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Mindless TV?: Jennifer L. Pozner not buying it

By Lakeesha J. Harris
On April 20, 2011


Jennifer L. Pozner, over the span of a year, watched more reality television than she cares to remember. In her discussion entitled Project Brainwash: Why Reality TV is Bad for Women, on Monday, April 4 – she asserts that misogyny is in the DNA of reality television. "My goal today is get you to delete the phrase ‘mindless TV.' from your vocabulary," said Pozner. Appar­ently misogyny and profit, which have historically gone hand in hand, are continuously on the make for the bot­tom line. When one breaks down the "realty" of reality TV viewers can see that this certainly is the case.

Reality television is a multibillion dollar industry, with more and more shows cropping up every day. Pozner argues that shows such as "The Bachelor" and "Joe Millionaire" cre­ate fictional, fairy-tale worlds where the white male is rich and can have his choice of any woman he wants. Armed with her montage of snippets from reality shows on major television networks, Pozner asserts that these broadcasts cement the male versus female dichotomy, and maintains the status quo of money creation from the bodies of women.

Not to mention, reality TV is continu­ously engaging because it confirms the stereotypes that society has worked so hard to construct. Take for instance the hit reality series Flavor of Love. During this shows stent on VH1, Black women were depicted as gold-diggers, promiscuous, and violent – while Flavor Flav himself was type-casted as the barbarous pimp, eager to tame these wild women. While the Bachelor was rich and treated his princesses to a nice dinner and romance, Flavor Flav bathed his vixens in vats of lard at the KFC down the road. Pozner states, "This it is not by accident that Flavor of Love can be likened to a minstrel show and The Bachelor was staged as a Fairy Tale. 97 percent of the decision making policies are headed by White men."

If this isn't enough to keep the phrase mindless television from your vocabu­lary, consider the fact that networks really don't care whether you view their show or not. "When networks assert that they are merely ‘giving viewers what they want' they are lying" Pozner asserts. "Even when reality shows fail to gather viewers they, the advertis­ers and producers, gain a considerable profit margin." This is because reality television costs "70 percent less to cre­ate than major dramas, and is created to meet the advertiser's needs not ours" Pozner said. Because of shows like Extreme Makeover, the beauty in­dustry and plastic surgery profits have skyrocketed, raking in a hefty sum for plastic surgeons, beauty industrialist, and their advertising executives.

Mind control and money, not depicting reality, is what television executives are after. The more viewers watch, the more they buy into the falsification of their reality. What a hefty price to pay for mindless TV.

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