Real Verses Reality: An Analysis of Stereotypes in Reality Television
“Manipulation: to control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one's advantage” (thefreedictionary.com). This is what reality television manages to do to the world we live in today. Reality television in fact, is not always real. Many shows on television create a false sense of reality for their viewers. This influences people to think, act, and feel certain ways about others and the world around them. These reality television shows use stereotypes in many cases to continue to have an audience, and because people continue to watch these shows, these stereotypes are not only in television but they disseminate into society, too. Reality television does not only stereotype one subject, either. This analysis will help prove that reality television stereotypes gender, self image, and race. Many people might not really think these stereotypes are shown too often, and have an effect on them, but believe it or not, they do. Although viewers think reality television does not use stereotypes, based on many findings, stereotyping of gender, self image, and race does exist in reality television, and is done because these shows know viewers will continue to watch, which leads to influencing the way society thinks.
Gender is a huge stereotype in reality television. There are many reality television shows that portray women as stupid, catty, jealous, gold diggers, and easily manipulated. Jenifer L. Pozner discusses this topic in her book Reality Bites Back: the Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV. Chapter three of this book is titled “Bitches and Morons and Skanks, Oh My!: What Reality TV Teaches Us about Women” and the author goes into further detail of the stereotypes of women shown in reality television. Pozner provides her readers with examples from reality television shows, such as The Real Housewives of New Jersey, The Bachelor, Americas Next Top Model, The Hills, Flavor of Love, and many more to help prove the point that reality television stereotypes women. On shows like these women are shown getting in something called “catfights” often. These fights are over so many dumb things. Most of the time it is fighting over men. When viewers see things like this they begin to get the idea in their head that women are catty back stabbers. Pozner acknowledges the fact that “If millions of TV viewers believe that sisterhood is not powerful but spiteful, it becomes all that much harder for women to achieve any further social progress in America.” (Pozner 108). Her point is that women need not let these shows affect them in the real world.
Not only are women shown as backstabbers, but they are also shown as stupid. Just about everyone today has had to herd of the saying “dumb blonde.” This saying is influenced by reality television but not only for blondes, but for women in general. Pozner emphasizes on the fact that “Time and time again, we learn that the female half of the population is cringe-inducingly stupid.” (Pozner 108). She continues to say, “In embarrassing scenes across unscripted subgenre, women are portrayed as ‘the dumber sex’” (Pozner pg. 109). Pozner also provides a great example from the popular show Bridezilla that mostly women watch. It is a quote from the show that say’s “Thinking is a waste of time. Thinking is for people who have no brains” (Pozner 109). This is only one example, but it clearly proves that reality television is trying to get this idea into women’s heads and make woman look stupid.
Another example for the stereotypes of a “dumb blonde” and woman in reality television, are the shows The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and The Newlyweds with Jessica Simpson. All of these women are publicized doing and saying stupid things on the shows. For example, Jessica Simpson was not sure if Chicken of the Sea Tuna was tuna or chicken, which made her...
Cited: Poniewozik, James. "What 's Right With Reality TV." Time Vol. 175.7 (2010): 92-97
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