Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ideals vs. Reals in the Reality Media World


 I think a lot of young people like to consider themselves enlightened and progressive citizens, conscientious and socially liberal people whose values are uninfluenced by desire for fame, money and status.  As such a young person, here are some things that I like to tell myself I believe in: feminism, environmentalism, and conscious consumerism.  That money does not make you happy, love and relationships do.  So by holding these values I should be opposed to media that encourages doing anything for a big paycheck, ridiculous spending, wasting my time idolizing a celebrity culture and wanting to buy Gucci and drive a Benz just because the people on TV do, right?

But despite my idealistic, surface level disdain for reality TV and a materialistic celebrity obsessed culture, I have one major confession to make.  I secretly love it.  I have bought more grocery store tabloids than I care to admit, have the first two seasons of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on my laptop, and every time I visit my younger sister in we fire up the TiVo watch at least 3 episodes of Say Yes to the Dress or The Bachelorette.  Sure, I have my excuses.  It’s essentially free anthropology and psychology field studies, that while exaggerated still represent cultural values.  Whatever, its garbage, but sometimes I just need to turn my brain off.  It’s a socially important female bonding ritual, providing a relaxed environment and subject material we all can relate to(OMG can you believe she pulled Sean out of her date with Tamara? I can’t believe she picked that dress.  Wait, who’s KK’s baby daddy? Kanye?).

Though I am often satisfied with my justifications for watching and being entertained by reality TV shows and tabloid magazines, sometimes it doesn’t sit right.  I have found that it’s pretty difficult to watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and not feel slightly jealous of Camille’s ski house in Beaver Creek or Kyle’s wardrobe.  And I wonder about my real intentions behind watching the Bachelorette.  Am just trying to make myself feel better by judging someone else as “crazy”?.  Recently I have noticed that a lot of the Housewives series focus on women fighting like schoolgirls.  Is this show’s representation of women something I want to boost ratings for? But on the flip side of that, I don’t want to take myself too seriously.  Nobody likes the person that can’t seem to relax and lectures everyone about feminism during a TV show.  And I don’t think using the Bachelorette or Project Runway, as an excuse to get together with your girlfriends is a bad thing; in fact, I think time spent with friends is extremely important to our well being and happiness.

At the end of the day, we all have to be honest with ourselves and draw our own moral lines and look at our intentions. I’ve stopped watching Housewives because I don’t want to support a show that makes women look mean and petty.  But I probably won’t give “Say Yes to the Dress” with my sisters up anytime soon because doesn’t make me want drop nine grand on a wedding dress, and for me it’s more about sibling bonding time than the show’s content.  And for all you other recovering Housewifers, check out “The Real Housewives of Disney,” featuring Kristen Wiig as an alcoholic Cinderella on SNL.  It’s hilarious, and will fill your need for housewives drama and become your hands down favorite cast. 

Photo Credits:
Real House Wives of Beverly Hills
KK's Wedding
Real House Wives of Disney

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