8, February 2011
Real vs. Reality TV
Television has become a “member” of almost every single family on our planet. And not just an ordinary member, but a very important one, because the time spent next to it exceeds the amount of time spent together with any other family member. You do not have to apply any efforts to talk or listen to complaints while “communicating” with it. You do not have to play with your little son after a hard working day. You are SO tired! Can anybody respect that? You can simply turn the TV on and everything is done. The kids are quiet, your significant other is not complaining. It is so simple that it has become an integral part of the culture of every family. It is the only time, when a person can forget about all the family troubles and the failures of the day. The sofa opposite the TV set has become the place of “reconciliation and spiritual unity” of the family. And what is it that we’re watching? Is it an educational or discovery channel? Although some might, the majority of the shows we consume are reality shows. But “what is reality television?” one might ask. Reality TV is defined by MSN Encarta as “television programs that present people in live, though often deliberately manufactured, situations and monitor their emotions and behavior.” Within this genre of television are subgenres such as Game or Elimination, Talent, Talk, Makeover, Documentary, and Spoofs. It was first introduced by Allen Flunt’s 1948 program Candid Camera. The show involved concealing cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, sometimes involving trick props, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed or a car with a hidden extra gas tank. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show's catch phrase, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera." The show became a top rated TV show in both network runs and syndication. Reality television enjoyed a renewed popularity in the 2000s with shows like American Idol that featured an interactive aspect, asking viewers to call in to vote for favorites. Today you cannot turn the television on without coming across reality television. The final ratings for the 2009-2010 television seasons show that reality TV lead the pack and bring up the rear end. It is everywhere and although it has spread in popularity there is often more negative remarks made against it than positive. Critics of reality TV often argue that the shows promote sex, drinking, violence and racism. Although reality TV may be fun to watch, it is very dangerous for teenagers who don’t have set morals and self-identities. Reality TV is questionable because of the messages some of the shows depict. While these messages can have an effect on everyone who views them, the audience that may be the most susceptible is teenagers. The most contested issues are whether reality TV is, in fact, "reality" and whether teenagers may develop perceptions from the reality shows that may lead to poor choices and negative consequences. In a 2004 issue of "Pediatrics," Rebecca L. Collins, senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corp., and her colleagues presented the results of a survey that measured the amount of sexual explicit television that teenagers watched and how much sexual experience the teenagers had had at a one-year follow up survey. They found that teenage exposure to sexual content on television shows increased the likelihood of initiating sexual acts and the effect of shows that depicted sexual behaviors and those that just discussed sex had the same effect on teenage audiences. Similarly, in a 2008 edition of "Pediatrics," Anita Chandra, a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corp., and her colleagues released the results of a survey conducted over a three-year period that measured teenagers' exposure to sexual content on television and any resulting first-hand experience with pregnancy. They found...