Reality television Essay Sample
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Reality television Essay Sample
Reality television is a contemporary example that relates to pop culture. This has become more and more popular over the last few decades. The phenomenon of reality t. v. reflects today’s pop culture mindset that one can achieve success, fame, beauty and money by simply becoming a reality star. On Dictionary. com, pop culture is defined as “cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people. ” Pop culture also encourages conformity and individualism which is exactly what reality t. v. aims to do.
While reality t. v. is popular in countries other than the United States, the American culture has come to greatly depend on the entertainment industry to form the viewers’ attitudes and beliefs. According to Nachbar and Lause, “Popular culture is a ‘Funhouse Mirror’ because it both reflects our ‘image’ back to us but also alters our image in the process of doing so” (7). Today, reality t. v. is very much a part of the funhouse effect as these shows reflect the current image portrayed by reality stars while altering American’s image of what is socially acceptable.
Since the use of technology is so commonplace in American households, people enjoy the instant gratification of following others, especially celebrities, on “reality” shows. For example, the Kardashians or those participating in shows such as Big Brother or The Bachelor portray themselves as real people who have real problems. While reality television is defined as programming where there is no script or actors that focuses in on realistic aspects in situations, the truth is that reality shows aren’t real. Television viewers enjoy watching reality celebrities in their “real lives” when actually most of these shows are scripted.
The funhouse mirror concept comes into play, since reality means that the world or the state of things are as they actually exist but these shows are far from that. Those on reality shows do have some type of script and act as the media directs them to do. Viewers seek out gratification when watching the lives of others and witnessing them failing and falling from grace in many instances. Television viewers are no longer satisfied with previously recorded series but want to relax at home while watching reality stars go through dramatic situations.
People get satisfaction in knowing that others’ lives are a mess and feed on the immediate feedback and reaction they see on these shows. The belief that it is acceptable for viewers to enjoy watching the downfall of others is reflective of our society’s current behavior. Reality shows also have altered the American image about what is now acceptable by society which is another part of the funhouse mirror. Many young people are influenced by and take cues from those they watch. There are many messages that pop culture sends viewers through reality television.
People have a tendency to want to fit in or follow what they know. When viewers see people on reality shows, they want to be like them. These actors are put on a pedestal and their values are something that should be admired. For instance, many reality shows such as The Real Housewives or Jersey Shore portray beautiful women and men as wealthy and famous who only deserve the best. Even the people most like ourselves such as those on Teen Mom, The Biggest Loser or The Amazing Race are now stars. People watching them are envious, and they begin to think that whatever the stars do is acceptable.
These reality stars are paid to act spiteful, selfish, greedy, and they have destructive behaviors and poor values. They play a role in how people perceive what is “normal” behavior and beliefs. Television portrays those who display degrading behaviors and who are vindictive as being accepted and even admired. Shows start to incorporate criminal behavior, greed, lies and many other negative behaviors just to become successful. The more drama that occurs, the more money that is made by the networks.
When these messages are sent out, people are exposed to this and will accept them as a societal norm and begin to act like the actors are portrayed. Everyone wants to be successful, and most fear failure which is why they enjoy reality shows so much. Almost all reality shows portray people as successful, and people will do whatever it takes to get to the top. Those reality stars who did not win the contract like those in America’s Next Top Model or who were the rejected ones in The Bachelorette or Top Chef still got their fifteen minutes of fame.
In conclusion, popular culture promotes the values and beliefs of those in our society. Reality television has made stars out of some people who, many times, act maliciously towards others. Those people drum up drama and humiliate others to appear more powerful or better than their competition. While most of us will never attain the wealth or fame of those on reality television, the societal belief is that is what we should strive towards. Reality t. v. shows convey messages about how we should achieve success that are unrealistic.
As Browne notes in Profiles of a Popular Culture, “Popular culture has nothing to do with popularity in the sense of number of people engaged in it. . . It also has nothing to do with quality, though at times we might wish it did (7). ” This concept is true in relation to reality t. v. As a viewer, one must step back and reflect on what reality shows truly encompass. Most would agree that reality shows are addictive, and people get caught up in the twists and turns occurring in the lives of others. Reality t. v.
is also entertaining, and the producers are getting the necessary ratings and making a great deal of money. Viewers must realize that the values portrayed on reality t. v. should not be accepted and are for entertainment only. One should sit back, relax and unwind in front of the television for an hour or two, while viewing the fun house mirror for what it is–entertainment. Browne states, “Popular culture is the lifestyle and lifeblood of groups-large or small-of people. ” Today, that lifeblood comes in the form of reality t. v. shows. Just tune into one of many local t. v. channels, and you’ll quickly see.