Saturday, November 05, 2011

down with pop culture

I've long hated reality television. I remember when Survivor started and all the drama that was shown in advertising clips--I found it distasteful and uncomfortable. I used to watch MTV's Road Rules (fun! adventures!) and Real World, back when they tried to force the people to have a job and do something. There were a few casting specials, and I remember that the producers were fairly transparent about choosing people who would make a good story (ie, stir the pot and cause scenes).

Now there are all these awful shows that venerate ridiculous yelling and drama, or even violence and bad behavior. Take this with a boulder of salt because I don't watch any of them, but when I see ads for Bad Girls' Club, the Real Housewives, Jersey Shore, those kind of shows, my lip curls in disgust. It's seriously gross what these shows do for the media, and don't do for humanity.

Today someone posted this article on Facebook: "Why Kim Kardashian's Divorce is Good for America and Women."

An excerpt:

So, what do these shows teach us? To start, that all a groom needs to qualify as “Prince Charming” is a fat wallet (why, hello there, “Joe Millionaire”). That “every girl” wants to—and can--become a “princess” bride, so long as she is skinny, vapid, and emotionally undemanding (the longest-running dating franchise, ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” set this template early). TV networks have collaborated with embedded advertisers to convince us that the only thing "real women" should aspire to is becoming “Mrs. Something” (as a former Miss USA contestant put it on “Who Wants to Marry My Dad"). And that ludicrously expensive weddings are the key to lifelong happiness, no matter what happens behind the scenes.

It’s tempting to laugh all this off as harmless fluff, but the impact is real. Dating shows in particular portray women as bitchy, catty and desperate. These shows also tend to exclude intellectual, professionally accomplished women--preferring contestants like a bubby 24-year-old on "The Bachelor," who promised she’d “make the best wife” because “I will be a servant to him.” According to a recent Girl Scouts survey of 1,100 girls, young women who regularly watch reality TV are more likely than non-viewers to “accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying” in their lives. They’re also significantly more likely to believe that “It’s in girls’ nature to be catty and competitive with one another,” that "It’s hard for me to trust other girls,” and that girls “have to compete for a guy’s attention.”

The article linked to this article about a new documentary that I want to see but also sounds really difficult to watch:

It makes me sad and angry that shows like this exist, that they have huge viewerships, franchises, and "fame." It seems like they multiply every year, and the producers manufacture more and more drama, and the American populace grows dumber and grosser every time they grin delightedly when watching shows about people being shitheads. People think they can be complete assholes and instigate all kinds of ridiculousness, while claiming "I'm just honest!" I hate all of it.

I do watch the Amazing Race, which is technically a reality show. And there is certainly an element of drama that they highlight as teams bicker or fight with each other or with other teams. And I hate those parts. They make me really unhappy and uncomfortable. Happily, most of the show revolves around interesting tasks in interesting places all around the globe, and I feel that overall, the show is about growth, personal strength, team unity, and endurance rather than showing off how mean people can be to each other.

I know it's stupid to get upset about something 'trivial' like television, but as that article points out, the effects on the viewers are real, and they are not good. I really want to find a way to just stop the stupidity.

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