Reality TV Essay

August 11, 2011
With everything from Survivor to American Idol, reality TV shows have been capturing the attention of not only the United States, but the rest of the world, as well. Some of them aren’t negative influences, but many are. There may possibly be some educational values in a few. Want to learn how to stab a best friend in the back? Watch Big Brother. How about how to raise a child in high school? Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant

are there. Reality TV has been around since 1950, but these shows just leaped in popularity in 2002, with the first season of American Idol, as well as Survivor. Shows such as Extreme Makeover and America’s Next Top Model encourage a perfect body image—if these people are real, normal people like the audiences, why shouldn’t they look these stars? Reality TV shows have impacted society negatively because they uphold bad morals, destroy relationships, and exploit their stars.

One reason reality TV shows have negatively impacted society is the way that these TV shows uphold bad morals. For example, on Jersey Shore/ Jerseylicious the stars saw how they get better ratings for cheating on their boyfriend or girlfriend, getting plastic surgery, and getting into fights and arguments with friends or enemies. In order to get better ratings, they’ll cheat, get implants, and get into fights more often. Another example of this is Teen Moms. A study has shown that there are many girls aged 13-18 with low self-esteems, who have thought about getting pregnant in order to get on TV. They thought that it would increase their popularity at school, and give them a chance at their own reality TV show. Though, many of the girls who did end up pregnant didn’t get on TV. The girls just got a kid, and the issues that come with raising a baby at a young age. On The Real Housewives of Orange County, the men and women who get everything are gorgeous, yes, though most of their body is made out of silicone and other plastics. They aren’t exactly the kindest folk, either. The women gossip about each other, and intentionally tell the other women’s boyfriends or husbands about what they had supposedly done. One of the biggest Reality TV icons at the time is Snooki. I’ve talked to girls who think of her as a good role model. But, if you look at Snooki, she’s impure, rude, all about outer beauty, and makes Italian-Americans (especially those living in New Jersey) look self-centered. If you showed Snooki to your parents, would they want you to end up like her? Once the Jersey Shore and Jerseylicious shows become outdated, what do you think the cast’s life is going to be like? Just look at what happened to the former stars of Teen Mom and other reality TV shows. Austin Cline, on About.com says:

“If a production companies creates a show with the explicit intention of trying to make money from the humiliation and suffering which they themselves create for unsuspecting people, then that seems to me to be immoral and unconscionable. I simply cannot think of any excuse for such actions - pointing out that others are willing to watch such events does not relieve them of the responsibility for having orchestrated the events and willed the reactions in the first place. The mere fact that they want others to experience humiliation, embarrassment, and/or suffering (and simply in order to increase earnings) is itself unethical; actually going forward with it is even worse. ”
Reality TV shows ruin relationships. It is not just one person saying this, it is actually happening. Teenagers see what someone’s girlfriend or boyfriend is like, and raise their standards on how they want him or her to be good looking, wealthy, and completely submissive. they expect something more out of the other person. When this “more” might make the other person in the relationship completely lose confidence in themselves, and become more self-conscious. They see what their boyfriend or girlfriend wants out of them, and strive for that. Maybe their partner never said anything? The person watching the reality TV shows saw what someone expected out of their boyfriend or girlfriend, and decided that theirs wanted the same thing with them. This may not only ruin the relationship between a couple, but families as well. When children are stuck on shows with their families, they may be pressured to act well behaved, or pressured into not behaving at all in order to get more views. Jon and Kate Plus 8 was a smashing hit. With all that time on TV, Jon cheated on Kate, and therefore they ended up getting a divorce. Just because the family is famous doesn’t mean a divorce isn’t hard on them like it would be with anyone else. Reality TV tells us that we all need to look a certain way in order to please someone. But God created us all to be diverse. He doesn’t want everyone to be exactly like J-Lo, as talented and good-looking she might be.(Luke 12:6-7)

Watching the news, seeing a celebrity feel under attack about a picture may seem uncalled for. It appears that man was overreacting over a picture of something that he shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Reality TV contestants or stars sign a contract that makes them agree to allowing anything that they do or say on camera can be put on TV. There is nothing to prevent some words they let slip from going out to the public. Returning to Jon and Kate Plus 8, how did the children feel about all those strange producers and creepy microphone guys around their house and other places they went? Child exploitation has been an issue with not only people on reality TV, but other child stars as well. Not only can these TV shows show any of the star’s actions, they can also leave out what they said/did before hand, making it look like he/she was doing something completely insane, when you weren’t. Once something’s on TV, no one can exactly permanently delete it. It’s out there forever, and if it’s on TV, there’s a high likelihood that it is also on the internet. From there, anyone can see it. This may prevent whoever the celebrity is from getting a certain job, or even get them into law trouble.

Reality TV shows set a new standard for what the “average” person should look like. It makes people really think about their body image; real celebrities are one thing, but if a whole bunch of girls on Teen Mom look like they should be on Teen Models, then why can the average person not look like that? What people don’t realize is on TV, the appearance of others can be altered by computers with the click of a mouse.(pamf.org/teen/life/bodyimage/media) Not only that, but beforehand they put on layers and layers of makeup, even if the viewer cannot tell it’s there(that means its working). The makeup that makes whoever look good is also a way of advertising the product.
That leads me to the next subject. With all the advertising on reality TV shows, people might as well be watching a half-an-hour long commercial. Those earrings the one girl keeps talking about looking great? Doesn’t it just make the persons targeted want to buy them? Most of these ads are targeted at teens, the audience that is viewing the shows. There is constant drug use in Jersey Shore especially, and it seems to happen without consequence. The stars have SO much fun while drunk, and then afterward the worse thing they get is a headache! How bad could it be? It could very much be worse. Do the viewers ever wonder about the effects that they don’t actually show them on TV? The bits and pieces they edit out? These people are darn lucky to still be so well. Their livers must hate them for all the alcohol use. But yet, watching the people’s popularity increase sort of makes us want to go out and buy these drinks and try it for ourselves.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not gives people fame for doing ridiculously outrageous things, whether it be piercing every piece of skin they have, or growing their nails out until they reach the floor. There are people who try getting into the book and on the show, only to find out that they don’t have long enough beards or enough piercings. What do many people do? Go out, get more piercings, grow their beard out longer, and see if they can get in again. Ever thought of all the health problems the girl with the freakishly long nails might have? How do others expect her to scratch her back when she might need to get stitches afterward? What about the man with the beard? It’s dragging all along the floor, picking up dust and other garbage…Disgusting!

Despite all these things, take a look at what people are saying about reality TV shows:
“I think that it’s really cool to watch people eat bugs, and other gross things!”
Male, 16
“The characters are real people; not just made up characters, and they’re really easy to relate to.”
Female, age 18
What do you think about reality TV? Do you want to be on a show? Don’t worry, 47% of teens who were asked said that they did as well. Do you want to look like one of the stars? You’re not alone with this either; 62% of the teens said so. How about wanting to be like one of the contestants? 42% of teens said yes(Reality TV, Suzanne Martins).

It’s good to remember that JUST because something is common, it really doesn’t make it okay. Not that it is not okay to want something like what was mentioned above, that is perfectly fine. Though, just because every other girl is going off and getting pregnant before they’re eighteen doesn’t mean it’s alright, and everyone can do the same thing. Reality TV makes it seem that way, as does other media. There are many “common” things that are considered okay, even though they aren’t truly okay at all.

After reading the facts above, I believe that reality TV shows are ruining society because they destroy relationships, exalt bad morals, and exploit their stars. There are many other places to read up on this. I’m just trying to persuade you to look at this, and what you think it’s doing to the world. The next time you decide to turn on the TV, what will YOU watch? What’s going to be absorbed into YOUR brain? It’s completely up to you, but take the previous to mind.





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