Reality Television: A Critique.

Essay by Dmar080 October 2005

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Does reality TV send a positive or negative message about American society? When analyzed and examined as an element of pop culture, reality television is degrading to society, individuals, and ironically, very different from true reality. This essay will focus on the effect of reality TV on society, and its influence on American popular culture.

Reality television has been a part of American entertainment for almost twenty years, although it became extremely popular only about five years ago with the arrival of CBS' "Survivor." The key to Survivor's success and the majority of reality television's success is competition. But when most people think of competition, they think of a direct, candid confrontation. In shows such as Survivor, this isn't the case. Reality television competition is based on betrayal, scheming, backstabbing, and dishonesty, which is glorified in the name of drama. This kind of behavior and competition is common in the workplace, school, and society and is reinforced and popularized by reality television.

Do we want our children to be taught how to solve disagreements and competition by conniving, backstabbing, and lying?

But reality television does not just give our culture a bad name; it also extends to the character of the individual. Consider Fox's hit series "Temptation Island," in which couples are subjected to seduction by beautiful men and women on a tropical island resort. This show points out how easily people, even those in relationships, are tempted to betray their loved ones. But instead of addressing this as a problem, it encourages it as "dramatic" and "fun." It's hard to remember that we're watching a couple be torn apart for the sake of our entertainment, making everyone who watches it seem like a sociopath who enjoys the suffering of innocent people. It's not surprising that other countries...