Real or Nah?

On Women & Reality Television

White Noise | Kristi Huynh

I’ve been told that there is a difference between what is real and what is not. That, the things I see on television are not always true. This was after an attempt at a WWF Smackdown maneuver on a brother or sister as a kid. Back then all I had to worry about was understanding the difference between me and some outrageously depicted cartoon character like Lisa Simpson. Today, there are hundreds of women of all different sizes, shapes and colors “spilling their tea” in front of the masses. A lot heavier than any episode of The Simpsons I’ve ever seen. This raises the question; how is reality television affecting our perception of women?

American culture celebrates the few, the proud and the brave. We are all aspiring to be the best. When the best our media has is a barrage of beautifully desperate but relatable women, fighting in catsuits it complicates perception.

Millennial culture emulates celebrities. The examples of female behavior shown on reality television might be a cause of discrimination. It’s fine to laugh at Homer Simpson stubbing his toe. It’s un-empathetic to root for an emotionally abused woman to start a cat-fight. We’re being desensitized to the suffering of women and calling it prime-time. Emotional wounds and private parts don’t belong on the dashboard but we continue to tune in night after night binding the thread of our own morals around the concept of pain as entertainment. So, how can we be more empathetic?

Here are some ways that you can use to stay empathetic and aware if you can’t quit watching the drama unfold:

  • Meditate. It’s good for dumping images and emotions that are not useful to you.
  • Don’t watch reality television alone. Express ideas and views with a group to keep the focus on entertaining one another. Watching alone allows too much time for reflection over negative images.
  • Don’t generalize. What you see is a snapshot of one sample of women, be careful not to apply what you see to the people in your life.
  • Don’t be a copycat. The outrageous things that reality television stars do in front of the camera are not socially accepted. Be careful not to let the habits of your favorite characters become your own.
  • Be informed. Learn about how media can be effective in desensitizing viewers.
  • Remember that what you are seeing probably isn’t real. For example: it’s not socially acceptable to fight in public, no restaurant has that much insurance. Don’t let VH1 fool you.

Reality television can be a fun way to relax or take yourself out of a bad situation to a more exotic or vulnerable place. There’s nothing wrong with that.We still have to remain clear on our own ideas and values in order to respect ourselves and other women. We can do that best when we are being informed and proactive. To learn more about desensitization and reality television you can click here.