How Reality Tv Has Influenced the Behaviors of People

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Table of Contents

  • “Is Reality TV Hurting Us?”
  • “What is reality TV’s influence on culture?”
  • Group Perspective Overview
  • “Reality TV Exploits Women, Minorities, and Children”

The Individual Perspective discusses the impact of reality television on individual people. Individual people refers to both the cast members that are in reality television shows and the viewers of reality television. The many influences that come from these shows and then impact the viewers and cast members are something that people believe is not realistic, but when looking at research shows to be more true than perceived. Individual viewers are seen to react in similar ways to what they see on reality TV from acting aggressively to dressing like a person they saw on TV. They may talk like them or do other things that mimic the way they conduct themselves on television as well. And these reality TV celebrities are affected collectively before, during, and after the filming. They will do whatever it takes to get on the show, then they change their personality during the show to impress the producers and get airtime, and finally after filming is over they are stuck trying to hang on to every last bit of fame they can get before it all fades away. These originally ordinary people become fame crazy temporary celebrities and because of it they make poor behaviors and become people they’re not. Both viewers and cast members of reality TV show to identify differently after being affected by reality TV.

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The writers in the Individual Perspective all share this common belief, that reality television has a strong effect at an individual level. They believe that reality TV causes individuals to change as a result of watching it or being a part of it. All writers had common arguments on how reality TV has a kind of “psychological effect” on the viewers. For example, they mention how aggression is enhanced while watching television and how people seem to try to mimic what they see on TV. Also different writers talk about how the producers of these shows are dependent on these originally ordinary people to be willing to have their lives played out in front of a camera and then altered. These celebrities change the way they act in hopes of grabbing more airtime.

The stronger points that the writers argue are about the psychological effects, the viewer’s celebration of the misfortune of others and the downward comparison, and reality TV making celebrities out of regular people and the effects on them. These points are very important in the argument of this group and are reiterated throughout the works in this perspective. They are argued in different ways and with different examples or research in each of the pieces so together they bring together a strong argument. A weakness that they have is that they touch on the topic about what goes on during filming reality television and give you a sense of what happens but it could be stronger if they went into more detail about just how much of an effect that has on the cast members of these reality television shows. All together these sources help argue a very convincing perspective.

Gibson, Bryan, et al. "Just 'Harmless Entertainment'? Effects Of Surveillance Reality TV On Physical Aggression." Psychology Of Popular Media Culture 5.1 (2016): 66-73. PsycINFO.

“Is Reality TV Hurting Us?”

In “Is Reality TV Hurting Us?” Parham discusses how reality TV is not as seemingly harmless as people assume, and how individual viewers are affected by what they see. The piece begins talking about producers skewing the viewer’s perceptions of reality, referring to how the produces edit and rearrange the order and other aspects of footage that they collect while filming reality television. This leaves the viewers under the impression that what they are seeing is real; the reactions, the argument, the breakup, whatever it is. Though truthfully, it may not have happened like that. These reality TV “celebrities” are acting in such way because they think it’s “a good thing to be the center of attention because you’ll be rewarded”. This also relates to the topic about the distortion of a person’s moral compass that reality television causes that Parham refers to. Watching this reality television allows the viewer’s to celebrate the misfortune of others to them feel better about themselves. Parham also talks about how it makes the viewer’s more aggressive. She talks about how research has shown that watching aggression on television can cause the viewers to become aroused by raising blood pressure, and then cause themselves to become more aggressive by a sort of “psychological effect”. Parham’s argument in her piece is that though the common belief is that reality TV is harmless and not something that has a strong influence on its viewers, that the reality of the matter is that it may have more of an impact than it’s viewers are aware of.

Parham’s piece is an article from a popular magazine, USA Today. Kate Parham is mainly a freelance food and travel writer for many publications, which is a little unsettling when then thinking about the authenticity of this article. Besides this fact, Parham does cite her sources and uses references in her piece and much of the information she provides is similar to the arguments made in other pieces also in this perspective, like Perritano’s “What is reality TV’s influence on culture?”. They both argue the impact on the individual’s specifically that are involved in reality tv, whether it be the cast in the show or the viewer’s watching the show. Parham’s piece was very well organized in the certain ways that reality TV is hurting us as viewers, which made it easy to follow along and understand and list the different ways.

Perritano, John. "What is reality TV's influence on culture?" How Stuff Works. 11 March 2011.

“What is reality TV’s influence on culture?”

In “What is reality TV’s influence on culture?” Perritano discusses the effects of reality television on our culture in both positive and negative aspects, and also gives special attention to how individuals involved are affected. He begins by initiating the topic of how reality television has “slithered into our culture”. By this he is referring to how viewer’s fascination with reality television seems to affect the way they talk, what they talk about, and even the way they dress. Perritano continues by talking about why some people watch reality television, and how some do so because it makes them feel superior in some way, while others watch because they want to see people get humiliated. This is an important point about individual viewer’s and learning something about their true intentions in watching reality television. Next he starts to focus on the cast displayed in these reality TV shows and how they “rely on the willingness of ordinary individuals to have their lives played out in front of a camera”. These reality TV stars are rewarded by the out of the ordinary and sometimes obscure things they are displayed doing on television. They are striving for airtime and fame and let that be their motivation to do anything it takes to be the center of attention, though what we see may not really be how these people conduct themselves in the real world. Perritano talks about the lives of these stars after the shows, and how they spend most of their time trying to hang on to the rush and fame of being a celebrity. He even refers to a study where about ten percent of British teenagers, motivated by money and success, admitted that they would give up the chance of having a good education if they could become a reality TV star. Perritano piece on the effects of reality television give the reader’s insight on just how much each individual involved in watching or the making of reality television is independently.

Perritano produces an evenly distributed argumentative piece by talking about both the good and bad of reality television. Though the more negative aspects of reality television seem to be referred to more in the piece, both are discussed. John Perritano is an award-winning author and journalist with a master’s degree in American History from Western Connecticut State University. His piece made many great points that helped form the argument of this perspective. It is like other pieces in this perspective by arguing similar things such as the distortion of people’s moral compass, and individual’s watching these shows to make them feel superior. This argument is also talked about in Parham’s piece, “Is Reality TV Hurting Us?”. Throughout the piece, Perritano uses many examples and cited sources of the impact reality television has had on our culture, making this source useful and strong.

Group Perspective Overview

The Group Perspective discusses the impact of reality television on groups of people. Groups of people refer to people that are categorized into groups by certain characteristics about them such as race, ethnicity, gender, etc. The grouping of these people on reality TV is proving more and more to be a serious issue when it comes to looking at how racism and sexism are issues in our society. Though we have come a long way in the issues of racism and sexism, it is clear that they are still major issues that are in everyday life. Reality television is setting back all the hard work of trying to squash these stereotypes that many people have fought for. Specifically people like minorities and women are targeted when it comes to this grouping of people. They are grouped and told or displayed in acting in such ways that follow the stereotypes that follow with their group, keeping the racist and sexist views of these people alive in the minds of the viewers exposed to these reality TV shows.

The writers in this group all had this common belief, that reality television has a strong effect at a group level. They believe that people are grouped together because of the fact that they share characteristics that are seen as subordinate to some. Two pieces both reference the use of “stock characters” which categorizes different women into groups based on common characters portrayed by women in reality TV. These characters display many of the stereotypical views that some people pin to women, giving viewers the illusion this is how these women are in real life and that these stereotypes are realistic. Different writers also reference many shows that display minorities in regards to being people who act out and have more confrontation and acting in such ways described as “ghetto” or “ignorant”. The multiple references to this pulls together a common theme throughout the different pieces.

The stronger points that these writers argue about racism, sexism, and reality TV’s ability to take America’s economic realities and skew them beyond recognition. These three points are argued throughout the many sources in this perspective. Another strong point that comes from this perspective is how there is no effort shown in fixing any of these issues, but that there needs to be some kind of plan for reform or there will never be any progress toward killing these stereotypes that continue to thrive in society. When the slight differences in the ways that these different writers argue these points come together, they make a solid argument about reality television's impact on specific groups of people.

Godwyll, Francis Ebenezer, and Collins Annin. "Perpetuation Of Racism And Sexism In The US." International Journal Of Diversity In Organisations, Communities & Nations 6.4 (2007): 41-49. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

Morgan, Michael. "Television And Adolescents' Sex Role Stereotypes: A Longitudinal Study." Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology 43.5 (1982): 947-955. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

“Reality TV Exploits Women, Minorities, and Children”

In “Reality TV Exploits Women, Minorities, and Children” Pozner discusses how reality television impacts people’s views and opinions on certain groups of people, specifically women, minorities, and children. She talks about how women in reality TV are categorized into different “stock characters” that cast women as a certain type that producers believe want to be seen by their viewers. Though these women may not behave in such a way when they are off of the screen, it is what they portray in front of the screen for wanted airtime and allowed privileges from the producers. Pozner continues in her piece to then talk about how minorities are wrongly displayed in reality television, and refers to the specific show “Flavor of Love” in which the Latina women were portrayed as “hos” and “ghetto” and ignorant. She criticizes how both racism and sexism played a large part in this reality television series. Her last thoughts in this piece go on to talk about how children are exploited in reality television, specifically in the show “Toddlers and Tiaras”. The issue with this show and others is that children cannot give consent to what the producers of these shows do to and with their images. Children cannot understand or even have a say in the matter, and it leaves them completely defenseless. Pozner’s overall argument in her piece is that reality television categorizes different groups of people into different stereotypes which then leads to a continuation of racism and sexism in culture today. There will never be a stop to this issue if reality television producers continue to allow this to be displayed in their shows, and viewers continue to watch and be affected by what they see.

This piece comes from an article that was written by a known media critic and journalist, Jennifer Pozner. Her other piece in this perspective argues some of the same points as this piece, but goes into much more depth as it is longer and is from her book specifically on reality television and all the impactful parts of it. This source was very useful in the way it described stock characters and gave many examples to give readers a view of what producers make of reality TV. The many examples and sources gave justification for her arguments and made it a very strong piece. She goes through the effects on three different groups of people and that argues the research question about the effects of reality TV on groups of people. The piece overall was helpful in a way that it gives you a brief yet understandable overview of how people on reality TV are grouped together into stereotypes.

In “Resisting Project Brainwash” Jennifer Pozner discusses the harsh realities of what goes on behind the scenes and in front of the screens of reality television, and how that affects people’s opinions on how they view things. Behind the scenes she talks about the casting process, editing of film, and skewing of realities beyond recognition that occur before the shows are even displayed to the public eye. These behind the scenes processes she gives insight on reveal the misleading reality that producers of these shows are sharing with the viewers, and how they then begin to affect the viewer’s beliefs. She then talks about how reality television is affecting the viewer’s watching the shows from their home television screens. She talks about a specific study conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1992 where they evaluated how The Cosby Show affected the political and social attitudes of 52 focus groups. The results showed that “viewer’s identification with characters and situations in the sitcom seemed to directly impact their opinions about people of color, and about public policies impacting race and class status in America”. Pozner then goes on to explain how if a sitcom in which people are aware of the fictional scripting can affect their views, then the impact from watching reality television where the viewers are under the influence that it is unscripted and real could have a much more drastic effect on their views and beliefs toward the information being exposed. Here she initiates the talk about how racism is displayed in reality television, and continues to go on to then talk about how sexism is also slipped into it. Pozner talks about how, specifically women, are distorted in reality television to appear in ways that producers and advertisers want them too. They exploit women for their appearance and then downgrade their mental abilities by making them seem less educated then they truly are because they believe that is what people want to see women displayed as. Overall, Pozner brings these ideas together to try to get people to realize how honestly unrealistic “reality” television is, and how these things like racism and sexism will never cease if producers continue to distort real reality.

Pozner’s use of bountiful examples and resources makes this piece very strong in its argument. This article was taken from a part of a book called “Reality Strikes Back” by Jennifer Pozner, a known journalist and media critic. The information in this journal was very useful for someone looking for research on how reality television and the media distort information and influence the opinions of their viewers. This is also true for other sources in this perspective such as the article, “Reality TV Exploits Women, Minorities, and Children”, that is also written by Pozner, which argues groups of people are linked together in stereotypes, specifically relating to racism and sexism. When looking for examples and proof of these happenings in reality television, Pozner’s piece is a great source to use because she gives many sources and explains their importance. She argues her views strongly throughout the piece, and though sometimes it seems to get a little over the top, she has a strong thought and argument to back it up. Pozner’s piece as a whole is a very concrete and informative piece on all reality TV has an influence on, how it influences others, and provides plenty of cited sources to make the journal reliable.

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