Reality TV Bites

Haley Bunnell, Staff Writer

     In recent times, reality TV such as game and competition shows, self and home improvement shows, relationship shows, and celebrity shows, are influencing society and creating stereotypes to genders, social statuses, and races. Because of the mass media teenagers around, there are influencing factors, and pressures to be a certain a way.

     Today MTV, CBS, and other television networks produce programs that watchers are intrigued to view whether scripted or not. It is the exaggerated drama as well as the humiliation of others that make people sit in front of the TV and be taken with the status quo.

     “People who are uninformed will watch shows like Jersey Shore, and believe that all Italians are Guidos, or by watching The Real World, that young people can’t do anything while fighting even though reality shows aren’t ‘real’ at all,” senior John Conley said. “Even though reality shows are staged in order to show more drama, they help to portray negative stereotypes that people model their behavior after in real life, and find themselves repeating catchphrases said by characters in these shows.”

    Unlike The Real World and Jersey Shore, Next Top Model gives a different mix of feelings to watchers. Sometimes teenagers and young adults care too much about their social status and appearance in the eyes of others is what is important. 

     “Sometimes watching America’s Next Top Model makes women feel bad about themselves if they don’t look super beautiful all the time, and I know the host Tyra Banks always tries to get the message across that ‘you’re beautiful the way you are,’ but is the public aware that plus-size clothing in the modeling business now starts at a size seven?” junior Markie Danielle said. “I think that’s absolutely crazy, but as a result, some girls starve themselves to be that pretty which is taking what you see on that program to an extreme and unhealthy level.”

     Even game shows like Fear Factor influence others. Shows with activity and stunts demonstrate in order to be cool, being fearless is the way.

     “Fear Factor always made my brother want to try some really crazy stuff,” Danielle said. “One minute he wanted to fill a tank with a thousand live scorpions and sit in it to see if he’d get stung, and the next he wanted to dive off a ten story building into a massive garbage tank filled with foam to see if he could make it to the bottom uninjured, because that’s what he thought was cool. These television shows make people want to do stupid and dangerous things regarding their lives, unintentionally, I’m sure, but the producers of these shows also need to realize what kind of effects the content of the shows could have on their audience.”

     Not only does reality TV influence people, but it gives off a bad name to minority groups, and sometimes distorts their image.

     “I’d say small groups are just the people of certain races or nationalities that are picked to be on the reality shows,” Conley said. “Even though they only represent a small number of people, some people believe a lot of people in that race behave the way the characters do, even though it would realistically be a much smaller ratio. Since people like to see so much action on TV reality shows, only show negative aspects of small groups of much larger ones.”