It’s A Hard Mob Wive For Us
Since the 1940s when the first black and white television was invented and only the wealthy, affluent families could afford it – the act of watching a pre-programmed show such as Father Knows Best or even a live showing of the Channel Four News became a phenomenon. Society has evolved around the television. Imagine having a family room where the couches do not face the TV, or having to read the newspaper every morning instead of flicking on the nice flat screen and watching Diane Sawyer on ABC World News. Television was the new sliced bread; bringing the excitement of the outside world into the comfort of home. People began following trends they saw on TV, the character’s actions, morals, and even the clothes and hairstyles the actors wore. When television transitioned from actors to “real people” and scripted scenes became “real life occurrences,” the viewer was introduced into an entirely different realm of television: what the networks were calling “reality TV.” On shows such as the Jersey Shore, Project Runway, and Mob Wives, the table – flipping, overexposed breakups, deception and gossip are the morals and actions showcased on these shows. The harmful effects of reality TV are downplayed by this façade of “real life,” and presented as acceptable in everyday life. Reality TV thrives on other people’s humiliation and failure, drawing people in with dirty, nasty, and shameful twists. According to James Poniewozik, “wallowing in the weaknesses and failings of humanity is a trademark of satire…” that writers such as Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift used satire to peak the audience’s interest (Poniewozik). Reality TV morphs people’s image of reality and negatively affects how they view society, no matter if they watch TV or not, either emulating unhealthy competition, poor morals, or humiliation. There exists a common misconception that people primarily enjoy reality TV for its quality, its ability to evoke “real” and “moving” emotions. Rather it is just the opposite. According to my survey titled, “Is Reality TV a Benefit or Detriment to Society?” I asked a total of ten questions to over 100 people on their opinions of reality TV and its impact on society. Over 50% of the participants responded with variations of, “It’s really entertaining” or “they’re trash, who doesn’t love them?” and “it’s stupid but entertaining” (Corn). The reality is that the key source of origin for such a large viewing audience and interest in reality TV is the entertainment aspect, the chance to kick back and laugh at other people’s execution of bad morals, unhealthy competition, and humiliation. More drama equates to more ratings (Poniewozik). Every reality TV show has a producer, who has a manager, who has a CEO, who has a director, and the list goes on. Each person on that reality TV production team is competing with other TV producers, managers, and CEO’s to have higher ratings than each other, to steal the viewers of another show, and to hopefully make it to a second, third, or even fourth season. This competition for limited resources such as time slots for the airing of the show, millions of viewers, and funding from the TV networks leads these producers to do whatever it takes to achieve those goals (Rankin). According to conflict theory, there is always an imbalance of power and those who have the power want to sustain it (Henslin). This is the same thing with reality TV shows, if one is the most viewed, another must be the second most viewed – there can never be two “most watched reality TV series,” it just is not possible. This unhealthy competition between producers dissolves right into the drama on screen. For instance, the reality show Mob Wives on Vh1 exemplifies this ‘competition’ not only for air time, but for dominance of the room. The main women Renee, Drita, Carla, and Karen are constantly ready for confrontation – pointing and waving their hands, which often results to physical brawls as a way...
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