Reality television has become increasingly more popular and appears to be taking over the entertainment business. Psychologist Lawrence Rubin seems to think it all goes back to Aristotle, “The notion of being drawn to drama and tragedy”(Kinon, 2009). The viewer receives a false sense of “real life” and disconnects from their own “real life” by diving into someone else's. The effects these television shows have on society as a whole can be positive or negative depending on the message the show depicts. Shows such as “Jersey Shore”, “16 and Pregnant”, and “Dr. 90210” are a huge success to MTV but could be considered detrimental to society by painting distorted pictures of reality in the viewer’s mind. Shows including “Extreme Home Makeover”,“Undercover Boss”, and “American Idol” can be considered to have a positive affect on society. These programs report the positive stories of the average everyday person inspiring the viewer. These shows reward well-mannered people doing amazing things around their community rather than rewarding others on behavior that is unacceptable to everyday norms of our society. This paper is going to discuss the negative affects reality television programs bring to society as well as the positive affects. We will also discuss how marketers can use the high ratings of these reality shows to reach a larger audience of consumers.
It is safe to assume that there are both negative and positive aspects of reality television. Do the cons outweigh the pros or vice versa? In our opinion there is much more negativity in reality shows in modern day entertainment than there are positive reinforcements. Reality shows give viewers false sense of reality and unrealistic expectations. The stars of these shows give off the persona of a real person where the audience develops a connection seeming they can relate to the everyday person. People seem to think, feel and act like these characters they see on these programs which could be negative seeing that the viewer may develop perceptions that may lead to poor choices including but not limited to fighting, cussing, illicit drug use, unprotected intercourse, and binge drinking. Reality programs also make people expect more drama. Kurt Vonnegut describes media as a whole saying “people expect reality to be much more dramatic than is really is”. He explains that because of media we think our lives are supposed to be filled with dramatic ups and downs. When there isn’t any, people create it (Kinon, 2009). Shows that enhance the negativity in reality television and put unrealistic expectations in the viewers heads include “Jersey Shore”, “16 and Pregnant”, and “Dr. 90210”.
While MTV argues the reason for producing the hit series “16 and Pregnant” is to educate teens of the consequences and hardships of teen pregnancy, we are not so easily convinced. The show follows pregnant teenagers throughout their pregnancy and after delivery. As viewers sit back and watch the show, we see them struggle with their relationships, marriages, finances and most importantly receiving their degree. MTV tries to send the message of anti teen pregnancy on the surface but with the teen mom stars gracing the cover of magazines, signing modeling contracts, obtaining endorsements, and earning six figure incomes, speculations are being asked if the shows main purpose is for lessons or ratings? With these extra incentives added to being on “16 & Pregnant,” teens can receive the message in the opposite way such as believing if they get pregnant they’ll become famous on TV and get all these great things like the other teen moms do. Unfortunately, some teen moms aired weren’t a good role model at all. For example, Amber, was a ticking time bomb when it came to her relationship. She displayed a great deal of abusive language and physical actions toward her significant other, and it was all caught on camera. Also, she rarely was able to control her anger and loud voice...
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