VIDEO: Jennifer L. Pozner on CBC News “Connect with Mark Kelley”: 25th anniversary of “The Real World”
Yesterday, I wrote that I’d be appearing on CBC News’s Connect with Mark Kelley to discuss the state of reality television on the 25th anniversary of MTV’s iconic The Real World. Today, I’m happy to share the interview with you. My discussion is part of the following six-minute video package, starting at 2:14:
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:
Newsweek reviews Reality Bites Back: “Everything I Learned About Women I Learned From Reality TV” (Plus: my slideshow: “Reality TV’s 9 Worst Stock Characters”)
As a long-time media critic, I can tell you that this is not a sentence I’m accustomed to writing: Corporate media gave me a huge gift yesterday.
As I traveled to Denver (to moderate a panel and have a wine and cheese reception for my book at the Women’s Studies Association conference), Newsweek’s Jessica Bennett reviewed Reality Bites Back in a lively feature headlined, “Everything I Learned About Women I Learned From Reality TV.” Her subhead that says it all: “Which means I must think they’re all desperate, competitive, plastic-surgery-obsessed bimbos. The problem? Today’s reality entertainment is a lot more like fiction.”
I couldn’t be happier with Benett’s take on the book and the issue of representation of women in this genre throughout the last decade. She writes:
On Monday, to celebrate the official publication of Reality Bites Back, I blogged the launch of Reality Rehab with Dr. Jenn, a book trailer and satirical web series spoofing — and then liberating — reality TV’s stock characters through media literacy therapy. Monday also saw the debut of Webisode 1: The Desperate Bachelorette (see below), and yesterday we met “The Angry Black Woman” in Reality Rehab Webisode 2, also below.
Today, it’s time to reveal Reality Rehab Webisode 3: The “Real” Housewife. Although she doesn’t know what “homogeneous” means, she explains — while sipping copious martinis, naturally — that her friendships are actually much more supportive than it seems on Bravo, whose producers instructed her to focus her on-air conversations on “More brand names, less deep thought!” Her media literacy therapy includes a case study in Frankenbite editing–a must-see for every reality TV fan!
Four more Reality Rehab videos will roll out over the course of the next week, including The Slutty Bitch, The Top Model, The Douchebag Dude, and The Gangsta Guy.
On Monday, to celebrate the official publication of Reality Bites Back, I blogged the launch of Reality Rehab with Dr. Jenn, a book trailer and satirical web series spoofing — and then liberating — reality TV’s stock characters through media literacy therapy.
Today, in Reality Rehab Webisode 2, “The Angry Black Woman” starts out as a screaming, cursing, threatening mess, just as so many women of color have been framed on Flavor of Love, The Apprentice, and America’s Next Top Model. But after intensive media literacy therapy, she explains how producers manipulated her persona–turns out, she’s actually a compassionate hospice nurse who never wanted Flav in the first place!
Watch the brilliant Allison Jones unpack one of reality TV’s most insidious forms of racial typecasting:
Close to 700 people have watched the trailer in the first day and a half, and it was picked up by the Vancouver Sun and half a dozen other Canadian news outlets. Blog it, tweet it, share it on Facebook, Tumblr… let’s spread the laughs around:
Today, in conjunction with the official release of Reality Bites Back, I’m excited to debut a satirical book trailer and webisode series, “Reality Rehab with Dr. Jenn“– where all your favorite reality TV stock characters come to get deprogrammed:
In addition to the trailer, I’ll be rolling out seven webisodes, one for each character. The first webisode follows The Desperate Bachelorette (modeled after shows such as The Bachelor, Tough Love, Married By America, Joe Millionaire and more). When we first meet her, she embodies reality TV’s stereotype about single women as weepy, pathetic losers who can never possibly be happy or successful without husbands, mouthing lines pulled directly from actual quotes from some of these shows, such as “I don’t want to die alone!” and “I would be a servant to him!” By the end of the webisode, her media literacy therapy has helped her realize that, in fact, she has a full life, a great career and a lot going for her, and she can wait for a truly fulfilling relationship, rather than grasping for romance with any randy dude who’ll snog her for fifteen minutes on national TV.
In a review today titled “Reality TV’s messages get a smackdown from feminist critic’s book,” the Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow calls Reality Bites Back “an entertaining and sharp-eyed takedown” of reality television that “unpacks the political and commercial agendas behind the genre.” In this, the first review in a major U.S. newspaper, Ostrow writes, “Pozner has delivered a savvy, not-too-academic analysis of a form that’s not a just fad — and one that’s eating up more and more of the TV schedule”:
Quick reminder: if you’re in New York City, Hunter College is the place to be today, as media literacy activists, media makers, youth educators, girls’ rights advocates, scholars — and, importantly, girls themselves — will be coming together for the SPARK Summit (Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge).
On behalf of Women In Media & News, I’m thrilled to be presenting tomorrow during the “Shining a Light on Sexualization in the Media” workshop, along with Andrea Quijada of the Media Literacy Project, and Yana Walton and Jill Marcellus of the Women’s Media Center. Andrea will be conducting an interactive media literacy game, we’ll show a Spark Summit-produced video about sexualization (including many clips from reality TV shows), after which I will discuss sexualization in reality TV–in particular, stereotypes about women’s sexuality, the differences in how hypersexualization of women of color plays out, how to watch critically.
Media personalities including Geena Davis and MTV’s Amber Madison will be speaking, as will WIMN allies such as Samhita Mukhopadhyay of Feministing, sex educator and young feminist leader Shelby Knox, Emily May of HollaBack, the WMC’s Jamia Wilson, and many others.
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:
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.”
Quote of the day:
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…”: