Get a front row seat to the results on Evelastingwife.com. Launched on June 24, 2012 the Capstone multimedia thesis project authored by Nicole Merritt Lester sheds light about the negative effects reality television has on young women. The thesis revealed the viewing trends, behaviors of teens.
Reality television as we know it has been around for approximately twenty years, but, with the injection of soap-opera type shows, it has recently infused itself into the entertainment world infinitely. According to realityworld.com, there are literally too many of these shows to count. Its reach was so vast in 2003, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences added “Best Reality Show” as an Emmy category.
To date it has three categories including: “Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program, and Outstanding Reality Program” on the Emmys. More surprisingly, these shows and the participants have become a huge part of the teen world. Teen Choice TV has incorporated Reality Shows into its Awards Shows and has created five categories which include: Female Reality Star, Male Reality Star, Reality Show, Reality Competition Show, and Male Personality.
Prior to the 2012 Teen Choice Awards’, results of psychological reports have deduced that teens model their lives after those of internet and television celebrities. In addition to rash, adult behavior they exhibit, teens have also become obsessed with fame. According to a CNN article, Study: Tween TV today is all about fame, Psychologists Patricia Greenfield and Yalda Uhls advise, “Parents should talk with their children about the television shows they watch. Uhls added “But it’s impossible for most parents to consume the amount of media their children consume.”
Indicative of the massive problem parents are facing, in the same article, fellow psychologist Joana Lipari said “Friends, family and community need to know how to shape these children. In support of the parental community, counseling organizations have added addiction to reality television as their list of services for adults and teens to help guide them.
In an interview with Loren Michelle, a 15 year old student, shares that she watches shows like “Love and Hip Hop, Jersey Shore and the Housewives of Atlanta, to learn how they live and just because it’s funny.” “It’s not all about the fame and fortune” she asserts, “I do like the cute clothes, and if I work hard, I’ll get the same things.”
Loren Michelle, like the other teenage girls that was studied by the 2011 Girl Scouts Study, shows how the reality television craze impacts this generation and influences younger girls who regularly watch the programs. Photo Credit: Nicole Lester
Loren fits the profile of the teenage girl who watches reality television programs and becomes influenced to make decisions based on the person’s actions from the shows she views.
As the problem continues to require an all around, societal response, Screenwriter, Autumn Canaday, in a question and answer session discusses her hopes of finding balance between the art of television and rearing responsible children. With this interview, everlastingwife.com discovers that some professionals in the business are perceptive to the need and are working towards the solution.
Q and A with Autumn Canaday:
Q. What is your educational background and profession?
A. BA, Psychology from Elon University, MA, Journalism and Public Affairs from American University, MFA, Professional Writing (screenwriting) from University of Southern California, Self-Employed Writer.
Q. What reaction did you have to the concept of reality television?
A. I remember watching The Real World on MTV while in undergrad. It seemed so intriguing to be a “fly on the wall” while strangers with polar opposite personalities learn to relate and live together. I was excited about the concept and never expected that 15 years later there would be a whole slew of reality shows based off of lifestyles, careers and media personalities.
Q. Is there any reality in Reality TV?
A. Sometimes. Sometimes the reactions are authentic. Sometimes the backgrounds are authentic. And sometimes you can never really tell.
Q. Can you relate to anything in Reality TV?
A. Some scenarios are familiar. For example, on a competition based show (like Chopped or Chef Roble) it is a familiar feeling to be surprised with a challenge and then pull out every ounce of creativity to complete a task. I cannot relate to fighting and throwing beverages.
Q. How do you feel about its stay in the industry compared to traditional television?
A. Years ago, I believe that people who were comfortable with silent films asked themselves the same thing about “talking pictures.” I think it may be here to stay and will be able to share the stage with traditional television and films/TV sitcoms that are prepared for online viewing.
Q. Do you or would you allow your teen children watch this type programming?
A. It depends on the programming. I don’t think I would have a problem with my teens watching Undercover Boss, What Not to Wear, Salon Takeover or Curb Appeal or something that is themed to inspire, improve or provoke positive change. If my teens are obsessed with negative behavior on a show I would make it a point to talk with them about the personalities and situations they are being entertained by on television. I think teens need conversation and honest discussion about real life situations that they will face (and how to properly respond) once they leave my home.
Q. What effect does it have on society?
A. I believe reality TV has multiple effects on society. On one hand, people and children are watching shows and seeing what it’s like to be a stylist, fashion designer, architect, interior designer, ER doctor, chef, event planner or CEO. These shows can offer a peek into a new career for some people. They offer a glimpse into many different career and life paths that earlier generations may not have considered. On the other hand, the rush for ratings and sensationalism can cause society to seek out shows that specialize in catty and destructive behavior.
Q. Do you think the industry has social responsibility?
A. This is tricky. If the industry has a social responsibility for personal behavior then the writers and producers of Halloween and Friday the 13th or Scream are responsible for every murder and serial killer this country has prosecuted. The industry’s social responsibility should fall along the lines of producing shows that inspire. That’s what art is for, right?
Q. What do you think can be done to create a balance?
A. Nothing speaks louder than ratings.
Q. Do you think reality stars are replacing actors?
A. Not at all. True acting is a gift and it cannot be duplicated.
Q. Should they endure the same training, etiquette?
A. No. In reality TV, you can’t train for a personality. People want personality and interesting scenarios/situations in reality TV.
Q. What are your future expectations and/or hopes for television?
A. Great TV shows are scarce nowadays. I hope for more television shows (scripted and reality) that provoke inspiration and positive change.