You come home from work, drop your keys by the front door, take out the remote and flip the TV on. The first thing to appear on the screen in front of you is some new episode of Toddlers and Tiaras. You are a bit disgusted, but don’t think you’ll find anything else to watch so you leave it on. What happens here is the start of a small “virus” invading your mind; reality television starts to become a normal thing for you. You will begin to slowly realize, or maybe your peers will first, that perhaps you have started to look at the world a bit more differently. Reality television corrupts and changes not only the way we view the world, but also how we react to it (Reiss & Wiltz, 2004).
Reality television comes to us as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We as Americans get so caught up in our constant need for entertainment, and most of our entertainment “needs” are met in television. Of course, producers know this and take full advantage of the fact. They butter up story lines, create suspenseful sneak peeks for next week’s show, and throw in some hair-pulling violence in there just for fun. We, as consumers, take in and accept that these shows portray such things as normal. Are these things normal? Sure, if you’re two. Reality televisions tell us that it’s ok to be fake to your friends then turn your back on them just so you can be on top of the pyramid at Abby Lee’s. Reality shows tell us that cursing and throwing things and causing huge scenes in public places are ok, normal even. If you have such blurred lines regarding whether cursing your friend out on national television is alright or not, you can thank reality shows (Reiss & Wiltz, 2004).
Despite its name, reality television is in no way real. Yes, perhaps to a certain degree reality shows contain some truth, but good luck separating it from the piles of fluff surrounding it. As kids (and even as adults) we can all admit that we’ve had that “little white lie” incident. It’s just stretching the truth, it can’t hurt anybody, right? That is indeed a false fact. These white lies hide facts such as what Chloe’s mom from Dance Moms has said: ” The producers never show us when we are out, having a good time….they only show us when we are fighting and yelling at each other. All of us are best friends, and all friends fight.” Isn’t it sad? All we see is the action, the violence, and hardly ever the heart behind these shows; unless, of course, the producers leave room in the episode for a convenient quiet moment (Reiss & Wiltz, 2004).
Quite similar to how drugs make us addicted, reality shows pull us in and give us an unfulfilled craving. Once is never enough when it comes to the wonderful world of Hollywood. Television producers, I will have to say, are very clever in way they pull you into the episode and at the last second, bam! You have to find out next week if Tyra decides to put that bratty model into the Final Runway Show. We even become addicted to how these shows make us feel. I mean, who doesn’t feel better after realizing that your life is way, way more put together than the Kardashians. Or even who doesn’t get a confidence boost after making the realization that you haven’t made such terrible fashion faux pas that you end up on What Not to Wear. You feel good knowing that hey maybe life is crazy, but its not half as crazy as those people on television. Is this really a healthy craving? Reality t.v. has caused us as Americans to be addicted to making ourselves feel better at the expense of others (Reiss & Wiltz, 2004).
Sometimes instead of sitting down on your couch and flipping right to Honey Boo Boo, you just to need to read a good book. Television even in itself has caused us to be a coarse, insensitive people. Throwing tantrums are not ok, and being a middle aged woman does not make it any better. We as Americans need to take initiative and set good examples for the future generations to come by turning off the television and face the true reality
Reiss, Steven, and James Wiltz. “Why People Watch Reality TV.” Media Psychology . 6. (2004): 363-378. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. .