Reality TV Segment by Chelsea Estes
The Reality TV Obsession
By Chelsea Estes
You take a break from studying for finals and decide to channel surf. It does not take long before you encounter a show where people are being challenged to swallow maggots, swim to the bottom of the ocean with weights on their hands and feet, or race against another team to see who can melt a block of ice first, using only body heat, for a chance to will $100,000. As you continue pushing the remote, you will come upon big, burly, men driving trucks across icy roads in Alaska, two people telling other people what to wear, and a pretty girl trying to choose her husband from a roomful of eligible bachelors. You will even find that Lauren, Audrina, Heidi, and Spencer from The Hills, have replaced America’s Sweethearts, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, and Monica. Reality T.V has taken the place of many traditional family sitcoms. What ever happened to Full House, Family Manners, or Boy Meets World? Instead, we find shows revolving around rich, teenager’s lives, what celebrity can find a new “BFF,” or who can throw the biggest sweet 16 bash. Welcome to the world of reality T.V! Now, the real question is, how did reality T.V become so popular, and why do people watch these “real” shows anyways?
Many people blame technology as a main reason as to why people are consumed with watching reality T.V shows. People are interested in the lives of others, and the internet, cell phones, and web cams make it easy to “spy” on, and watch what others are doing. Another explanation for the rise in popularity of reality T.V, lies in the fact that many people feel their own lives are boring, so they live them through the “real people” they see on T.V. Reality T.V shows also offer people the chance to observe these “celebrities,” to see if their own lives measure up to the ones they are watching. Some people are fascinated by the chance to compare and contrast how they would react to the given situation they are watching. There are even some people who say they like watching reality T.V so they can see others make fools of themselves. Who wouldn’t want to see some one fall flat on their face while running to the finish line?
Living in a million dollar home, being driven around in a limo by a personal chauffeur, and having special connections to get into the latest clubs, all describe some perks when it comes to being famous. Reality T.V allows for an everyday Joe Shome to have a shot at celebrity status and enjoy his or her fifteen minutes of fame. Reality T.V can lure anyone with the “chance of a lifetime,” to win one million dollars, have a restaurant of their very own, find true love, and become famous in the process. Fans of reality T.V shows like to know what is going on behind closed doors, and if there is any type of controversy with in the show, then that makes reality viewing even more intriguing.
With the success of reality TV, the definition of celebrity has changed as well. People are embracing the fact that the average Joe can be looked upon the same as main stream celebrities, and thus, people feel they have a shot at being famous one day too. Whatever the reasons for watching reality T.V, the trend in this type of T.V viewing does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The chance of extending celebrity status to the average person is just too addicting to turn down. Talented script writers are going to have to wait a while longer until Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer types are valued again, with their well- crafted story lines and memorable dialogue. Until that day becomes “reality” again, viewers are left with Tila Tequila and Paris Hilton for their T.V viewing choices.
The Influence of Reality TV
By Chelsea Estes
Reality T.V is more than just people trying to make a name for themselves, or trying to win millions of dollars by performing outrageous activities. Researchers have found that reality T.V has actually had an impact on many teenagers’ lives across America. Some may argue that reality shows even have had negative impact on teens and their behavior. Many fans of reality TV shows see the glamorous life of these “celebrities”, and yearn to have a life just like theirs. According to the Daily Sundial, the newspaper of California State University, reality TV shows have caused girls especially, to “grow up too fast.” A recent article discusses how girls in these shows are portraying a “sexy” role, and that rubs off on the young fans that are watching the shows. “Young girls are like sponges; they imitate what they see. If the media that is directed to them consists mainly of seductive oversexed teen girls, it is almost expected that they are going to imitate these images.” Young girls wearing too much make up, wearing revealing clothes, and acting older than they really are, are some side effects of watching reality TV. While walking around malls, or just simply observing people as they go on with their everyday lives, I have seen many young girls that try to dress and act older than they actually are. Girls who look to be in high school actually turn out to only be in eighth grade. The girls wear way too much make up, and dress in clothes that an 18 year old would wear. I tend to agree with the article stated above, as to how girls are growing up too fast. Girls look to the stars of reality TV shows to see what they are wearing and want to have what they see these so called “stars” are wearing. So if Lauren Conrad, star of the reality T.V show, The Hills, says that shoes made by Steve Madden are the next best thing, then shoe stores will be restocking their shelves to keep up with teens demand to be cool, just like Lauren.
Another issue that is related to reality TV and the effect it has on girls is the issue of teen pregnancy. According to an article written by Lindsey Tanner, “Groundbreaking research suggests that pregnancy rates are much higher among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behavior than among those who have tamer viewing tastes.” Many TV shows, such as Gossip Girl, 90210, Friends, Sex and the City, and That 70s Show, all have a lot of sexual content. The article also stated that the more the teens watched the programs, the higher risk of pregnancy was, as opposed to those teens who did not watch this type of programming. Regardless the fact whether TV shows have influenced teens when it comes to teen pregnancy or not, reality TV has clearly upped up the “sexy factor” in a great majority of popular teen shows, and has had a very influential role on the lives of American teenagers.
Reality TV and TV shows are also a popular issue when it comes to violence and its influence on teens and children. Many argue that the more violent shows children and teens watch, the more they are at risk of imitating those acts. According to an article found on the American Psychological Association website, three major effects that violence have on children, include the fact that children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, they may be more fearful of the world around them, and finally, children maybe more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others. Studies have even shown that mostly young boys, who watch violent shows, develop these symptoms later on in life. Reality TV sugar coats a lot of its material, believe it or not, but it still seems real enough to many teens. The reality TV show, Jack Ass, was a prime example. Participants in this show perform outrageous, and often violent, acts of stupidity, that were imitated by teen boys. Some acts that were performed on the show include, lighting oneself on fire, and even jumping off the roof of a hotel. That show had bad influence written all over it, but many found it humorous, and yet people still tried to imitate the stunts on their own.
Reality TV has become apart of American’s TV viewing patterns. It has truly become a cultural phenomenon, especially among teens. Unfortunally, many of the popular TV shows, aimed at teens, is having a negative influence on these young people’s behavior and lifestyle. Growing up too fast, increase in teen pregnancy, and increased acts of violence, can all be attributed to the reality TV viewing craze of teens. Perhaps a solution to this troubling trend, would be for TV programmers to offer reality TV shows that showcase teens acting in a positive way. However, the question then becomes, would American teens really watch this type of TV? I hope so, because growing up too fast and missing the fun of being a teen, is a part of life that cannot be regained. http://www.apa.org/pi/vio&tv.html