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Mystery of Finding Reality in Reality Television

Updated May 19, 2021
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Mystery of Finding Reality in Reality Television essay

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“OMG! Did Kylie Jenner’s lips get bigger?” “Are those real housewives of any city fighting again?” “When are they going to choose who won the singing show?” Surprisingly, these typical questions occasionally come from my eight-year-old cousin’s mouth, and, for her to be so aware of such, it is a shock to the whole family.

Moreover, the enticing attitude my little cousin has for these shows is more recurrent among people than just herself. Nowadays, many adults and their families watch these reality shows and tend to wish for the lifestyles of the people displayed on television, more specially: reality television. The people who put themselves out there for the world to see on the big screen either put off a luxurious, appalling, or intense lifestyle that the audience want to obtain or gain knowledge from.

Certain shows like Keeping Up with The Kardashians or The Real Housewives of New York (or any of them for that matter), seem to appeal to many people trying to find a reality through the celebrities who are living on their televisions. This is common and should not be growing quickly, for many viewers have begun to treat the actions from these programs as an authentic way of life. Reality television negatively affects people because it pulls their audience to mirror the celebrities by changing their lifestyles, beliefs, and perspectives on life.

Reality television is a pillar of media broadcasted for everyone to see and to absorb how others are living. However, there are many mysterious attributes that may question a viewer’s perception on this type of television; thus, this affects their lifestyles. Shruti Pillai states in her ScoopWhoop article, “12 Shocking Facts About Reality TV Shows the Makers Don’t Want You to Know,” that the beloved shows, which people are so enticed with, are repeatedly watched over the years.

For example, a hit reality show from the early 2000s, The Survivor, has some aspects that are not what the audience perceive to be true (Pillai). She says, “Producers have had body doubles of contestants re-stage challenges for cameras to capture better footage for the show” (Pillai). The ones who control the behind-the-scenes portion of the programs are actually controlling what the viewers regard today. The negative outcomes from this type of regulation does not affect the viewer because not many are aware of it.

Although, the viewers who continue to watch these shows, according to author for OnePoll, Claire Tiley, are “50% of young adults” from ages “25-34s,” and these are the impressionable ages where they may be still looking for excitement from their televisions. Many people may take this form of media and grasp every detail it has to offer. This type of television, however, is a catalyst for the viewers to change their lifestyles and begin to alter their lives into what is showing on their silver screens.

Most people are aware of the worldwide reality show, Keeping Up with The Kardashians, and tend to apply what the famous Armenian-American family believes to their own beliefs. Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner siblings, for example, is a multi-millionaire and entrepreneur for her own make-up brand; however, her fame seemed to rise just when many had noticed her suddenly bigger lips.

In the famous show, The Ellen Show, the host, Ellen DeGeneres, interviews Jenner about the sudden change in her appearance and how she got “temporary lip fillers” (Show). DeGeneres asks Jenner if she felt it is was necessary to have her lips plumped, and Jenner answers by saying, “No, I didn’t really feel like I needed to do that. It was just a huge insecurity of mine” (Show).

The ones noticing this aspect were enchanted with her new appearance and became fully endorsed in what she did and said, especially on social media. As a result of her make up business becoming successful, some of her fans began to do things like her. The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, for instance, is when “teens are putting their lips into a shot glass and sucking in as hard as they can to create a vacuum effect” (Wierks). The people following these actions tend to believe that altering their faces to look like Jenner to make them happier, but that is not the message they should be obtaining from this.

There were dangers with this challenge according to Kylee Wierks, a news reporter for FOX59, who quoted dermatologist, Beth Brogan, by saying, “‘What happens is the blood vessels can break so that can be a permanent break with permanent bruising and scarring permanent swelling of the lips. But also temporarily can cause really unsightly bruising around the lips,’” People’s beliefs are not just altered by Kylie Jenner. There are many reality television figures that should not shift the minds of their viewers to believe that the actions they do are acceptable and are what they should believe as well.

Many issues with alcohol abuse and consequences are also these types of shows. Correspondingly, authors, Joshua Fogel and Alexander Shlivko, quoted Blair, N. A., Yue, K. S., Singh, R., and Bernhardt, J. M. by stating, “With regard to reality TV, a content analysis study analyzed the slant of incidents of tobacco and alcohol on the reality TV show The Osbournes during its first season. Three-quarters of the depicted incidents had a slant favoring tobacco use endorsement and 64% of the depicted incidents had a slant favoring alcohol use endorsement” (63).

The popular early 2000s reality show, Jersey Shore, contributes to this issue because alcoholism dramatically affected one of the cast members, Nicole Polizzi (also nicknamed Snooki). Because of her persistent drinking, Polizzi had been arrested for her behavior “after an apparently epic beach bender and was hauled away in cuffs” (Jackson and Goldsmith).

Also, since Polizzi was drinking so much, she had suffered from blacking out. The writers also quote a source off of “EOnline.com” that the Jersey Shore star “was passed out face down in the sand,” and “couldn’t even stand up” (Jackson and Goldsmith). Some viewers may find that a show like this can affect their perspective on life. According to Jamie Sotonoff, writer for Daily Herald, “The study of more than 1,100 tween and teenage girls found reality TV — shows like ‘Teen Mom,’ ‘American Idol,’ ‘The Bachelor,’ ‘Project Runway’ and ‘Jersey Shore’ — have mixed effects on girls.”

People, such as younger people, should not have to witness such vulgar behavior happening and not give a message to help these problems and, in which they rather use it for entertainment. Senseless activities that these celebrities partake in are not meant to be portrayed in a real-life perspective because they are not professional nor tolerable in reality.

Nevertheless, many people tend to believe that reality television shows are a positive network to watch because they are therapeutic and an authentic source for obtaining knowledge of societal issues. Even so, many people like Sadie Gennis, a senior editor for TV Guide, feel that reality television cures people of their wayward consciences from the worries they have in their daily lives. Gennis says, for example, that reality television “reminds us things can always get better.” For instance, Gennis uses an example of homosexuality, which is an issue that has been difficult for society to accept, and reality television is a way for people to observe and grow aware of the ridicule that homosexuals have to overcome.

In this case the journalist says, “Being gay, let alone a drag queen, remains challenging, as many RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants have evidenced” (Gennis). Also, reality television is helpful because it makes the viewer more knowledgeable about other ethnicities. “Thanks to reality shows like Shahs of Sunset, Princesses: Long Island and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I learn all about different cultures and perspectives” (Gennis). Likewise, many children see some reality shows are a positive outlet, for it helps with learning and seeing how people overcome challenges in life.

Lakshmi Singh, a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, says “For example, we know that many girls receive inspiration and comfort from reality TV and that 62 per cent of girls say that these types of shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes.” Children can watch these types of shows and be able to apply the courage endorsed through the show to their own ambitions. For this point, reality television has a way of allowing the viewer to observe and take in the realities from these luminaries and further find comfort in what is shown on their screens.

On the contrary, as reasonable as this may be, reality television is not a necessary help for people, for there are many inessential reasons that this type of media is not a positive outlet for them. Ged Cann, a Stuff journalist, discussed the conflict with how involved a viewer is with reality television stars and the fascinating lifestyles they possess. In reality shows, these intriguing attributes are not to be worshipped as an authentic way of life, for it creates an envious perspective for the viewer.

For instance, Cann gives an example of a viewer’s perspective by saying, “By looking at the Kardashian¬¬ house, they think ‘maybe one day I’ll be able to attain that’. It actually undermines your group’s interests and further perpetuates inequality.” My cousin, as formerly said, is only eight years old, and she is very impressionable. Therefore, she sees these people on the television screen and is already talking about getting lip injections, belly-button piercings, and tattoos, and she is not even at a double-digit age yet.

This type of network exposes unwanted thoughts and perspectives that children do not need to become aware of until they are older. Also, pertaining to this, Sahana Charan, writer for magazine, ParentCircle, says in her article that “They may get so involved in a program that they lose touch with reality.” So, reality television shows off a perspective that many desperately desire or focus on, but it does not relate to the common people. Meaning, reality television is as an unrealistic source where people should not focus their thoughts on what is portrayed on their televisions.

Furthermore, reality television is still looked upon as a glorious source of entertainment and life lessons. Hence, it should not be watched as if it was an actual reality to look into because of how impressionable it can be on a person’s way of life. However interesting these shows may be, the viewer should not have to rely on what a real housewife or Kardashian has to say or do in order to be entertained. Some may still embrace the idea of watching these shows, but, according to psychologist, Melanie Greenberg, “it’s fascinating and rather tragic” for a reality star to do so much to themselves and have such an impact on a viewer’s viewpoint on things.

Eventually, society will grow close-minded to their own authentic ideas of wellbeing and, like my cousin, they will develop a higher interest for adjusting their lives into the deficient yet influential people into a reality similar to reality television. This issue still stands today, and I urge everyone to come together and realize that reality television is not a fundamental source of entertainment but a detriment to young and old minds. I advise everyone to join me in solving and ending the mystery in finding the reality in reality television.

Works Cited

  1. Cann, Ged. “Keeping up with the Kardashians ‘Bad for Your Mental Wellbeing’.” Stuff, 26 Feb. 2017, 5:00, www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/89591886/keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-bad-for-your-mental-wellbeing.
  2. Charan, Sahana. “Why Reality Shows Are Bad For Children.” ParentCircle, ParentCircle, 15 Nov. 2018, www.parentcircle.com/article/why-reality-shows-are-bad-for-children/.
  3. Fogel, Joshua, and Alexander Shlivko. “Reality Television Programs Are Associated With Illegal Drug Use and Prescription Drug Misuse Among College Students.” Substance Use & Misuse, vol. 51, no. 1, 2015, pp. 62–72., doi:10.3109/10826084.2015.1082593.
  4. Gennis, Sadie. “Why Reality TV Is Good for Us | TV Guide.” TVGuide.com, TV Guide, 27 June 2013, www.tvguide.com/news/why-reality-tv-good-for-us-1067294/.
  5. Greenberg, Melanie. “Why We Can’t Stop Watching ‘The Real Housewives.’” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 Mar. 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201303/why-we-cant-stop-watching-the-real-housewives.
  6. Jackson, Joe, and Samuel Goldsmith. “’Jersey Shore’ Star Snooki Arrested in Seaside Heights, Charged with Disorderly Conduct: Report – NY Daily News.” Nydailynews.com, New York Daily News, 9 Apr. 2018, www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/jersey-shore-star-snooki-arrested-seaside-heights-charged-disorderly-conduct-report-article-1.200986.
  7. Pillai, Shruti. “12 Shocking Facts About Reality TV Shows The Makers Don’t Want You To Know.” ScoopWhoop, ScoopWhoop, 14 June 2016, 21:29, www.scoopwhoop.com/shocking-facts-behind-reality-tv-shows/#.ncvnx5ixf.
  8. Singh, Lakshmi. “Why Reality TV Is Good for Kids.” The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 2012, www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/why-reality-tv-is-good-for-kids-20120604-1zroo.html.
  9. Sotonoff, Jamie. “Study Says Girls Affected by Reality TV.” Daily Herald, Daily Herald, 4 Nov. 2011, www.dailyherald.com/article/20111103/news/711039954/.
  10. Tiley, Claire. “The Reality TV Habit.” OnePoll, 1 Jan. 2016, www.onepoll.com/the-reality-tv-habit/.
  11. Weaver, Nicole. “’The Real Housewives of Atlanta’: Nene Leakes Dares Kim Zolciak-Biermann to Do This 1 Thing.” The Cheat Sheet, The Cheat Sheet, 16 June 2018, www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/the-real-housewives-of-atlanta-nene-leakes-dares-kim-zolciak-biermann-to-do-this-1-thing.html/.
  12. Wierks, Kylee. “Doctors Warn about Long-Lasting Effects of ‘Kylie Jenner Challenge’.” FOX59, FOX59, 22 Apr. 2015 https://fox59.com/2015/04/22/doctors-warn-about-long-lasting-effects-of-kylie-jenner-challenge/.
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