Archive for the 'Other' Category

ColorLines on race and reality TV: from cultural transgression to minstrel shows


Today at ColorLines Magazine, Neelanjana Banerjee looks at race, representation and reality TV and asks, as per the story’s headline: “Is Reality TV a Revolution for Race or the New Minstrel?”

A smart, nuanced and well-reported piece, Banerjee notes that:

“A series of NAACP reports have tracked the dismal representation of African Americans and other people of color on network television for the past decade. In 2000, the NAACP called for a boycott of the four major networks because none of their 26 new shows featured an actor of color in a lead or starring role. In 2006, the NAACP reported the number of minority actors of any sort in prime-time had declined to barely 300. In its most recent report, however, the NAACP declared reality TV ‘the only bright spot’ in the industry.”

The NAACP could arrive at such a conclusion because, as Banerjee writes, “Today, the mainstream dating shows, such as ‘The Bachelor,’ primarily ignore people of color. But on competition shows and on cable networks, characters of color are much more likely to show up.”

Which


Archive for the 'Other' Category

CBC Day 6 radio interview on reality TV suicides: irresponsible casting + unstable people + psy-ops conditions = powder keg


Today on CBC Radio, I spoke with Day 6 host Brent Bambury about the suicide of Joseph Cerniglia, a participant on Gordon Ramsey’s Fox reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. [Listen to the interview at the link above, 17:38-24:05]

When the troubled restaurant owner was trying to prove himself on Ramsey’s show, taped in 2007, the vitriolic celebrity chef told him, “Your business is about to f**king swim down the Hudson.” Last week, his body was found in the Hudson, his death ruled a suicide.

If this was a scripted film, critics would say that connection was a bit too on-the-nose.

This marks the second Ramsey reality alum to take their own life. The first was Rachel Brown, who shot and killed herself in 2007 after appearing on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen in 2006.

As I told Day 6, I do not blame producers or networks for these suicides–but I also do not consider them shocking, in the least. There should be some accountability from networks for the dangerous game they play when they actively seek to cast just the sort of personalities one would assume would be viewed as untenable for shows in which people live together in high-stress environments. And while not all reality show participants are unstable, even those who start off even-keeled often face taping conditions that are designed to break them down, including: sleep deprivation, limited food, ever-present alcohol, constant surveillance, isolation from the outside world, no communication with friends and family beyond sporadic recorded conversations–all of which have been used by intelligence agencies as elements of torture.


Archive for the 'Other' Category

Video: Stephen Colbert, Supreme Court Justice Scalia, and… The Bachelor


Quote of the day:

“All Scalia is saying is women aren’t persons.” [Especially on The Bachelor.]
— Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, 9/29/10

I have nothing but love for this “The Word” segment about “all the special rights that minorities are asking for these days… if we keep giving them rights, there will be fewer rights left for us. That’s just math…”:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Original Spin
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Archive for the 'Other' Category

“We need an overflow room for the overflow room!”–KState during reality TV lecture


Thank you to the fantastic students, faculty and staff of Kansas State, who turned out in droves for my talk Tuesday night, “Project Brainwash: Why Reality TV is Bad for Women (…and men, people of color,

the economy, love, sex, and sheer common sense).”

As noted in this lovely article in the Kansas State Collegian, the 660-seat hall where I spoke exceeded capacity. The overflow room broadcasting the lecture upstairs in real-time sat approximately 433 people: also packed. Which led to my favorite tweet of the night:

@KSUMatt: KSU Union Project Brainwash by @JennPozner #RealityBitesBack #kstate we need an overflow room for the overflow room!

…and so a third room was added (haven’t heard yet how many people ended up there).

Think makes more than 1,000 K-Staters excited about feminist media criticism. Who knew Manhattan, Kansas would be the site of the largest audience for any media literacy event I’ve done in ten years of lecturing?


Archive for the 'Other' Category

EVENT TONIGHT: Sept 21, 7pm, Manhattan, Kansas: “Project Brainwash: Why Reality TV Is Bad for Women (…and men, people of color, the economy, love, sex, and sheer common sense!)


KANSAS EVENT: Tonight is my first talk on reality TV for the fall semester (calendar here), and I’m happy to kick of WIMN’s multimedia lecture tour to Kansas State.

WHAT: Project Brainwash!: Why Reality TV Is Bad for Women (…and men, people of color, the economy, love, sex, <em>and sheer damn common sense!)

WHERE: Kansas State University, Forum Hall

WHEN: Tonight, Sept 21, 7pm

I’m excited to bring a critical conversation about gender, race and advertising in reality television to a campus that seems extremely engaged in ongoing discussions about other aspects of reality TV based on their “common read” book, The Hunger Games, a dystopian young adult novel about a world in which one powerful Capital city forces all its districts to send two of its children to a televised death match where only one makes it out alive. Picture Survivor, but with every 12-18 -year-old contestant out to slit your throat. And where Jeff Probst is secretly hoping you won’t starve to death… but only because getting viciously slaughtered by one of your peers would play better on TV.
.
Tonight’s talk offers a brief glimpse at the issues I delve into in Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV (now available for pre-order).


Archive for the 'Other' Category

“Bridalplasty”: If you’re shocked, you haven’t been paying attention


In November, just in time for those all-important Nielsen sweeps (and in the same month as Reality Bites Back will be published), E! will debut Bridalplasty, a headline-baiting reality show combining the desperation and body dysmorphia of Fox’s cosmetic surgery competition The Swan with the unbridled hyperconsumption hawked by wedding industrial complex series such as TLC Say Yes to the Dress, and WeTV’s Bridezillas and My Fair Wedding with David Tutera.

Dismally derivative, Bridalplasty will pit future brides who “want the dream wedding AND the dream body to go along with it” and “are willing to do whatever it takes to beat the competition in order to get that perfection”

against one another in wedding planning challenges. According to E!’s press release, each week the “lucky” winner of each challenge:

“will also get one piece of her dream body – going under the knife for one of the surgeries off her ‘wish list.’ The last bride standing will have the opportunity to have an extreme plastic surgery makeover and win a wedding fit for the stars where she will unveil her shocking new look for the very first time to the man that she’s about to marry.”


Archive for the 'Other' Category

TONIGHT: Livetweeting America’s Next Top Model Cycle 15, 8pmEST: Join me on Twitter @jennpozner


OK, it’s official: my summer reality TV fast (a needed respite after sending the Reality Bites Back manuscript off to my publisher) is over. To mark the occasion, I’m going to be livetweeting analysis of the season premiere of America’s next Top Model, Cycle 15 — yes, 15 — tonight at 8pm EST. (UPDATE: Full feed of the livetweeting session below.)

Long-time readers of my other blog (WIMN’s Voices, the group blog of Women In Media & News) know that I’ve monitored this series since it debuted, often to horrifying results. Not surprisingly, then, ANTM features quite often throughout Reality Bites Back, in chapters on body image, race, and product placement advertising and media economics. But the show also has the distinction of being the only reality series of the decade to get its own chapter in the book: “Ghetto Bitches, China Dolls, and Cha Cha Divas: Race, Beauty, and the Tyranny of Tyra Banks.” Let’s see if tonight gives us a glimpse why…

Send your questions, comments and snarky hashtags about gender, race, beauty, product placement, manipulation, Tyra Banks’ batshit crazy antics, and anything else ANTM-related to @jennpozner on Twitter, or post your questions to the comments section below. (You can connect to my Twitter feed by clicking on the blue “t” icon on the sidebar at the right of this page.)


Archive for the 'Other' Category

In which I tell The Today Show what women want to see on TV…


Yesterday, I blogged about new network market research claiming that women want to see bloody, gory violence perpetrated by their small-screen counterparts — and why that interpretation of the research reflects a crisis of vision on the part of programming decision-makers.

Today, I discussed this issue with The Today Show’s Amy Robach, explaining that it’s not the blood and violence women want–it’s fully fleshed-out, well-written, strong, smart, witty female characters with agency. (I described this as the opposite of all those babes fighting for the lone Y chromosome in their midst on reality shows like The Bachelor and sniping at each other on frenemy series like The Real Housewives.) Check it out:

What Women Want to Watch on TV,” The Today Show, NBC, Sept. 4, 2010:

I’ll add to this post a bit later — so, stay tuned for details about why the segment was framed around female TV heroines, rather than “women want blood!” as it was originally going to be. But since I woke up at 5:30am to get to the studio on time, you don’t want me writing much right now.


Archive for the 'Other' Category

DVR Alert: Talking women and TV on NBC’s The Today Show, Sat 8:30(ish) am, EST


What do women want? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article (“The Girl with the Gun”), the answer is violence. Lots of bloody violence.

I’m not so sure, as I’ll be discussing on NBC’s The Today Show this Saturday morning, 9/4 (tomorrow) some time within the 8:30 to 9am EST block. It will be a three to four minute segment, so I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to cover. But I can promise you one thing: I will be mentioning Buffy

The WSJ piece, pegged to new network market research findings, insists that women want to see lots of tough women in violent action and crime dramas, the gorier and more gruesome the better. I think this is a misinterpretation of the findings, and a misunderstanding of women’s motivations and desires as viewers.

Women want to see complex, strong female characters living self-defined lives, standing up for themselves and one another, and contrary to what the WSJ and network execs claim, this is not a particularly new desire on the part of female viewers. That’s always been in evidence, from the female fan bases of Wonder Woman and Cagney & Lacey in the 1970s, to Xena: Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the 1990s, to Alias, Veronica Mars and The Closer this decade. These have all been hugely popular with women; some as breakout bona fide network hits, others as cult favorites.


Archive for the 'Other' Category

Reality Bites Blog: Because there’s no such thing as “mindless entertainment”


Welcome to Reality Bites Blog, which picks up where Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV leaves off.

I’ll be posting regularly with news and analysis of current reality shows, stars, and producers, with my usual recipe of 2-parts-critique, 1-part-snark. Want to dish about your love/hate relationship with Jersey Shore’s Snooki, the latest American Idol judge or contestant, or that reality scandal Joel McHale snarked about on The Soup? Come back soon — this’s all on tap.

Upcoming topics include the despicable planned reality show (and potential snuff-film-of-the-week) about US troops working to diffuse bombs in Afghanistan, the danger and exploitation inherent in this misguided domestic violence reality show pitch, and, on a lighter note… which NBC, FOX and MTV series did ABC cannibalize to make their new low-rent Bachelor knockoff show, Bachelor Pad?

Reality Bites Blog will also take on whatever ridiculous controversy is in the headlines at the moment. If any network is inane enough to buy Levi Johnston’s made-for-reality-TV Wasilla mayoral campaign show, trust me, I’m on it. (On the critique, I mean. Not the show. Can you imagine?) The next time some misogynist dad pretends his kid floated away in a balloon when he was really hidden in an attic (yet nearly every news outlet in the country rushes to report the hoax as fact), this blog will be firmly tethered to sanity. You’re welcome.