Imagine entertainment value of these shows rises as
Imagine a regular day in an American household: you come home from work or school, tired and stressed, you flop down on the couch, reach for the remote and turn on the television, looking for an escape. “Oh, yes! ” you exclaim when you find your favorite reality television show is on. You reach for your drink and settle back to watch, but what exactly is it that you are watching? Many people don’t realize the negative messages their favorite shows may be sending. Most reality t.
v shows have underlying messages of degradation and humiliation of others, materialism and superficiality, and he reinforcement of stereotypes. Is this really what we, as a society want as an influence for ourselves and our kids? The degradation and humiliation of others is a common theme we see threaded throughout the most popular reality t. v.
shows. It seems that the entertainment value of these shows rises as the amount of disgrace and mortification of the characters increases. In other words, people find more enjoyment at the distress and misfortune of others. There is a word for this we have borrowed from the Germans, schadenfreude. This word s defined as “the pleasure one receives at the suffering of others” (Reality Check). The Bad Girls Club is a perfect example of this. In this show, 6 or 7 “bad” or misbehaved young women, between the ages of 21 and 30, are thrown together in a house and are encouraged to shock the audience with vulgarity and oftentimes violence.
In one particular episode, “Life’s a Bleach” two of the characters on the show decide they do not like another girl and elect to get her kicked out of the house, which can only happen if the physical violence of one participant towards a co-star reaches a certain point. The irls devise a plan to do and say whatever they can to get the other girl out. The two run up the stairs to the victims room and begin yelling and screaming in her face, calling her all sorts of names as well as telling her to leave.
When they realize the yelling hasn’t had the effect they were hoping for, the two girls move on to terrorizing the victim. They proceed to do this by smashing the other girl’s possessions and pouring anything they can find all over her room. When the victim still appears to not be fazed, they opt for a more direct approach. One of the aggressors runs to the kitchen and grabs bottles of ondiments and other such substances while the other hits the bathroom, each appearing in the bedroom once again, this time both hands equipped with “weapons. ” They hurdle themselves at the girl and begin pouring and heaving things at her, until she is dripping wet and covered in unknown substances.
The girl finally retaliates when she grabs a bottle of bleach and throws it at the other two, where it lands all over their clothes and hair. Not one of these three girls went home that night, which may be appalling after such a vicious attack on other human beings.In fact, the two assailants spent the entire season terrorizing other housemates, in hopes of kicking out the most people in the show’s history. This example depicts not only how desensitized people have become to the pain of others, but how it is now embraced as entertainment. It is not healthy to be amused when others are humiliated and degraded, but that is exactly what reality t. v.
has brought our nation to believe. Materialism and superficiality are other reoccurring themes we see in the world of reality t. v. Materialism is described as “the preoccupation with or emphasis on material hings” (Dictionary. com). The accentuation of having the best and most expensive items on the market would be materialism.
We see a lot of this on shows such as The Real Housewives of New Jersey. One of the participants, Teresa Guidice builds a new home during one of the seasons. She goes from store to store, focusing on having “the best home out there. ” The Guidice family had declared bankruptcy due to the wife’s spending on frivolous things, even before the completion of their grand new house. The obsession extends to things such as clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories as well as electronics ike phones and mp3 players and the transportation they own.
To be considered superficial, one must be “concerned with only what is on the surface” (dictionary. com). All editions of The Real Housewives, seem to ooze superficiality. The ladies on the multiple versions of the show glorify plastic surgery, to the extent that they throw plastic surgery parties. They have the surgeon come to the house and perform different procedures while the group socializes with alcoholic drinks in the other room. A message like this is certainly not one we would like all the little girls in our country eceiving. This message tells young girls that they are never beautiful enough and gives many of them complexes.
The emphasis on the exterior which we see in both materialism and superficiality, is toxic to the children and even adults in our society. Another topic we see reiterated all over reality t. v. is stereotypes. Stereotyping is defined as “a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group” (Dictionary. com).
Many shows reinforce this idea of stereotyping, not only angering those of the certain group being ortrayed but allowing others to believe that all members of the group behave this way and hold the same beliefs. A good example of this is MTV’s The Jersey Shore. This show places an emphasis on the clubbing and outrageous acts of the guido, or Italian- American, co-stars. The show depicts the gelled-up, “the higher the hair, the closer you are to heaven” group on a seemingly endless party train with next to little or no cares, at least not ones that seem very important.
Every day the group is portrayed drinking excessively and every night they are at a different nightclub, behaving abominably.The show’s reinforcement of this particular stereotype has caused much controversy and it enrages many of this group of people. Reinforcement of stereotypes teaches children to see a person not as an individual with unique beliefs and behaviors, but as one of a group that members all act the same. Reality television may be a great way to destress and relax at the end of a long day, but you must be aware of the underlying messages the shows may be sending you. The encouragement of such negative subject matter, like humiliation and degradation of thers, materialism and superficiality, and stereotyping, does have an effect on society, the kind we would rather not see. If you are able to recognize the damaging themes then watching such programs may be okay, but not everyone may be aware; therefore it is up to us to help others to become conscious of these messages, before more harm can come to our society. Works Cited Dictionary.
com | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Dictionary. com. Web. 2 Oct. 2011.
. Jaffe, Eric. “Reality Check. ” APS: Association for Psychological Science. Mar. 2005.
Web. 25 Sept. 2011.