
Instead, they linked to where you can buy their book ("at a reduced price!").
Plus, professional parents would have had a kid during a sweeps month. The Duggars totally wasted it by having their 18th (hence the "and counting!") in December.
So it cannot possibly be long before TetraKaiDecaMom gets her own TV show, something she must be dearly waiting for, because getting yourself and your purposely-large family onto TV is the route to riches.
I know that because Sweetie watches Jon & Kate Plus Two Who Weren't Good Enough On Their Own Plus Six More and I've noted over time that the family has gone from one in which both parents worked at jobs and shopped at outlet stores and tried to buy in bulk just to make ends meet, to one in which the parents, accompanied by plenty of child care and assistance, went to Disney World on a trip that appeared to be entirely free and given for promtional purposes, to one in which the entire family rented a beach house for a week or so, maybe longer, to one in which the entire family of ten people, ten people theoretically existing on the low wages earned by the parents, went shopping for houses and one of the houses they looked at was a horse ranch.
At this point, then, Jon And Kate Plus Residuals For A Lifetime has morphed from a show about how difficult it is to parent all those kids into a show that, frankly, I want to be my life: a show in which the parent's only task is to find a way to make it interesting for people. Jon & Kate are not parenting, not the way we think of it. They are not having to leave their kids in the morning to go off to work. They don't have to try to struggle twins into car seats to go grocery shopping and hope that they get the right kind of Ranch dressing. They don't have to worry about whether there will be enough time to cook dinner after they get home from the office and before they have to go off to the meeting about how to pay for college.
They don't even have to worry about how to pay for college.
Instead, they have to engage in a totally different set of tasks: They have to find ways to try to act like a camera is not hovering above their shoulder while they make homemade peanut butter. They have to pretend, when they shop for bunk beds, that they brought the 8 kids along for a reason other than to create conflict and tension in the episode, and they have to pretend that they really are seriously trying to decide which bunk bed to get and are not just killing time in the store waiting for a kid to melt down on camera. They have to act as though they do not get free goods from sponsors and that they are not paid what some estimate to be as much as $3.1 million per year for simply existing and allowing themselves to be filmed.
And I want in on that.
I want my days to be filled not with the mundane tasks of living -- not with traffic commutes and diaper changing and laundry and making my lunch to take to work with me the next day and taking the Babies! to the library with me or going with everyone for an ice cream cone. I want my days to be filled not with that, but with the stuff that parenting on these TV shows is made of. I want to drive to North Carolina to shop for multimillion dollar houses. I want to go on a book tour. I want to get interviewed by Oprah or Diane Sawyer and tell them my thoughts on things and have people pay attention to me simply because I have a lot of kids.
It's perfect, isn't it? I can now make money off of my kids and I don't need to parent them at all. I don't need to pass on life skills to them or make sure they know how to read or encourage them to express their creativity or teach them how to budget, at all. I don't even have to really be there for them, because I will have nannies and a personal chef to help take care of them, too, so that I, too, can be a good parent by "peel[ing] myself out of the kitchen ... to do interviews" about how good a parent I am and what a challenge it is raising my family with only the help of those nannies and chefs and cameramen and the crew of people coming around.
So goodbye, left-handed pitcher. Sorry, Buffalo, but you'll have to survive without one of my kids as your future quarterback. Hannah Montana, your media empire is safe from the depredations of everyone but the Olsen Twins. I've got an easier way to make money off my kids, and that way, which is The Best Way To Make Money, Apparently, is simply to get people to pay me to have kids.
True, there are two flaws in this plan. The first is the one you've already picked up on -- that it requires more and more kids to keep the public's attention. Jon & Kate Plus 8 Plus By God We'll Have 8 More If That's What It Takes might've just found that out the hard way, as TetraKaiDecaMom and the Duggars promise to bounce them out of the spotlight (You can almost hear the producers saying: "Only 8 kids? That's nothing, anymore.") The stakes are high here. But I can cover that problem, through a combination of convincing Sweetie that babies are cute enough that we need more, dressing our cats up like kids, and adopting Cousin Oliver.
The other flaw is more serious, and it's this: What about when people get bored with this? Won't that happen? Won't there come a day when people say, wait a minute, I'm a parent, and I don't recall having all this free time to spend looking at horse ranches, and nobody ever cleared out the whole zoo in advance of my trip there just so I could roam around at leisure and not get confused about which kid I brought. Won't there come a day when people say, Hey, this doesn't seem so real, after all! (It happened with The Hills, after all, which people believed was a reality show right up until the first episode aired.)
I've considered that, too. You didn't think that, having come this far along in my scheme to retire and live off my kids, I'd be content to have a TV show last only a few years and then go back to my ordinary life, did you?
No, I've got an answer ready for that day when people aren't content to simply sit around and watch me engage in wacky adventures with my kids (and by "wacky" I do not mean "having a complete nervous breakdown at Disney World simply because a kid got some ice cream on her shirt, a nervous breakdown which was both badly acted and obviously a premeditated attempt to make sure the cameras stay on me and not on my damn kids"). It's a plan which, because of the very real possibility that someone will steal it and produce it before I get my own deliberately-oversized clan on TV, I will only give you a hint:
Remember Battle of the Network Stars? Like that, only with superfamilies.
That's right, TetraKaiDecaMom. That's right, Duggars. That's right, Jon & Kate Plus We'll Never Stop Adding So Just Let Us Win Already. We'll take you all down, just me the older kids and Sweetie and Mr F and Mr Bunches and those two kids who aren't cats dressed up like people, and Cousin Oliver. May the best family win.
So long as it's mine. And so long as I get rich because of it.