I was spurred to write this post in response to blog posts by smit6600 and dingm052 both pertaining to reality television and its effects on viewers. Currently I am enrolled in a Cultural Studies class called "On TV" in which we investigate how television influences society and vice-versa as well as how meaning is created by shows, etc. One of the first things we've discussed is how, in fact, very little about TV is "real" anymore.
Smit6600 says that they don't believe their behaviors are affected by these shows because they don't 'idolize the characters or anything' they're just interested in the drama. This may be true for them but I'd argue that reality TV's impact on society is possibly more powerful (and perhaps more subliminal) than we first perceive. For example, think of all the Jersey Shore
Parties you've been invited to, the slang (DTF, smush, guido) that has become so popular from the show. Clearly we know The Jersey Shore
cast is wild and out-there and most of us would say we watch purely to enjoy their crazy antics but, I mean, there must be something in us that does actually admire something about them. Another extreme example comes from the influence of MTV's 16 and Pregnant
and Teen Mom
, shows that have unintentionally glamorized teen pregnancy when I'm sure their intention was to do just the opposite. Personally, I don't see the appeal but these shows combined with movies like Juno
may have been part of the encouragement for many "pregnancy pacts" throughout the nation.
Basically, I agree with dingm052 that reality TV isn't going to necessarily make you less intelligent, it's just likely to influence behaviors and possibly relate to some bad decisions made by college students and confused teens. Frankly, I believe that all television is pretty constructed- even news shows. Like on The Today Show
when the reporter wanted to make some flood look worse than it was but gets busted by two guys just casually walking in front of her canoe (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgm3_jzcNm4&feature=related).
One last thought on the subject- I know that the prevalence of some of my friends smoking is due to our love of the show Mad Men
in which there is hardly a scene where someone isn't lighting up. As stated by my friend Tyler, "Don Draper just makes smoking look so cool." Although Jon Hamm (the actor who plays Draper) has responded in an interview when asked if the cast smokes real cigarettes, "Some people do, but not to the extent that we smoke the fake ones or else we'd all be dead." Anyway, people just need to be mindful of what they're taking in when they watch TV but I'm not into any conspiracy theory like it will significantly change your life.