Are you a last-minute Christmas gift-giver? Do you owe belated Chanukah and Solstice presents? Well, take it from Feministing, Isak, Hello Ladies and Women’s Voices for Change: Reality Bites Back makes the perfect gift!
I wrote the book to spark a national conversation about the meaning and impact of reality TV on our culture, and in doing so I hoped to make media literacy not only enlightening, but fun. So, I’m really excited to see Reality Bites Back popping up on holiday gift guides by respected media outlets and blogs who seem to find the book engaging and enjoyable. I’m also gratified and flattered to see the book recommended by readers on Twitter as “The Must-Have Book This Season” and discussed as good holiday reading options on Facebook by professors who say, “I’ve read it, I’ve taught it, Jenn has been in LA to discuss it — I’m all about it. If you haven’t yet, go get it!”
At Feministing, the book tops Courtney Martin’s “Not Oprah’s Book Club: Holiday Edition” gift guide:
For your mom, the closeted reality TV show fan: Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner:
This incredibly thorough look at the toxic patterns and stereotypes rampant in the country’s most beloved genre of television show will not only blow your mom’s mind, but get her to change the damn channel.
It was a huge honor to find Reality Bites Back listed on p.5 as the very second book in journalist Anna Clark’s incredibly comprehensive, thoughtful 57-page (!) pdf booklet, “Choose Books: A Gift Guide for People Who Care About Stories. “While updated for the 2010 holiday season, this gift guide can also help you navigate 2011’s birthdays, holidays, ceremonies, and affectionate ‘just thinking of you’ surprises,” Anna writes. Here’s what she says about RBB:
Media critic Jennifer L. Pozner takes apart the twisted fairy tales that saturate contemporary television in one of the most anticipated titles from Seal Press. With humor and intellectual vigor, Reality Bites Back looks seriously at how reality television crystallizes–and creates–sadistic attitudes about femininity, masculinity, race, class, love, marriage, sex, beauty, youth and consumption.
While many might dismiss reality television as merely ridiculous, innocuous, or a guilty pleasure, Pozner puts the phenomenon in context of the social issues of the day, including national debates about work and family. What might shows like “The Bachelor” and “America’s Next Top Model” have to do with, say, national policy on domestic violence or welfare? More than you might think.
In addition to breaking down the myths and magnetism of reality television of all types, Reality Bites Back includes chapters on media literacy and advocacy that are designed to give readers the tools to speak back to what their culture is saying to–and about–them.
Consider for people who are one or more of the following:
* Frequent watchers of television
* Frequent critics of television
* Subscribers to Bitch Magazine and/or readers of Jezebel
* The ones, one or old, who seem overly susceptible to the whims of pop culture
Clark also mentions this website, and notes that a reading guide will soon be available (yes–I promise–so check back soon!), noting that “It might make a nice gift package to include this book with plans on reading it together, hashing it out, and going together to one of the author events.” (Check the calendar for a regularly updated list of Reality Bites Back events. And find more information here if you’d like to organize your own media literacy event.)
I’m in great company on Hello Ladies “5 Books for Your Holiday Reading List,” alongside Gloria Feldt’s No excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power and Sharon Lerner’s The War on Moms: Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation, among other smart choices:
Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Pozner
Pozner is is founder and executive director of Women In Media & News (WIMN), a media analysis, education and advocacy group. We haven’t cracked this book yet, but we’re looking forward to reading it. Pozner promises to debunk the fairy tales, beauty myths and negative stereotyping of women served up nightly on reality tv shows. If you’ve got a “Real Housewives” habit like we do, read this book.
Reality Bites Back is also recommended on Women’s Voices for Change‘s “Holiday Gift List: Anniversary Edition.”
And though this wasn’t a holiday mention, I got an early Chanukah present from the Library Journal, which gave Reality Bites Back a starred review on Dec. 3, calling it “An essential read.”:
This eye-opening book delves deep into the patterns, philosophies, and behind-the-scenes details surrounding a large number of reality television shows that viewers perceive as harmless entertainment and diversion. Pozner (founder & executive director, Women in Media & News) illustrates how these popular shows—from Extreme Makeover to Bridezillas to Joe Millionaire—send disturbing and demeaning gender, racial, and sexual messages that can be harmful to viewers, especially young people. She takes aim at the money-driven corporate machines that have little regard for the damaging stereotypical portrayal of women and minorities and the inappropriate, often cruel treatment of them on-screen—the ripple effects of which subtly manipulate consumer and social trends as well as cultural standards. Her point-by-point analyses of the shows and specific episodes are amazingly on-target. Pozner goes beyond merely presenting this grim dose of reality to offer concrete, practical suggestions for initiating positive change.
Verdict This work is packed with incisive commentary about reality TV programming along with a wealth of in-depth research to back it up. Pozner writes in an engaging, shoot-from-the-hip style that adds additional impact to the excellent material she presents. An essential read.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
So, do your friends (and me… grin) a favor, and pick up a copy or five of Reality Bites Back for the holidays and through the new year. And ask your local library to stock it, too–if they aren’t so sure, bring a copy of the Library Journal with you!