Reality tv dating affects on teens
No surprise, then, that a counter-movement has arisen, in the form of books that urge us to take these shows more seriously. Pozner is a journalist and activist, and in the past decade she has watched, by her count, “more than a thousand hours of unscripted programming,” which is a lot if you think of it as work, but not much—two hours per week, which may be less than the average American watches—if you don’t. The book she wrote about her experiment is “Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV” (Seal; .95), and, halfway through, she sums up her verdict: “I’ve found most of it painful (‘Dr.
90210’), aggravating (‘The Bachelor’), or mind-numbingly boring (‘The Hills’).” Still, her target audience is her fellow-viewers, not her fellow-activists, which lends the book a pleasingly unpretentious attitude: readers unfamiliar with Schadenfreude can find a definition in the footnotes, but readers unfamiliar with “Paradise Hotel” are on their own.
Starting in 2004, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, an African-American contestant on Donald Trump’s business competition show, “The Apprentice,” became reality television’s preëminent villain, possessed of an impressive ability to enrage the people around her; Pozner scrambles to explain this phenomenon without casting aspersions on either the antiheroine or her legions of detractors.
First, she assures us that, whatever inspired Manigault-Stallworth’s “Black villainess diva” reputation, “it wasn’t her behavior.” Then, two pages later, she allows that “Omarosa has capitalized on a virulent stereotype about Black women, a path ‘Apprentice’ producers laid out for her.” She is eager to let audiences off the hook: in her account, “American Idol” (which she finds mean-spirited) was a success because energetic cross-promotion “guaranteed ratings gold,” and “Survivor” was a success “largely because the endless, from-all-corners buzz made viewership seem almost like a cultural imperative.”Because Pozner isn’t really interested in viewers, she doesn’t have much to say about why they reject some reality shows while embracing others.
It wasn’t until 2000, though, that Mead’s grand claim started to look prescient.There is a taboo that left-leaning critics of popular culture are obliged to observe: never criticize the populace.Pozner tries her best to honor this proscription, following the trail blazed, half a century ago, by the theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who lamented that “the deceived masses” were easy marks for a cynical and self-perpetuating “culture industry.” Because she writes about reality television, Pozner must observe this taboo twice over—the deceived masses are represented by the people onscreen, too.“Reality” is, if not quite a misnomer, a provocation—a reminder of the various constraints and compromises that define the form.Certainly, “reality television” is an amorphous category; Mark Andrejevic, a cultural theorist, notes that “there isn’t any one definition that would both capture all the existing genres and exclude other forms of programming such as the nightly news or daytime game shows.” If Mead were alive today, she might be surprised at the diversity of the form, which has proved equally hospitable to glamorous competitions, like “American Idol,” and to homely documentaries, like “Pawn Stars,” which depicts the staff and clientele of a Las Vegas pawnshop.