Everyone knows and agrees that Rock of Love: Bus is one of the greatest achievements in the history of television. But is enjoying some mindless laughs at the expense of fame-hungry female reality TV stars harmful to women?
Jennifer Posner's new book, entitled Reality Bites Back, argues that it is, that our repeated exposure to the stupid reality show female archetype actually hurts women as a population. She points out that many early reality shows- The Anna Nicole Show and The Simple Life, for example- played up the "dumb blonde" stereotype and sold it off as entertainment. To make matters worse, much of the stupidity portrayed isn't genuine; it's contrived because audiences want to see and laugh at women being stupid, and the women appearing on these shows deliver what's expected of them.
It's a time-tested bait-and-switch: smart, professionally independent women become more successful by playing the part of the silly, dependent dimwit in the media. The phenomenally accomplished "I Love Lucy" star Lucille Ball, the first woman to head a Hollywood production company, is probably the most famous TV example.
While I agree that women on reality TV shows tend to be mental Lilliputians, I'd argue that the cameras are pretty unforgiving to all of their subjects; from Jersey Shore's Pauly D's Michigan J. Frog-esque refrain of "OH YEAH! CHAMPAGNE YEAH!" to Bret Michaels and his Perenially Puckered Lips Of Destiny, reality TV isn't so much about reality as it is about showcasing human stupidity in all of its beautiful, glistening forms. What is problematic and sexist is that so many shows focus exclusively on the stupidity of insufferable women, and what's especially problematic is the fact that anyone who watches The Real Housewives of America's Soul Sucking McMansion Wasteland thinks that anything about those shows is "real."
What do you think? Is reality TV specifically harmful to women? Are we worse off as ladies now that Kim from The Real Houswives of Atlanta has introduced "Tardy To The Party" to the lexicon?
"Reality TV Does a Real Hit Job On Women's Brains" [Women's E-News]
Image via AP