Friday, November 12, 2010

Interviewing Jenn Pozner on Reality TV

Today over at The American Prospect I have an interview with media critic Jenn Pozner, whose new book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, calls out some of the worst racism and sexism in the genre of reality television:

Which are the worst offenders when it comes to sexism?

It's a toss-up -- is it better or worse when shows package themselves as sincere or when the sexism is totally overt? A show like The Bachelor is the longest-running dating show. We've had 20 seasons of the franchise, 14 bachelors and six bachelorettes. The packaging is all about this earnest quest for true love, where every girl wants to be a princess and every boy is Prince Charming, you know, as long as he's wealthy and has a firm ass. The only way to be successful, the only way to be happy, the only way to be financially or personally fulfilled or secure is by glomming on to any guy that will have you. The framing, though, is this mock earnestness.

Compare that with something like Joe Millionaire on Fox or Flavor of Love on VH1, where the premise itself is done with sort of a wink and a nod to viewers. We're supposed to, on the surface, understand that the women are gold diggers, or that the women are stupid and bimbos, and we're supposed to laugh at them. But because it's done with a wink and a nod, there's also a chance that people might not be taking it as seriously as people take a show like The Bachelor. They play out in different ways, the level of sexism.

Read it all here.

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