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The Pop Culture phenomenon that is reality television has been expanding since its arrival in the early 1990’s. Reality TV is the newest television genre but not the weakest by far. After MTV launched the hit show Real World it was clear that realty TV is here to stay. Today reality television is bigger than ever any time of the day you can be sure that some sort of reality program is being aired on a network. Reality television has become so big that it has created whole television networks based around reality programing, networks such as Tru TV and E! Entertainment which is the mother network for hit shows such as Keeping up with the Kardashians and Girls Next Door. Despite the fact reality TV is very popular it can have negative effects on its viewers. Many media analysts believe although reality programing is entertaining it holds almost no redeeming social value whatsoever. When it comes to values of reality TV programs the only values that it seems to give people are superficial or for profit.
Reality TV’s foundation is their sense of vanity, even in shows like duck dynasty which is about a incredibly rich rural family living on a farm. Even though the show is about a red neck life style it doesn’t fail to show the wealth possessed by the family. Reality TV can often make an average person feel un average. When that average Joe tunes in to see three men in ugly beards (Duck Dynasty) spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on useless comities it can make him or her feel like their life isn’t good enough and that they too should be living like the people depicted on television. In the article Is reality T.V. so bad it’s good or just plain bad? By Sabrina Giancioppi she states “At face value, reality television is easily a reflection of everything that is wrong with society.
The only thing worse than the housewives, bachelors, idols, kids from the shore, teen moms and toddlers, might just be those who tune in to watch these shows every week, fuelling our society’s great appetite for idiotism and humiliation (Giancioppi)” this shows that the possible reason for American’s over indulgent us as Americans are so blinded by material objects and vanity that we often fail to acknowledge the great things our country has such has freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Many American’s have a mentality that is never satisfied we as a country seem to have a universal belief that nothing is ever good enough and reality television can be somewhat to blame. On reality TV we see rich house wives living a life of luxury and viewers think that if they are not doing these fabulous things like flying in private jets or going shopping for Bentley’s than we are not truly successful when success is based on one’s own perception not the perception of pop culture.
Reality TV’s big demographic that it reaches out to is the teenager, because they are the ones usually watching the most television in the home ergo they are the best to appeal to. When a young mind of a teenager is exposed to unreal reality and scenarios depicted on reality programs such as Jersey Shore where a household of seven adults spend a summer on the New Jersey beach. The Show consists of drinking, partying, and copulation and was aired for over four years. Shows like Jersey Shore are bad for an older demographic let alone teens. When teens see shows like Jersey Shore it leaves an impression in their mind that this is what it is like to be an adult and they usually believe that because it is the only example they have seen. The problem with so many teenagers being engaged in reality TV programming is that it give false sense of life.
When teens watch reality TV it more often than not makes them feel like they have a dull life. The show Laguna Beach: the real Orange County on MTV is about a local high school girl named Lauren Conrad and her clique of wealthy teen friends that live in Laguna Hills. In the show these kids have more problems and things going on than most adults. This is a prime example of how reality television can make a teens life seem awfully dull compared to the people’s on TV like Lauren Conrad who is constantly going to extravagant place and driving a sports car provided by her wealthy parents. Shows like Laguna Beach that are blatantly aimed to a younger audience should be showing kids and teens a role model and teach lessons that will help them in real scenarios rather than showing them a teenager and her friends alluring life filled with glamour that show lack of positive messages and no role models.
Although reality shows can be bad examples for kids and teens James Poniewozik of Time Magazine writes in his article titled “Why I Watch Reality TV With My Kids” he believes it is good to watch reality television with children and teens because it is the last type of family programming there is. In the article Poniewozik states “It’s no accident that many of the series I’ve mentioned are competition shows: like sports, it’s a genre that can appeal to kid and adult interests without denying either one. Most of these series are made for adults without any particular goal of being all-ages entertainment. But on their own terms, they reflect things that kids are interested in: competition, creation, performance.
Maybe more important, they’re also a kind of structured introduction to the grownup world (Poniewozik)” the claim made by James reveals that there can be positive effects for kids and teens from watching reality shows if they choose to watch a particular show and watch it with their family, but this is not often the case. Usually the child or teen who is watching reality shows are watching with no parental guidance and choose to watch programs that are outrageous or most “grown up” show, they are not looking for the shows with least values not with the most.
Being a teen that has gotten to see reality programming evolve to what it is now has shown me firsthand the lack of value the shows contain. In the Journal of Advertising Research authors Anthony Patino, Veltichka D. Kaltcheva and, Michael F. Smith write about the appeal of reality TV towards teenagers and preteens in the passage the authors state “With the number of hours spent in front of the television set increasing 6 percent annually (Nielsen Media Research, 2009) and the reality programming genre steadily growing, preteens and teens are more likely to be viewing reality programs. More important, there is evidence that young people emulate the behavior of reality stars (Patino, Kaltcheva, and Smith)”. This statement shows that teenagers are spending more time watching television and reality shows more and more. With the rise of teenage viewers in reality television it no wonder on why our youth seems to be growing up faster and faster.
Now a days teenagers no longer want to stay kids for long they see these people on reality TV living an exciting life and they too want their life to be extravagant and exciting and they accomplish this by holding a semblance that depicts that of a reality TV star and doing things like holding themselves to a higher caliber socially or do things they wouldn’t usually take part of like drinking or smoking but because they see these reality TV stars doing these things and thriving they too want that fame and success. Kids now a days are exposed to so much more grown up content mainly due to all the reality television that is going around. When my sister was younger probably in middle school she couldn’t get enough of MTV and VH1 reality shows from Jersey Shore to VH1’s competition shows like Flavor of Love and Bret Michaels Rock of Love. These type of shows were truly the definition of “Trash TV”; the shows consisted of a roller coaster of problems that at the times seemed enthralling.
Shows like the ones my sister would watch made me feel like I was losing brain cells just by watching them, the shows had no plot, no good ideas, no good actors, no nothing. Now I don’t often watch reality television for multiple reasons the biggest simply being there is much better content on television. I would rather watch a such as Breaking Bad or Boardwalk Empire which contains a deep plot that calls for an engaged viewer and shows artistic traits such as cinematography, scoring and set design. Programs with a sense of meaning or artistic value seem more attractive than watching a group of people argue and stress over irrelevant situations. No matter who is watching reality TV or who isn’t they continue rise in popularity and spring out of nowhere by the masses.
What makes these shows so attractive to all these viewers? Maybe it’s the enjoyment of seeing a stranger’s life play out in front of your eyes, or the convince of always being able to tune in and watch whether or not one saw last week’s episode. The best way to find out why audiences of reality TV get so enthralled with the programming is to interview with a fan of reality television shows. A super fan of reality shows that I know of is my sister Desirae Duran she is twenty-two years old, a junior in college, and has been watching reality television for as long as she can remember. The first questioned asked to Desirae was why do you like reality programs? Desirae said what she enjoys about reality shows is how they involve little effort from the viewer, when she watches reality shows she can be texting or on the internet on the same time and still understand what is happening in the episode unlike when she watches shows like CSI or Game of Thrones that require her full attention.
I then asked Desirae if she thinks reality television has redeeming value in society. Her response to my question was rather surprising, she said that reality shows provide entertainment to people, that alone is enough for something to have redeeming value. Desirae then made a comparison to Game of Thrones and The Bachelor saying they both entertain her and fill her crave for good television. What my sister said about how entertainment is valuable is obvious and something I failed to realize and account for. I then asked Desirae a last question on why she thinks other people are so fascinated by reality TV and she gave me a short answer she said “people want what they can’t have and reality shows give them a taste of what they can’t have” This may be a key reason of why so many people enjoy watching shows about the rich and famous or maybe people just enjoy the entertainment aspect of the shows whatever it may be that attracts a viewers to reality television the networks have no problem with it.
It seems as if the only value that comes from reality television is the profit it provides television networks. One of the reasons why cable is flooded with reality programs is because they are so cheap for studios to make. If there is one thing television networks like ABC or NBC love more than a hit show it’s a hit show for the fraction of the price. In an article about the cost of reality television versus scripted television author Laura Jerpi of South University pulls information about reality programming from Scott Manville founder and president of TV Writers Vault in the article it states “An episode for a scripted series can be anywhere between a half-million and millions of dollars depending on the network and content involved,” in the article Manville also writes “budgets for reality shows can range from $100,000 to more than $500,000 per episode [depending on the network and content]”.
With the amount of money being saved per episode it is no wonder why television is infested with reality shows. The dramatic drop in production cost in reality shows is due to an array of reasons. Reality TV often consist of one to no production sets, mediocre writers, a less than satisfactory director probably fresh out of film school and actors that work for less than an employee at Starbucks. Because of the low cost that goes into producing a reality show and the high profitability rate networks don’t mind having a surplus of them. The Failure of a reality has far less risk than a failure of a Sit-com or prime time Drama because of the small cost and the large amount programs available so this lets studios and networks experiment with bizarre idea’s and unorthodox content.
Reality TV is often called “Trash TV” mainly because of the lack of values it provides to the general audience. Reality shows fill a viewer’s head up with garbage content. Now a days when one channel surfs the overwhelming wave is the reality wave, reality programs have seemed to have gone to the point of no return. Shows like Jersey Shore and Laguna Beach will continue to thrive as long as people tune in to be passive and not active. It seems as if there are not enough hours in the day for reality television. Television use to be informative and artistic now all of those types of programs are being taken out to make room for reality shows aka “Trash TV”. If entertainment is considered a valuable commodity then I guess opium is John D Rockefeller.
-Giancioppi, Sabrina. “Pros and Cons: Reality Television | The Concordian.” The Concordian RSS. N.p., 09 Oct. 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. . -Jerpi, Laura. “Reality TV – Low Cost Programming That Produces High Ratings.” Reality TV – Low Cost Programming That Produces High Ratings. South University, Jan. 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. Television shows
– “A Black & White affair” Laguna Beach. MTV. KBXV. Orange County. 28 Sep. 2004. Television -“A New Family” Jersey Shore. MTV.KBXV. New Jersey. 03 Dec. 2009. Television Interview
-Duran, Desirae. Personal interview. 2 December. 2013.
-Poniewozik, James. “Why I Watch Reality TV With My Kids.” Time 181.23 (2013): 54. Business Source Elite. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
-PATINO, ANTHONY, VELITCHKA D. KALTCHEVA, and MICHAEL F. SMITH. “The Appeal Of Reality Television For Teen And Pre-Teen Audiences.” Journal Of
Advertising Research 51.1 (2011): 288-297. Business Source Elite. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.