Destructive Force: Reality Television
ENG 122 English Composition II
Instructor Lauren Higgins
April 29, 2013
Reality television shows are shows based on real people in real time. Individuals are put, as a group, in a particular environment where each person, or team, experiences roughly the same things. The fan base for realty shows is extensive and the number of shows has been rapidly increasing in recent years. Reality television has become very popular and, for some, even addicting. These shows, overall, have become detrimental to the public. The negative effects these shows have on the public at large far outweigh the entertainment value or positive effects. While there are shows that are beneficial, reality television can have negative effects on the public because it can become an addiction, it raises the standard of beauty for women, and it can prematurely advance the development of sexuality in teenagers. Reality television makes a huge impact on teen and pre-teen audiences. Increased sexual awareness and insecurity are the two most prominent. Some of the most popular reality shows for these groups are romance based shows like The Bachelor. The Bachelor is a show where a single man is presented with a group of attractive single women of which he must choose one to be a potential wife. The man goes on dates with each woman individually and sometimes in groups. Weekly, he must decide which candidates he does not wish to go on another date with. During the first few weeks of the show, multiple women are eliminated at the same time. Later on, however, they are eliminated one by one. The same is true for the show Joe Millionaire. Yet another show that is romantically based is Temptation Island, where a couple tests the strength of their relationship by each living in a separate residence with a group of attractive individuals of the opposite sex. The goal is to resist the temptation of getting romantically involved with any of the individuals living with them. It is thought that the reason teens and pre-teens watch romantically themed reality shows is that they are viewed almost as a game show. “Temptation Island and similar programs usually feature a competition-based format, elements of game shows, sensationalism, a lighthearted, lively tone, and teasing and/or romantic storylines” (Vandenbosch & Eggermont 2011). Watching these shows has the possibility of increasing teen and pre-teen sexual awareness as well as changing the perceived normal sexual attitude. Vandenbosch and Eggermont hypothesize that “Watching RTRT is positively associated with (a) increased stereotyping of male and female sexuality (referring to men’s sexual obsession and women as sexual objects), with (b) stronger endorsement of a positive attitude toward steady, long-term relationships, and with (c) an increased importance attached to romantic characteristics of the perfect partner.” Using The Bachelor as an example, this means that by watching the show, it is possible that the teen and pre-teen audiences will believe that a man is supposed to be able to “shop around” and a woman should be competing for a man’s attention, long term relationships are something to avoid until the “right one” is found, and that there are certain qualities the perfect partner have to possess. The viewing of these shows also leads to increased peer to peer conversation about sexual relationships. For young people, their peers are one of their most trusted sources of information; therefore, speaking with each other about sexual relations can easily lead to actually performing the act itself. Viewing the fact that there are a large number of pre-teen viewers, it can be hypothesized that this can lead to premature sexual activity. Viewing RTRT is positively related to increased estimates of the sexual experiences of peers.” ( Vandenbosch & Eggermont 2011). A study was taken on teens and pre-teens versus specific shows....
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