In class this week we talked a lot about reality television and how it has become a cross-cultural phenomenon. While we touched on it in class I do think that reality television has the potential to be a type of public diplomacy, but it also has the potential to be a detriment to new societies. From our own reality television we know that people who go on reality television shows are not the type of people we want to be. We watch these shows and these people for entertainment, but the majority of the shows are set to humiliate contestants and make us feel better about ourselves. The fact is that reality television can have such a negative connotation that we feel embarrassed to admit to others that we watch it and if we do admit it we call it a “guilty pleasure.” The fact that these people are representing a small subset of Americans who have some psychological need for attention and are usually at least a little bit unstable makes reality television exports a dangerous exchange if left in its original format. In class one of the groups showed a clip of Bulgarian men getting into a fight. While the clip amused us, we were clearly laughing at the two men, and this clip did nothing to enhance the view of Bulgaria to us (this does not mean that it was a complete detriment as I am sure that we all new that this was not a true projection of Bulgarian society). But this is why so many reality TV shows take a premise from a country but nothing else. The entire original culture must be wiped from the show in order to transpose a new and relatable one to audiences in new countries. However, if we would be embarrassed for someone from another country watching our version of a reality show and felt as though we had to defend it and ourselves, then the show is not only a detriment to our outside appearance but to our internal view of self as well. I am not saying that we should not watch reality TV, I know that I will still watch Bad Girls Club and enjoy it for its tacky superficiality, but its wise to realize that reality TV is not as harmless ad we might think.
Who Really is the Biggest Loser? December 3, 2010