The Bachelor's Shameless Mockery of Reality
The Bachelors Shameless Mockery of Reality
Reality shows have become a great part of todays television. Their popularity brings TV channels millions of dollars every year. People tend to replace their own lives with reality TV shows, because the picture on TV seems more interesting, bright, and exciting to them than their everyday routine. However, the quality of reality TV shows often does not reflect the real life of the society. Many heroes of reality shows are actually actors who play the role of a regular citizen in order to make the audience more involved into the plot. Nevertheless, reality TV shows remain very popular among all groups of population. Current paper analyzes whether this tendency is good or bad relying on two articles about reality TV shows written by Michael Hirschorn and James Wolcott respectively.
First article I would like to discuss is The Case for Reality TV by Michael Hirschorn. In this article written for The Atlantic in May 2007, Hirschorn focuses on the place that reality TV shows have in the modern television landscape. The author points that popularity of reality shows is conditioned by the fact that most of them touch upon such hot topics as class, sex, race, etc. that are often avoided by the rest of the television world (Hirschorn, The Case for Reality TV). This is indeed a positive tendency, but from which perspective are these themes discussed in reality TV shows? Hirschorn says that reality TV shows present value system of the society that provokes controversial discussion itself. The value system presented in reality TV shows uses the most extreme pairings possible: lesbian mommies with bigots, godless cosmopolites with Bible thumpers, etc. Reality TV shows put people from completely different backgrounds together to see what will happen because such format brings more ratings and thus, more popularity to the show. By combining documentary with narrative character of the story-telling, reality TV shows get much more audience than two of these genres apart. It is true that through such format, certain social issues can attract more attention than by means of regular television communication. However, the question whether this format has positive or negative impact on the society still remains the open one.
The next article worth discussion is called Im a Culture Critic ... Get Me Out of Here! by James Wolcott. Unlike the previous author, Wolcott blames reality TV for ruining the genre of documentary and social values and praising the art of bad acting and antisocial behavior instead. Such claims may be harsh, but they are not groundless. Wolcott states that modern reality TV shows put stereotypes about certain groups of people ahead rather than present these people as they are. He also notes that common social value system has been seriously damaged by the outrageous philosophy of the reality TV. Wolcott says that the mega-dosage of reality programming has lowered the lowest common denominator to pre-literacy. This is a loud claim, but is it that far from reality?
Apart from bad influence on societys value system, reality TV shows destroy the genre of classic documentary. If one looks at footage of the popular reality TV shows, he/she can see that the real live action that can be counted as documentary takes a minimal percent of the shows time lapse. However, reality TV shows aspire to build a new documentary genre that could attract more audience through a specific format of the show. This desire may turn certain people against reality TV shows and their producers, as well as TV channels that present them.
Apart from this aspect, reality TV praises the bad acting. As it was mentioned before, reality TV shows often involve actors instead of real ordinary people. These actors often appear to be very unprofessional and ungifted. Despite the fact that most of the audience understands that people presented in the reality TV show are rather actors than regular people from the street, producing companies keep on hiring bad actors to play such roles as they hope that people will watch the show anyway. Unfortunately, the experience shows that this strategy works (Wolcott, Im a Culture Critic... Get me Out of Here!).
The most outrageous aspect of the reality TV today is that its popularity is built on scandalous events and moral and cultural corruption of the society. Most of the stories of the modern reality shows are based on the scandalous situations and questionable events. For instance, MTVs 16 and Pregnant often includes very controversial plot based on teenagers inexperience and irresponsibility (Lankford 131). However, there is an argument that such shows bring about such social issues as lack of awareness about consequences of the unprotected sex among teenagers and presents some ways out of the difficult situations that young people may face with. On the other hand, constancy of such stories on TV may play a detrimental role as well.
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For instance, a teenager with a lack of personal experience and a lot of questions in mind may turn to TV show for advice in case of difficult situation rather than to parents or teachers. In such case, a teenager can make a lot of mistakes, taking a picture that is shown on TV for the reflection of the real world.
I think that whether reality TV shows are good or bad the society cannot blame everything on their behalf anyway. First of all, it is societys responsibility to raise descent members by means of education and social and religious institutions and if this responsibility is fulfilled than such distractions as reality shows cannot impair this process.