In honor of National Women’s Appreciation Month in March, ACE (Association of Campus Events) sponsored “Project Brainwash: Why Reality TV is Bad for Women” which was presented by Jennifer L. Pozner.
Pozner is the founder of Women in Media & News (WIMN), which she founded in 2001 to increase women’s power and presence in the public through media analysis, education, advocacy and reform. She has done freelance work on women, media, politics and pop culture that has been published in Newsday, Chicago Tribune, Feminist Response to Pop Culture and many others.
Pozner has appeared as a commentator on ABC News Now’s Top Priority, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Fox News Network’s The O’Reilly Factor, among others. She is the author of the book Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV. She is also a noted public speaker who has spoken at colleges and conferences across the country.
At the start of the presentation, Pozner talked about different reality shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Flavor of Love, among others, and how they are “culturally toxic” to our society, she also said how these shows have social and political consequences on the viewers of these shows.
Pozner said that these shows have been backlashing against women’s rights, and at the end of the presentation, she hoped that the audience would able to identify this backlash. These reality shows exist to meet the public’s demand. Reality shows are cheap and easy to produce, as they cost 50 to 70 percent less to make then scripted shows cost. Reality shows are kept on air longer than scripted shows, even though reality shows aren’t watched as much as scripted shows.
Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? was a reality show that premiered in 2000 on Fox. On the show, 50 women competed in a contest similar to a beauty pageant to be the bride of an unknown multi-millionaire, who they find out later is Rick Rockwell.
Shortly after the program aired, questions were raised as to if Rockwell was an actual multi-millionaire. The Smoking Gun did some digging and discovered that one of Rockwell’s former girlfriends had filed a restraining order against him for domestic violence.
This reality show was an example of the many shows to come in the future of reality television, according to Pozner. This show demonstrated that everyone is not what they seem, Rockwell wasn’t actually a multi-millionaire, and all of the background checks that they did didn’t catch the fact that Rockwell had a restraining order against him.
Pozner says that, “this show sets a template on how women are treated in reality TV for the next 13 years.”
The goal of Pozner’s presentation was not to stop people from watching reality TV, but she said that they should not turn their brains off when they watch it. Most Americans watch reality TV as a way to escape from their busy lives, but during Pozner’s presentation she challenged her audiences to banish the phrase “mindless behavior,” which can occur while watching reality TV.
By Samantha Biastre