You might be wondering where my fascination with reality television stems from…then again, maybe you’re not, but I’m going to explain it anyway. It all began with The Real World, making its debut in NYC. I often wondered, “Is this really a show?” People really lived in a house? With seven strangers? To find out what happened when people stopped being polite and started getting real? (FYI ALERT: Tami Roman, from Basketball Wives, got her first break on The Real World ) From there, it crossed over into my collegiate years; I became obsessed with America’s Next Top Model. How could you NOT love seeing “everyday” girls get a chance to become a TOP MODEL? They went from bland to beautiful right in front of me (well, on TV)! With my interest at full-peek, I started to branch out into other shows like Laguna Beach where I could see rich white kids driving around in a Benz to HIGHSCHOOL! From that moment on, the madness crept into my life! The Bad Girls Club, Love and Hip-Hop, Basketball Wives, Real Housewives (all cities), Keeping up with the Kardashians, etc.
It got out of control! With violent shows like, The Bad Girls Club and Basketball Wives, I cringe and I feel so uneasy. I really do FEEL the tension through the television! It’s as if I support violence and bullying by watching another female on TV get jumped, slapped in the face, talked down to, called “bitch”, and most importantly being told that they aren’t “black enough”. I couldn’t decide if it was all reality shows that made me feel this way or a select few, so I did a mini experiment to help clarify (internally) what was going on with me. The first thing I did was cut back on reality TV and the second thing was to ask some family, friends, Facebook and Twitter what they thought. I mean afterall, I couldn’t be the only person feeling this way right? Check out what others had to say:
What is the first thing you think of when you see two grown women fighting on national television?
First and foremost, TV is entertainment and the degree to which we engulf in these reality shows is merely our need to be amused…I think it is humorous and entertaining. That is something that I probably shouldn’t admit to, but the reality is this: the women on these shows are adults. They are aware that their actions and words will be displayed for the world to see and judge. They are conscious of entertainment and what it is to “stay” on a show and even possibly (if they are wild and crazy enough) get their own tv shows. That, along with money and attention, are their goals… I have respect for women with greater goals. Acting is an art, being a drama queen is not… So…as long as there are women out there willing to embarrass themselves and show their face in any light for that check…I guess there are women like me who will watch….and be amused.
(1) As a man, what’s the main reason why you don’t indulge in such guilty pleasures? (2) What do you think of females that fight, especially on TV for the world to see?
1. Reality gives people a false sense of reality. Nothing protrayed on any reality TV show is the reality of the normal everyday person. False looks, false relationships, and other negative aspects of life are all that are protrayed on these trashy shows and it honestly is the downfall of positive productive thought. You cannot input such mindless garbage into your mind and not believe that it in some way does not effect your everyday thinking about life, love, or anything else for that matter.
2. Fighting, whether its for tv or not for anyone, is just not ok. Barring some sort of life threating experience to yourself or family; there is nothing anyone should be able to say to you that should make you use physical force to retailiate. Critical thinking is what separates us from animals and its only those who are mentally weak who find the need to physically attack another person. Everyone has had their weak moments where we have all slipped and got into a physical altercation, but as an adult no person should ever have the verbal capacity to make you come to blows because once you have thrown a punch you have already been mentally defeated and already have lost.
As a young professional and the head of a non-profit geared towards at-risk female teens, how do you think images on reality TV shape the minds of our young women and what damage do you think is being done (if any)?
I believe the images being portrayed on certain reality TV shows give young women a false sense of reality. The young women my organization works with are at a very impressionable age and unfortunately a lot of them have not made a clear distinction between their reality and reality TV…Which leads me to believe that in the wrong hands what’s portrayed on TV could be very detrimental to young women in our community…it’s not necessarily about what you watch, but about knowing the difference from someone else’s life versus your own. Putting emphasis on conflict resolution methods that teach young women how to handle the situations they see on TV, in their own lives. While being cognizant of the fact that every action has a reaction, so we clearly think through the decisions we make. Thus becoming accountable for the choices we decide to make as individuals. Essentially, just because you’ve seen it on TV doesn’t make it right.
How do you think reality television is hindering AND/OR helping our youth?
It always amazes me how quickly society forms an opinion of an ENTIRE group – race, age, genre or, in this case, television show…TV shows on Animal Planet, The History Channel, The Food Network, HGTV and many others are, in MY opinion, Reality TV…Unfortunately, however, once MTV served up an appetizer of “real” lies, deceit, sex and violence known as ‘The Real World,’ America’s appetite for drama and thirst for more grew beyond control…In the talk show age, for every Oprah there was a Jerry, for every Donohue there was a Maury The language, violence, sex and drama have a numbing effect that redefines what is the norm for our youth. As a teen, if we’re friends, the Kardashians have taught me the b-word is a pet name for my loved ones… Jersey Shore taught me that sex is no longer a sacred act reserved for someone I love but the new after-party activity with people whose name I can’t even remember… RHONJ taught me that if I don’t like you, it’s ok to run your name through the mud to whoever will listen… *Insert super star searching for love* taught me that moving in with someone I barely know will not only help me figure out whether he/she is “the one” but defined “the one” as whoever had the tiniest clothes and showed potential to give it up quicker than others…As a mother with a 5 year old daughter, this trash is NEVER on my child’s “TV dinner” menu because I believe there’s a maturity level required and I’m far too busy focusing on her learning tools…Bottomline: it’s up to the parents (not the television) to raise their child.
I posed the question on my Facebook and Twitter pages, “Do you think reality TV rots our brains?” and here are some of the responses I got back:
Yes, but it doesn’t mean im going to stop watching. Those real housewives crack me up haha ~Sapna
Not only does it rot brains, but it becomes the guideline for some peoples’ lives, they try to act, and look just like these reality stars ~Delonte
If someone has a brain they never watch reality shows. ~Charlie aka Dad
Yes I do…everyone wants fame because it’s so accessible,people should always strive for talent not fame.Be talented & fame will come! ~Lead Singer of The Electric Barbarellas
So, after hearing what others had to say, I’ve concluded that I’m not the only one who thinks about the damages that reality shows do to the brain, but I was also able to understand that uneasy feeling inside of me. I agree that not all shows are bad! I can see singers chasing their dreams on American Idol or chefs showing off their skills on Top Chef. I don’t have to watch bullies and violence and quite frankly I don’t think I should. What we put into our mind eventually comes out in our thoughts, words and actions! It’s safe to say that I am much more aware of the negative effects the “bad apples” can have on not only me, but society as well.
As you depart from the Dreamworld, check out what Shaunie, executive producer of Basketball Wives had to say regarding bullying on her show: