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Reality Television Damaging The American Mind

3685 words - 15 pages

In today’s society, television is one of the greatest forms of entertainment. People love entertainment, and television is one of the most accessible sources available to citizens. Television is the type of entertainment that draws viewers in with curiosity. There is a broad spectrum of genres that can be watched on the television. Major genres include drama, reality, informational and comedy. Currently, the most commonly watched television genre is reality television. These programs run on a kind of relating theme where they often display a vast amount of dramatic and unscripted situations that many people can relate to. A big factor of their success is the fact that the shows are not based on actors but on ordinary people (non actors).
Reality television is a genre of television that has existed since the early years of television, but it was not until the late nineties that it truly expanded into major production. This major expansion resulted in shows such as Survivor, Big Brother, and American Idol. These reality television shows have demonstrated dramatically driven moments in the positive light and negative light. We see positive moments on television like when people forgive and help each other through rough decisions or negative moments on television like when we see people doing bad things to each other in order to get their way. Although sometimes funny and exciting to watch, these unscripted moments have often become the subject of controversy. With addictions to illegal substances, wild behavior, unsafe sex, temptations, and deceit the majority of these reality television shows display the negative aspects of life. The question then becomes, with reality television taking over our television screens, is it something that is potentially helping our society to become better, or rather damaging our society in allowing them to believe that making bad decisions is okay and does not have consequences?
Today, people enjoy watching reality television; they typically get home after work and relax by watching these unpredictable, and often humorous, moments of reality television. From listening to the horrific singing on American Idol, to seeing who was voted off the island in Survivor, people enjoy some stress relieving humor after a long day of work. As stated in a study conducted by Zizi Papacharissi and Andrew L. Mendelson, “A survey administered to reality TV viewers revealed that the most salient motives for watching reality TV were habitual pass time and reality entertainment.” We can now acknowledge that the primary reason for watching reality television is for entertainment rather than for acquiring knowledge. Although, is it not possible to adopt some of the qualities of life portrayed by the “characters” of these shows by watching them regularly? For example, if shows like MTV’s The Real World are watched almost daily, then eventually the things seen on these shows may become normal to its viewers. Some of the...

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