Culture and Prime Time Television
“Cultural studies is a critical approach that focuses attention on the role of the media as a principal means by which ideology is introduced and reinforced within contemporary culture. One of the central tenets of cultural studies is that the media promote the dominant ideology of a culture” (Silverblatt, 98). Primetime television, programming on television that airs between the hours of 7-10 p.m. central standard time, is one of the outlets that culture uses to deliver values; therefore, some of the shows that air on primetime television are a true reflection of dominant ideology/culture. Cultural studies and media literacy theories help to explain how this is evident in the messages delivered through many of the shows that air on primetime television. A few reality shows that reflect the dominant American culture/ideology are Keeping up with the Kardashians, America’s Next Top Model, and Run’s House.
Keeping up with the Kardashians is an American reality television show that airs on primetime television. It documents the lives of the Kardashians and the Jenners. The Kardashians include Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, and Robert. They are the children of the late Robert Kardashian. The Jenners include Bruce, Kylie, Kendall, and Kris. Bruce and Kris Jenner are the parents of this blended family. Keeping up with the Kardashians became a major hit from inception. The show offers its audience the opportunity to learn more about the Kardashians. The show reveals secrets about the family that the audience wouldn’t otherwise know. For instance, it allowed the audience to learn details about scandals that took place in some of the Kardashians’ lives before they became famous. In addition, the show offers its audience the opportunity to share the family’s rise to fame. While Kim Kardashian is the most popular person on the show, many of her siblings are beginning to share the spotlight as a result of being on the show. “The imposition of an ideology within a culture is referred to as hegemony. Critical theorists like Stuart Hall argue that the worldviews presented through the media do not merely reflect or reinforce culture but in fact
shape thinking by promoting the dominant ideology of a culture”(Silverblatt, 99). While keeping up with the Kardashians was more than likely created as a means of making money for both the producers and the family, the show probably has more of an effect on society than it believes that is does. On the current season of the show, Kourtney Kardashian is trying to get pregnant with her second child by Scott Disick, her first son’s father. Because Kourtney is famous and she and Scott are not married, the audience may begin to think that it is okay to have kids out of wedlock. This type of behavior seems to be becoming a dominant ideology. While this type of behavior occurs in our society, it was never accepted as freely as it is now. On another note, the shows does offer the conquer worldview where “striving for success is often portrayed as a test of personal resolve, requiring discipline, sacrifice, and commitment” (Silverblatt, 111). On Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kris, Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe work very hard to be successful. They are very disciplined, committed, and driven for success. They sacrifice having relationships and time with family to pursue their dreams. This is not a dominant ideology in our culture. While hard work, commitment, and discipline equal success in American culture, not too many people will sacrifice being away from their families, especially their husbands for success. Keeping up with the Kardashians can also be viewed as a contest worldview. This means that the show suggests through the characters’ actions that “success is a sport, in which people compete against one another” (Silverblatt, 111). On the most recent episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kim becomes...
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