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Ideology in Reality-TV

Television has the power to shape our perceptions of reality and the world around us by affecting our attitudes and certain ways of thinking. As in this day and age, the genre of reality television is one of the highest grossing, fastest growing, and most popular genre of shows on the air and it being almost impossible to turn on the television and not come across some kind of reality television, I decided on looking at the dominant ideologies presented to us through different kinds of reality television programs.

By looking at reality-TV shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Biggest Looser, The Bachelor or America’s Next Top Model, two major ideological views seem to stand out: the belief that competition is the key to success and the perception of a certain body image as beautiful. Amongst others, shows like Survivor and the Amazing Race reinforce the idea that life is nothing but a competition that we continually engage in with each other. In the end it is always one person that wins – it’s about the survival of the fittest. In shows like The Biggest Looser, The Bachelor or America’s Next Top Model the two ideologies are combined. To be the winner of the competition and to be perceived as beautiful one has to comply with a certain body image which especially applies to women. Women are beautiful if they are thin, wear fashionable clothing, and date the right man.

The ones ultimately benefiting from imposing these ideologies on the viewers are the business people trying to sell us things we don’t really need just to stay in competition with our friends about who has the coolest and newest stuff as well as the tons of beauty products and fashionable clothing that are supposed to make us the most beautiful of all.

The dangerous thing is that the ideologies promoted through reality-TV are very powerful on us which has to do with the title “reality television” itself. Including the term “reality” suggests to viewers that what they see is a completely genuine and unbiased presentation of “real” life with “real” people. Viewers are therefore able to relate to these people and identify with them even more than with people from scripted television programs which makes the effect of the promoted ideology even stronger.

Categories: #2
  1. September 22, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Excellent analysis, Rebecca!

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