Reality television emerged in the late 1940’s and now has become the buzz of television programming featuring unscripted ordinary individuals in real situations. Reality television as genre has erupted into
Technology has created all the newest forms of cultural communication. Televisions are the most influential and allow for the production of various arrays of programming and broadcasting. Television has become the social interpreter for social control. It has influence over how we look, think act and become. Hegemony is the control of one social group over another and using this concept of control, we can identify the victims and perpetuators.
Now if we were to make television the interpreter of one social group, and viewers another social group, we would then create a hegemonic analogy between the control of television over its viewers. According to James Lull’s view on hegemony within social contexts, “technological developments in the twentieth century, however, have made the manner of social domination much more complex than before. Social differences are not determined solely or directly by economic factors. Ideological influence is crucial now in the exercise of social power”. This means that television has become the major force of hegemonic control over social status.
Reality or truth programming as some may call it was created as a form of actuality television where viewers are able to be entertained by other people’s life choices. The underlying ripple affect of the images shown through reality television can be made to be the same as any other messages sent through popular culture. We believe and thrive off pop culture because it is our only way of knowing. The capitalist creation of reality television results in its social acceptance as authenticity, and our goal is to reach this social ideology by reaching into our wallets to be made over, or buying the new diet guide to become the next top model.
Dr. 90210, a makeover reality television show based in the upper class suburb of
The paradox in this reality series is represented when women enter Dr. Robert Rey’s office with the belief that they are in control of their beauty and appearance, however, ultimately they are dependant on the skills of man, giving him the power over their unachievable perfection. Many women on the series desired breast augmentation, rhinoplasty or liposuction; common procedures women believe will help make them more desirable. However, the desirability these women strived for was that not of them, but of those who imposed the beauty standards upon them.
Women tune into The Bachelor in hope for love but then get booted off an hour later only to turn to Dr. 90210 and discover the reasoning why “she” wasn’t good enough. However the doctor is there to save the day, by pumping up those breasts and tummy tucking his way all the way through their television. This beauty myth is a woman’s desire appear as someone different other than the self for unconscious reasons has been imposed on society by socially constructed ideas about beauty and attractiveness. However as Wolf states, “the beauty myth is not about women at all. It is about men’s institutions and institutions of power” (Wolf). If this is so, why do women fill hair and nail salons, why do women believe that surgical alterations will result in self acceptance or that extreme dieting will result in a happier life?
For us as consumers to understand the hegemonic force these makeover realities televisions shows such as Dr. 90210, we must first identify who is controlling what is being broadcasted into our homes and why. “The real concern is the millions of viewers, scores of whom are young girls, who take these misogynistic spectacles uncritically, learning that only the most stereotypically beautiful, least independent women with the lowest-carb diets will be rewarded with love, financial security and the ultimate prize of male validation” (Pozner). The most vulnerable population is being cut, stuffed and lifted by popular culture, but it doesn’t end here. An entire capitalist corporation is built off the insecurities of these women with paradox messages of beauty verses self loving. Dr. 90210, like any other physical makeover series is only adding to the insecurities women, resulting a cycle imperial capitalism controlling what we watch, consume and believe.
Lull, James. "Hegemony." Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Gender, Race and Class in the Media: Text Reader.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women.
Pozner, Jennifer L. "The Unreal World." Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology. By Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair and Nancy Schniedewind.
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