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Reality Television’s Detrimental Affects

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Reality Television has become one of the most well-known and highly watched genres of television throughout the world. The website, Shocking Statistics reveals that more than 57% of all shows broadcasted on television have received the title of “Reality TV. This genre revolves around the idea of “unscripted” television allowing for casts members to do whatever they desire in front of the camera. While many of these shows provide entertainment or jobs to people, they also produce negative effects as well. Statistics have proven that of the 240,000 entertainment jobs in Los Angeles, 30,000 are tied to reality television (“Shocking Statistics”). Providing jobs may be a wonderful aspect, but having negative side effects that come with these productions almost always outweigh the positive. The problems that have risen from reality television have been affecting the cast and its viewers in detrimental ways. It has been said that there are more than five violent scenes in an hour of prime time television (“Shocking Statistics”). This is an outrageous number to be associated with something that is supposed to be entertainment.

Although, cast members in reality television portray violence, they also may endure physical and mental abuse such as, depression, weight problems, paranoia and more. Not only does Reality TV negatively affect cast members through addictions to fame, judgments and lies, but it also effects viewers through negative role models. Reality Television originated in the form of broadcast radio. Television replaced radio in popularity in sometime in 1948. Although the beginning of reality television is not known one of the earliest reality TV series was called “Candid Camera”. Many others followed after like “Truth or Consequence”, a show that hid secret cameras in 1950; “American Family” which was the beginning of following families around in 1973 and finally the most popular and well known in 1992, “The Real World”. All of these shows involved cameras following them around in their daily lives (“Reality TV”). With all of these shows, came the diverse themes that were enacted in each show. The characters of these shows were to go about in their daily lives but often certain situation presented themselves to not be so positive.

Themes of romance, sex, drugs/alcohol, addiction, sexuality, violence, illness, weight, prejudice, politics and religion often arose making these shows much more adhering or popular for the public to view. These themes not only have made for good, entertaining television, but have affected the lives of those who watch, and the lives of those who are apart of the show. The themes that are presented in these shows can often be very strong or detrimental to the lives of those who live with these problems. Many people have not only had problems during the shows where they suffered from various issues but also suffered in the aftermath of the show airing. Various examples have been shown that people reveal so many personal things on television that many people will judge them for. Since almost the whole world can see these shows on television, the judgment against these people may get so negative that the person themselves cannot handle it. Television of the 20th century has evolved into more serious or entertaining reality television shows that receive far higher ratings than most other ordinary shows and has also sprung the idea of competitive reality television shows.

Producers have embarked on the idea to make shows were there is an incentive or a large reward entitled to the winner of a certain competition. Some of the first few to be introduced were “Survivor”, “Fear Factor”, “American Idol”, “America’s Next Top Model”, “Biggest Loser” and more. With these new shows, the modern day reality television shows also continued airing bringing in “Jersey shore”, “16 and pregnant”, the Kardashian shows, and the Housewives shows and still airing season after season, the “Real World” and “Cops” (originating from a radio broadcasting called “Nightwatch”) (“Reality TV”). Not only has the 20th century brought in new reality shows and sub genres, but it has also introduced new ways of thinking and more evolved technologies. These things have done many wonderful things to help our world succeed, but they have also put many more people at risk to dangers. This new century has brought the obsession or addiction to being famous, beautiful, and wealthy. With all of these new reality shows these ideas have become much more evident and severe in its cast members and also towards it viewers.

Cast members tend to deal more with the addiction of being famous and receiving all the glamour while its viewers suffer more from the “I want to be just like him/her”. Having a role model is usually a good thing, but sometimes, having a negative one can inflict bad decisions and morals (“Exploits Fame Seekers”). Many of these shows continue to premiere new seasons year after year, allowing for its cast members to the same. After several seasons members are gaining all of the perks of becoming famous such as, earning a large salary, gaining a fan base, and receiving the constant attention of the paparazzi and the world. When people first join on these shows they so desperately seek to be famous and to gain these perks. People often do not realize that with a fan base you will gain the ordinary, positive fans, but also the negative, hater fans. A very popular saying that people must consider is “not everyone is going to love you”. When people evaluate themselves they think, “People aren’t going to hate me, I’ll be fine”. People avoid considering that there may be any negative aspect in being famous because they become so obsessed with wanting to be on TV.

They find that the bigger picture or the thing they want to fulfill first is being on television prior to reviewing the consequences that may come with being on these shows. In the wrap investigation a psychologist stated that, “the obsession to be on TV is like the obsession to use drugs and alcohol” (“Enduring Trauma”). Once these contestants or cast members realizes the consequences or negative aspects that come with being on television there is no turning back. After these people become exposed to this glamorous lifestyle they realize they will never be satisfied with anything less. It becomes an addiction to endure the pain of criticism and judgment from onlookers rather than to give away the glorious life of a rich and famous person. An addiction has been defined as a state of being enslaved to a habit or practice to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma (“Addiction”).

Often when people refuse to seek help and keep living their daily life as if nothing is wrong, things just continue to get out of hand. Similar to alcoholics and drug addicts, those addicted to being on TV can endure in the same negative consequences. Due to all the stress of constantly being judged by the people around them they may turn toward certain ways of coping. Some might uses substances, or violence and others may alter their emotions severely by becoming angry or depressed. It is very unknown what a person might do in response to coping with this addiction. Although there are many degrees of how affected a person might get, it is often hard to understand what level they are at. It is easy to classify that once a person gets to the point where they are harming themselves mentally and physically they have already attained an addiction. When this addiction reaches large heights there are more dangerous factors that come in to play. There have been various examples of people who have suffered immensely that they choose to harm themselves so drastically that they reach near death experiences.

As MTV has become the number one network to produce reality television shows, it has also become the network with the most highly watched and reviewed shows. Since many of these reviews have been negative judgments it has been affecting the lives of those on these shows. There have been many stars who have developed addiction to being on television without the actual realization or title. Currently, the most highly rated television series for teenagers has become the show “Teen Mom”. This show outlines the lives of young girls who have become pregnant at an early age. This series has been airing for about three years now and from it we have seen no improvement towards the lives of any of these girls. These girls are even given money in order to be on these shows and to try and make their lives better but they consistently fall astray. The most popular and highest paid contestant over the past three years has been 21 year old, Amber Portwood bringing in $280,000 a year (“Teen Mom”)

While her season premiered several years ago she is still suffering with the issues that arose during filming. Amber was judged so highly for being a terrible mother and girl friend. She was shown as a constant partier, for abusing her husband physically and verbally, and for constantly neglecting her daughter. She became one of the most well known reality stars in the media but yet still searches to receive more attention from the media in order to be noticed and receive more money. Previous media tabloids have shown photos of her partying, in court due to her ex-boyfriend taking her child away, and the most recent, being hospitalized after a suicide attempt. Amber has allowed her addiction to get so bad she has tried to end her life.

Sources have revealed that she said she was upset and was going to kill herself. In this situation when her ex-boyfriend attempted to call her no one would pick up and reluctantly he went over to her home and found the mother of his daughter on the couch slightly conscious. From there she was quickly transported off to the hospital when she revealed to her ex-boyfriend, “It was the best feeling. I love the way it made me feel. It was euphoric”( Glinow). Amber has become so obsessed with the glamour of being famous she has resulted to such negative effects putting her life and her daughter’s life at risk.

While there are those who suffer from the addictive aspects of stardom there are also those that are able to stay away from the glorious perks of being famous. Usually people join reality television shows in order to gain some sort of stardom but who is to say that there are not those few who join in order to have fun and live out a new experience. These people might not endure in the addictive aspects of being on television but they can still endure some sort of harm. Since reality television is broadcasted to the entire nation there will always be many critics. Many people might say that it is their choice whether to listen to what people say or not, but the realization that people must make is that it is nearly impossible not to notice some of it. Criticism that appears after shows have aired appears everywhere, from online blogs, Facebook pages, magazine articles, television news, to paparazzi taking photos everywhere they may go. It will hit them in the face at some point. Those few people that join shows in the hopes of having fun and experience new things should come to realize there will be some sort of stardom following whether it be negative or positive.

As these shows go through filming the personalities and actions of the cast will be shown to the world. Without the involvement of the editing mechanics of these productions, the personalities and actions of these characters will constantly be misjudged. Even if the nicest person in the world were on one of these shows they would still receive some sort of criticism because critics will never fully understand a situation in which they were not physically present. No matter what situation someone might be in certain criticisms and judgments are hurtful. The critiques towards complete strangers on television can even be much more severe than the average persons. After the airing of these shows people have explained that the amounts of criticism they received was indescribable. They have related that they do not want to let it affect, them but at some point there is no avoiding it. In most cases, critics and the people who decide to join these shows are at fault for the problems that arise with reality television stars, but sometimes it is also the fault of producers, directors and writers who make up these shows.

A large argument that has been in effect since the beginning of reality television is whether reality TV is scripted or not. While most will argue and say yes it is scripted, the definite answer has never been release. In the Washington Post, an article that speaks of the illusion created in reality TV it states that although some shows might not be 100% scripted Jokes are pre-made for hosts, arguments for judges, and plot points and narratives are pre developed. The writer explains that they cannot feed cast members specific lines but can guide them in a certain direction (Booth). Many reality television members sign up for shows in order to be on “reality” television, but when they arrive they realize they will be pushed into situations in order to make something more entertaining.

There must be a limit as to how far producers can alter reality. Not only does “partial scripting” cause for unrealistic personas of people but so does the alterations that occur from the editing tricks that are used in scenes. Often clips from previous days or times are used in order to make certain situations come across as much worse then they really are (Booth). From these impartial lies and scripted scenes the public will almost always believe what they see. The public has become so ignorant that they do not realize the lies that are placed before them. The problem with these lies is that “the personas of these characters on the show extend to real life” (“Enduring Trauma”). People will never second guess what they see on television and will always judge right away causing for a negative reaction from cast members.

Katie Gold, a contestant on the first season of survivor experience first hand what the public can do to tarnish the reputation you may have built up on the show you signed onto. On the Wrap, a website covering Hollywood TV, Katie claims to have received continuous hate mail, stating, “You are a disgrace, you disgust us ”. Due to these letters, the investigation stated that she suffered various years of depression and underwent serious trust and abandonment issues. The only ways she was able to heal these problems was through numerous years of psychotherapy. Kate Gold is an example of a woman who suffered deeply from the reactions of viewers due to her appearance on a show (“Enduring Trauma”).

Another well known reality star is a man named Evan Marriot also known as the famous “Joe Millionaire” for being the prize contestant on a dating show. In CNN’s cover stories, a woman named Lisa Lespers found out what really went on in his journey to stardom. He explained that he went through very serious paranoia and depression because he was constantly being looked at under a microscope. He goes on to say that it was one of the top five most amazing things that has ever happened to him. He notes that fame can be a good thing in order to make money and to get your name out there but almost always there will be consequence later. Joe Millionaire said, “his brush with reality TV fame had hardly been a bed of roses after the cameras stop rolling”. Everything can seem great while the cameras are rolling because one is not exposed to the outside world as much. It is not until after the show airs that everything can begin to unwind it self. Joe Millionaire was judged as a man who lied and broke the hearts of many women but realistically he may never have really been that kind of man, he may have just simply wanted to find love (France).

As reality television has affected cast members it has also been affecting its viewers as well. The number of people who constantly tune in to watch these shows has been growing by the numbers. Reality television statistics have said that American’s spend 1/3 of their free time watching television and of that 67% are reality shows (“Shocking Statistics”). People enjoy watching reality television because it makes them feel as if they can become like these people they are watching. Many people feel that they need to look, act, and speak just like these people in order to become something great. Due to what people see on the screen they often change themselves in order feel better about how others perceive them. According to Medical Procedure News, reality television is attributing to cosmetic surgery procedures with more than 9.2 million procedures performed as result of people watching these shows. Cosmetic surgery has become very popular in the Hollywood industry and now that the viewers at home are seeing how beautiful a person can look they feel they must do the same.

These reality stars are exposing viewers to these long lasting and not to mention expensive procedures (“Shocking Statistics”) While the need to look, feel, and act glamorous or famous has begun to affect many generations, it has especially been hurting the younger ones. Since the large boom of reality television in 2000, eating disorders have tripled among girls ranging in ages 13-19. Reality Television tends to adhere to the younger generations, usually the teens, which enacts them to often glorify superficial characteristics such as physical beauty over spiritual strength thus setting a poor example (“Exploits Fame Seekers”). WebMD Medical News, a highly known source, has also revealed that reality television is contributing to eating disorders in teen girls. They have said that with shows like “Are You Hot?”, “The Search for America’s Sexiest People” and “Extreme Make Over”, young women believe that to be excepted you have to be “hot” or a “bombshell” (“Shocking Statistics”)

The most devastating problem that has evolved from reality television has become pregnancies. Almost every show now releases information, content and videos regarding sex. Sex has become the number one way of receiving attention and providing entertainment to the public. Reality Television constantly publicizes sex to its viewers making viewers believe “this is what everyone does, so it must be normal”. Producers and directors of this form of media allow this message to get out without even realizing the problems they are introducing. Introducing a new life into this world is always a beautiful and wonderful thing but when they are given life for the wrong reasons there can be severe problems.

Often people do not take the correct precautions and they enable a life to be born. This in turn results in unwanted pregnancies causing for adoption, abortion and or those who decide to keep the child. As was prior stated, a new popular show that has began called “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant” deals with teenagers who become pregnant and have to undergo the difficulties of dealing with a child. This program has had negative consequences towards its cast members but has also been giving negative messages towards its viewers. Since this show has aired it has proposed the belief to younger generations that it is okay to be pregnant at such a young age. By watching reality television viewers have been misguided by the entertainment that arises and have attained the message that they must do whatever it takes to be like the stars they are watching.

Reality Television has served as a valid source of entertainment for many people. It is difficult to say that something so fun and entertaining can be so harmful. This genre of television has effected the lives of many cast members and many viewers throughout the years. The problems that have risen have left our society with very minimal solutions that have been proven to be difficult to resolve.

Work Cited

“Addiction | Define Addiction at Dictionary.com.” Dictionary.com | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Dictionary.com. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addiction>. Booth, William. “Reality Is Only An Illusion, Writers Say (washingtonpost.com).” Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53032-2004Aug9.html>. France, Lisa Respers. “Cover Story: Reality Bites after the Lights Go out – CNN.com.” CNN.com – Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/TV/02/01/life.after.reality.tv/index.html>. Glinow, Kiki V. “Report: Amber Portwood Calls Suicide Attempt ‘Euphoric, Wonderful'” Huffington Post. 16 June 2011. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.popeater.com/2011/06/16/amber-portwood-suicide-attempt-threat-explained/>. “Reality TV Reality TV Exploits Fame Seekers.” ENotes – Literature Study Guides, Lesson Plans, and More. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.enotes.com/reality-tv-article/reality-tv-exploits-fame-seekers> “Reality TV Stars Often Suffer Enduring Trauma | TheWrap TV.” TheWrap.com | Entertainment Industry Analysis, Breaking Hollywood News. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.thewrap.com/tv/article/reality-tv-stars-often-suffer-enduring-trauma-3432>. “Reality TV – TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1842705,00.html>. “Shocking Statistics « Reality Television: Creating a World Where No One Is Real.” Reality Television: Creating a World Where No One Is Real. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://anhoward.wordpress.com/the-effect-reality-tv-is-having-on-us-shocking-statistics/>. “‘Teen Mom 2′ Jenelle Evans & Kailyn Lowry Paid Less Than Amber Portwood! Exclusive!” Hollybaby. 16 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Dec.

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