Before the current age of technology, the only way a person could gawk at the so-called "freaks" - the bearded lady, half-ape/half-man, world's shortest man - was when the travelling circus came to town. The interested person would pay their 25 cents, pass through a high-guarded turnstile and ooo and ahhh at the spectacular. The sad thing about this system is that most of these "freaks" were outcasts from society and the only way they could making a living is to degrade themselves by appearing in these types of shows. John Merrick, the Elephant Man, was probably the most famous of these types of people.
Modern morals and technology has changed the nature of these freak shows. On one hand, people is today's society who have such anomalies are treated with much more compassion and we would not think of putting them on public display. Yet, on the other hand - there is reality television. Reality television allows modern-day freaks to be put on public display and allow those interested to view them as they are, coping with every day life - and either, glad to be witness to a situation that is so much worse then more - or on the flip side, watching freaks living a envious lifestyle. And the titles of the show beckon those curiosity seeks to their TV's just as the barkers outside the tent urge the passer-by's to pay their quarter. For example:
Little People, Big World
The Little Couple
Katie plus Eight
Keeping up with the Kardashians
The Real Housewives of OC (DC, NJ)
Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List
Kirstie Alley's Big Life
Sarah Palin's Alaska
And the rumour was that Octo-Mom and the ex-JetBlue flight attendant was talking about a reality show.
These people are different from the average person and are capitalizing on it. I'm sure they are getting more than a quarter per person. Jon and Katie, and others I'm sure, have become very wealthy because of their notoriety. The sad thing about it is because of technology, these people's 15 minutes of fame is hitting us from multiple media sources and lasting far too many seasons.