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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 20, 2024
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February 12, 2024

In defence of reality TV

It’s been a drastic takeover. American television has been taken over by the high demand for one of the newest and most current genres: reality television. What makes reality television so popular? Is it the low budget available for producers since they don’t have to hire professional staff? The entertainment value that it brings to weeknight prime time?

Some may say that reality television is a complete waste of time, but I have to disagree. As someone who likes to come home after a long day of work or school and watch an entertaining program, I am typically drawn more towards reality television. Reality television not only provides entertainment for its viewers, but does so in a way that mirrors what reality is like for some people. People become drawn to how others are living their lives, but what is most important is the platforms that reality television stars are given to promote themselves and issues that are important to them.  

Obviously, most reality television shows are scripted. Even I know that pure reality is quite often boring, and what makes for a great show is the drama or the mishaps that happen in each episode. First, let’s take a look at the show “Jersey Shore.” Sure, some people say that the cast members of this show are collectively brainless and have nothing to offer society because all they do is party and get drunk. But how is that different than most people in their mid to late twenties?

The only difference is that the cast of “Jersey Shore” is having their experiences televised. What really attracts the viewer are the story lines created throughout the show. Whether it’s Ronnie and Sammie breaking up for the fifth time, or Pauly D and Vinnie shoving pickles into their mouths and pretending to be Snooki, the drama continues to draw the audience in.

As is to be expected, not everyone is a fan. Like most shows, dedicated viewers will continue watching week to week. But what really amazes me is that we live in a society that loves to hate. People are constantly complaining that reality television is making people stupider, or as some might say, more stupid, but yet they find themselves drawn to focusing on hating the program. In high school, I had a friend who would watch “Dancing With The Stars” with me just to tell me how bad it was. Even though he didn’t like it, he was still watching it, which is the end goal for the networks and production companies: viewership.

The issue of viewership nicely connects with another important facet of reality television: competition. Who doesn’t like to watch a little friendly competition on television? Shows such as “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “The Amazing Race,” and “America’s Next Top Model” all help us indulge in our competitive side. The common theme in all these shows is that there’s a winner at the conclusion.

Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so, and that might come from the overly ambitious desire to become a famous celebrity that I’ve had since I was four years old.

Reality television creates a platform for other aspects of the entertainment industry. Take the wildly famous Kardashian/Jenner family. Most of the daughters in that family have held modeling contracts and/or have appeared in many media campaigns. The three oldest sisters, Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim are all the owners of Dash clothing stores, which sells merchandise with the Kardashian brand on it. They were able to create this brand through their television show, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” and the amount of people who adored them since day one.

MTV released an article in December of 2010, claiming that Kim Kardashian was the highest paid reality television star of the year. Unsurprisingly, the comments on the article were filled with vitriol-laden statements.

Other reality shows, such as the “Teen Mom” franchise, have endeavored to promote positive change for important issues facing our country, such as the teen pregnancy rate. People look at this show and ask why these girls are given their own television shows just because they got pregnant and had babies at a young age. Since the show’s premiere in 2009, the teen pregnancy rate in America dropped 22% from 2009-2012.

Reality television, even though it is often scripted to enhance entertainment value, allows viewers to see what life is like for other people who are just like them. Without the added scripted entertainment, true reality could get boring and it would take a lot longer to develop interesting story plots.

People can say whatever they want about reality television, but it draws you in. Hate it or love it, its large impact on society is undeniable.