3 April 2014
Society is so addicted to reality television that it has become an issue. People are not aware of the dangers that reality television can inflict on the human mind and because of this people are becoming socially unproductive. According to Herskovits, ethnocentrism is “to view your own way of life superior to all others.” This explains the behavior and reactions of the reality stars, but what we don’t realize is that, one can be ethnocentric when they watch this and judge. Reality TV shows have also evolved over the years as more and more TV shows resort to sex and violence to capture their audiences. These shows reflect negatively upon our younger viewers and it is becoming a problem. Despite all these aspects, however, there are both positive and negative aspects of reality shows. Reality TV is television programs in which real people are continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining rather than informative. It's not realist because even though it isn't scripted the situations the actors are put into are usually very strange and the fact that they know are on television makes them censor themselves. When people watch reality TV, they tend to think that what they are seeing is a true depiction of reality. Because of that, they tend to believe that what they see in TV is how life really is. This is problematic because reality TV, of course, is not exactly just real life on camera. Instead, the shows are edited to make them more interesting and exciting. On the one hand, some people believe that reality shows are very enjoyable. Furthermore, it is sometimes argued that these programmes can be educative. For example, reality shows may make us more sympathetic, because we learn more about other people’s problems. Reality TV has made a large impact on contemporary popular culture in a short time. It had allowed viewers to travel to be places and experience diverse cultures. Unlike many television programs, reality TV allows viewers a chance to experience the drama and emotion of real individuals in real life situations. The future direction of reality TV may be difficult to guess, but one can be sure that reality TV "is here to stay" (Huff 11). Reality TV is popular with views because people watch and they get mixed feelings about different characters and they find it entertaining. People watch these TV shows and they are entertained but they also try and figure out what they would do in the situations that the characters are in. They want to be a part of other cultures and because other people talk about this show they want to be able to talk about it as well. One the other hand, other people think that reality shows are too sensational. Another reason for criticizing the shows is that they are not always enjoyable for the contestants. It is well known that some contestants have experienced unhappiness or even depression as a consequence of appearing on a reality show. Reality TV is it is often cruel, exposing the participants to gross humiliation for our amusement. This makes it the modern equivalent of going to laugh at the lunatics in Bedlam. The present row over racism on Big Brother shows how nasty it can be. It exploits the vulnerable, and has been condemned by the Mental Health Foundation for doing so. Reality TV is vulgar and shoddy. By creating pseudo-celebrities it contributes to the debasement of popular taste (Edwards). The drawbacks of reality TV shows are that some of the TV shows are not setting a good example to teenagers, the characters swear, drink, and under the influence of alcohol, the characters may behave in a more aggressive way. And some may think that channels should not be feeding that to the younger generation. It gives the contestants little privacy and it may cause them embarrassment. There are many different issues with reality TV shows. The characters or contestants may be annoyed by how the cameras follow them around everywhere because they get little to none privacy. They may not want to show them true selves because the entire population it is being shown in can see. For example, in Jersey shore, many of the characters have pushed the camera away from them, aggressively so that they can have some privacy. Richard Breyer states that “Reality TV has become omnipresent in American society, with some critics praising and others condemning the fairly recent genre. The problem with reality TV is that many viewed have become more interested in the participants of programs such as Survivor than the people around them. The television networks, however, are nonetheless happy that viewers have identified so closely with reality TV participants: have their roots in Candid Camera and America's Funniest Home Videos, but there is an important difference: Newer programs include more salacious material ( sex and violence) and often promote individual ruthlessness. But the "off-the-cuff" style of many reality TV programs, along with dramatic content, has attracted younger viewers to programs like For Love or Money and Big Brother. This success almost guarantees that the networks will continue to develop new reality programs, even though the price of reality-style programming may be reality itself." Reality TV also influences its watchers to not only live certain ways but also has an influence on clothing, language, body type and more. With all of the dating reality shows on air today, it creates very misleading views on not only how girls should look, act around guys and dating scene, obsessions over the way girls think they should look often lead to eating disorders in teenage girls. To conclude, although reality shows can be entertaining, they can also be cruel. After analyzing the ways of reality TV, one can see that it can in fact, reflect, define, and act as a cautionary tale to some of the values of the general American society. Being a viewer myself, I realize that it does in some ways reflect some of my values. I noticed that when I watch reality TV, I judge experiences of the reality TV stars and make judgments about them, however, referring back to Herskovits statement, “Judgments are based on experience, and experience is interpreted by each individual in terms of his own enculturation.” I have come to a conclusion that I really can’t make judgments on something that I haven’t experienced. I also figured that maybe reality TV played a small part of influencing a value of mine that is self-image. Reality TV is a cautionary tale for me, and others who watch it because, the more one involves and surrounds their selves with an environment, and the more it is likely that they can adapt or conform to the ways of that environment. However, what it all comes down to is free will. We have a choice on whether reality TV can have an effect on our well-being or not. Reality TV may have an effect on one’s values and well-beings, but we are the ones who can really decide what our values really are.
“Pros and Cons of Reality TV Shows.” The Week with the First Post 25 Oct. 2008: A3.
Huff, Richard M. Reality TV Has Some Positive Attributes. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004.
Breyer, Richard. Reality TV Has a Negative Influence on Society. Washington, D.C.:
Praeger, 2004. Print.
Herskovits J. Melville. “Cultural Relativism and Cultural Values.” New York: Random
House. (1972): 11-34. Print.