Fake is the New Real: Reality TV

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Fake is the New Real: Reality TV

Sohia Kimmel, Junior Staff Writer

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As a modern pacifying and sometimes hypnotizing force, television has been around for decades, with at least two-four sets easily found in billions of homes around the world.  What is it about this magnetizing force that really keeps us entertained? Well, most obvious is the fact that TV offers something that would appeal to every single person with one interest or another–all genres are available; however, one of the most popular TV genres in our society is “Reality TV”, in which “real people” are continuously filmed performing their supposedly common, everyday activities. This type of show is designed to be rather more entertaining than informative. For this reason, producers usually use any means necessary to capture the attention of their viewers.

Reality TV can be misleading, states Mia Faller in her online article on the artificiality of Reality TV. It is also both controversial and somewhat dangerous with some viewers accusing this genre of promoting stereotypes and normalizing violence, as well as being fake. It can also influence one’s view on politics and popular opinions.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians “is a well-known series that has been on-air since 2007. Featuring the Kardashian/Jenner clan, this bunch is frequently at odds with each other and continually instigating drama,”states an online source. Other shows similar to this are: Dance Moms, American Idol, Real Housewives, and Pawn Stars. Usually, this is the type of drama that attracts viewers. An average, day-to-day life doesn’t always have “enough” drama to film, which is why people often accuse these shows of being scripted or staged.

Certain shots and situations need to be set up in order to get the drama effect that producers want. They will script scenes, plant items, or even mix different clips together to make someone look good or bad. Some competitive reality shows, such as The Voice, X-Factor, American Idol, or America’s Got Talent, use heart-warming backstories to win over the audience, or they’ll allow people on the show for the sole purpose of embarrassing themselves, giving the audience something to laugh about.

“I love the drama of reality TV shows. I watch the different Real Housewives shows all the time. I figured a lot of it is just dramatized, but that doesn’t really matter to me. It keeps me entertained, and I find it fun to watch,” stated Sophomore Courtney Amrich after being asked about her views on Reality TV.  However, viewers like Sophomore Jeff Hazy have a slightly different opinion. “It’s just too unrealistic,” states Jeff. ”The only reason I’d watch it is to make fun of how fake it really is.”

When a survey was taken in a class of 23 sophomores, it was discovered that the most common favorite reality shows were Impractical Jokers, Jersey Shore, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Some of the students didn’t realize that some of their favorite shows were considered to be in the “reality” genre. “I love Impractical Jokers, but I had no idea it was a reality show. When I think of reality shows, I think of ‘drama’ and Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” Sophomore Kailah Gregory commented.  This survey also showed that many students don’t have a favorite reality TV series, not only because they might not like this type of television show, but some went as far to say they don’t generally watch TV at all. A lot of different forms of entertainment come from a simple cell phone. So if TV and reality shows aren’t a top choice of keeping teens busy, then who watches these shows?

Although these shows may seem to target young viewers, sources claim that 32% of adults 65+ years old enjoy this form of television. 26% of reality-fans aged 25-34 say they watch for the drama, while only 11% of fans aged 55+ watch for this reason. Other popular reasons included “It’s good background noise”, “It’s midless”, and that it “helps with staying informed about pop culture”.

All-in-all, the drama can be fun for some, but not everyone enjoys the concept of reality television, and in some cases, the examples presented can be a bad influence.  For instance, an online article from TIME magazine states that “such shows ‘make people think that fighting is a normal part of a romantic relationship’; 86% said they ‘often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting’; and 70% agreed that reality TV makes ‘people think it’s okay to treat others badly.’ “

With all the negatives, it might be good to reconsider what you as a viewer select when channel surfing for entertainment.  Just remember that strategic editing shapes action and spices up reality, proving once again that there is nothing real about reality TV.