Reality Television and Racial Stereotypes: A Review of Literature Reality programs have dominated television networks since their rise in popularity began in the early 1990s with MTV’s The Real World. The reality genre quickly gained viewership as it redefined the formulaic set up of televisions shows from the past. Reality television has infiltrated television because networks prefer lower budgets for their programs that will also generate high ratings (Hasinoff, 2008). People watch reality shows because they are intrigued by the seemingly “real” drama with ordinary people as characters (Dubrofsky, 2006). Now at its peak of growth, reality television evokes ideas of social order and cultural norms to its audiences, while renewing racial stereotypes in modern society (Mendible, 2004).
In recent years there has been a surge in the popularity of reality television. Shows such as Teen Mom, The Jersey Shore, The Bachelor and Real World have dominated the broadcast airwaves. As these shows become increasingly popular; we must question their influence on the minds of our youth. The strong fascination that the young American culture has with reality television can negatively affect their lives by glorifying immoral behavior. In this research, I will use the combination method of qualitative and quantitative analysis to show how reality television is influencing our youth to accept immoral behavior.
The web page Fact Monster credits the beginning of reality TV as beginning around 2000 when a little reality game show called Who wants to be a Millionaire hit television screens. Millionaire saw the rebirth of game shows but also started the most popular television genre in years. Some say that MTV’s The Real World was the first popular reality based show, but until Millionaire there were no popular reality shows on networks or primetime. Fact Monster cites is CBS’ Survivor as the next show to that rose to TV stardom “boasting out-sized ratings, out-sized egos, out-sized personalities, and out-sized conflicts” where contestants are stranded on a desert island and kicked off one by one each week. As with anything that seems to get ratings, soon there were many knockoffs to follow.
N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. Cherry, Kendra. "What Is Permissive Parenting?"
Television does much more then entertains its viewers. Reality shows has given the American people a bad reputation. The reality shows that Americans watch every day are also shown all over the world. For example, shows like Jersey Shore, The Real House Wives, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Hunny Boo Boo, and Duck Dynasty is representing Americans. The rest of the world sees Americans as childish, aggressive, spoiled, rich, dumb, disgusting, or/and as red necks.
When Brittany Murphy died, when Lindsay Lohan was jailed, when Britney Spears shaved off her hair, the question was asked – what have we done to these kids? We all love rags to riches stories, but it seems that the people are almost as fond of riches to rags – or let’s say, stardom to failure. What happens when a successful young performer becomes a has-been star? The high-profile troubles of celebs like Michael Jackson and Gary Coleman reinforces the truth that nearly every kid who has worked in the entertainment industry has struggled as an adult. Although some may argue that several child stars have gone on to have stable and successful careers as adults, our contention here is that a lot of celebrities who were exposed to the limelight at a young age become scarred for life by their early success and fame and tend to compensate for the childhood they were deprived of during their later years in life.
Media producers all around the world have discovered that so called “Reality Television” programs are the key to maximising viewer bases and therefore profits. It is undisputed that Reality Television makes money. This has resulted in immense amounts of these programs being plastered across our screens. While these programs line the pockets of producers and companies, they are not necessarily beneficial to their audiences and the society we live in. Reality Television programs of today promote schadenfreude, which is “the joy or pleasure derived from the plight and misery of others”.