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“...Failed American idol contestants are sometimes subjected to ridicule from the judges that damages their self esteem, detractors assert, while competitors on survivor are often placed in uncomfortable or potentially hazardous situations”. (Page 315)These words are a clear indication of the many dangers posed to the audience and children by extension, by reality television shows. The earliest version of a reality show emerged in the 1830s and since then viewers have always adored this sort of entertainment. We as a society are to blame for all that has emanated from these shows, because our setting in terms of values and beliefs dictates that people behave in a certain way including following these shows.
It has been seen that one of the best ways of getting instant fame is to enter any of the top reality shows for instance The Apprentice. As it stands, the reality shows propagate certain values that have already been entrenched in the society. Depending on the background, one may or may not fit in a show. As such those whose lifestyles and norms don’t fit have to either change or squander the opportunity. People have been forced to adopt new ways of life, if only to appear trendy and fit the descriptions of reality TV stars. Consider this “At their very worst, reality shows exploit their subjects, encourage voyeurism...” (Page 316)
Children who have low self esteem or self worth are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of reality TV. Consider the example given in page 320, “Although of average weight for his height, he believed himself to be a plump”. One does not have to be in the show to experience the effects of negative comments; children actually identify with the participants. While participants who perform well in such shows may derive some benefits but it is the failures that usually end up worse than before. The treatment offered by the judges and the scolding from the public makes most of these entrants to engage in bad behaviours.
The negative effects are not confined to those who do not emerge victorious in the shows. Even if the shows enable the participants to present their views, dealing with instant success is a challenge for most people. Making it big from the reality shows has been known to instil inflated egos in some individuals. Others have engaged in bad behaviour which sometimes leads them into conflict with the law. Eventually such participants end up with ruined lives similar to those who suffer depression for not winning. This is supported by this phrase “critics of reality television, on the other hand, argue that it exploits “everyday” people who are typically unprepared for being thrust into the media spotlight”.(page 316)
Sometimes we blame the viewers and participants so much forgetting that even the show organisers have a role to play in ensuring that something positive comes from such shows. In their current form, reality TV shows have scripted TV and documentaries characteristics. However, most of the good features of the two are not used in the production of these shows. It is therefore difficult to make any changes in the society as evidenced here; “RTV offers young people a fake social life, decreasing the likelihood that they will seek a real one”. (Page 321)
People with inflated egos in the society are many and they are always looking for ways to improve. The reality TV shows offer the chance to gain instant fame, but participation requires that certain values be adopted. However, this is tragic because the environment in a reality TV is far from what is experienced in a real life situation. Reality TV is therefore is not to blame for the societal problems but has been used as way of enhancing some bad behaviour we see today.