An analysis on Brainwash

Let’s start this analysis out by clearing a thing or two. As a staff member of Un film de, I would like to loosen the limitations placed on the site’s central aims by declaring its presence one targeted towards entertainment, art, and culture. Also, with the amount of attention television is bringing in with works such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, and even a miniseries such as Carlos, it is difficult to deny television’s importance or even equality to culture and movies. Although film is our primary baby here, we cannot ignore its cousin television. With that in mind, we must address the current crisis our generation is experiencing in the medium.

Now, I am sure that everyone here has heard of the analogy of the chicken and the egg. The dilemma in that situation is whether the chicken came first, or the egg did. Seeing as it is an analogy, it is very applicable to many aspects of life. In relation to reality television, it, too, strikes a familiar cord. The central problem we’re dealing with is whether or not our culture has influenced the dilemmas and dramas of reality television, or if their fabricated issues have influenced us. I bring up this topic because I have experienced, through interactions with some of my friends, that a majority of the problems caused within groups of teenagers relates almost repetitively to those found in shows such as Jersey Shore or MTV’s The Real World.  There is nothing wrong with watching reality television; I even find it to be fairly entertaining. However, that is not the issue at hand. What is of great concern to me is that today’s youth has fallen into reality television’s entertainment-scheme in terms of believing that petty dramas and issues with no clear resolution should place an important stance amongst our priorities. It’s okay to watch these shows, but it’s not okay to take them seriously. Today, I will be focusing on the question of which came first, our dilemmas, or the reality television show’s dilemmas, why today’s teenaged culture is influenced by these reality shows, and, lastly, why this influence is, indeed, a negative one. Now, in means of keeping all of you from falling asleep, let’s talk about something we’ve all seen: Jersey Shore.

In shows like Jersey Shore, women are obviously one of the main attractions in terms of where the drama starts, and what drives the show’s intrigue. When watching this show, it’s hard not to believe that by being dramatic, these women seem to be convinced that they are given positive attention, and thus cause unwanted troubles. Margaret Bernstein’s article ‘Does reality TV for teens induce bad behavior?’ references the term “the thrill of being mean”, from Louisa Stein, which is said to give women a “cultural shift” on the way they interact with other women. An example of this could easily be seen in movies like Mean Girls. Moving onto MTV’s The Real World, I have always been dumbfounded by how shows like this seem to replicate and exaggerate problems from real life. Although, once the affect of shows like that are analyzed more thoroughly, it is quite clear that the teenagers of today are looking up to these characters as role models, and acting upon their actions in an effort to be more comparable to them. This may very well be out of boredom from living what today’s youth perceive as a typical life.

The youth of today are looking for more excitement in their day. These reality shows offer them entertainment like nothing else they’ve every seen, and entertainment is perfectly fine. However, it is the application of that entertainment which Louisa Stein seems to be worried about. Louisa Stein, a professor at San Diego State University, theorizes that younger kids, with low levels of understanding of the outside world, will view situations from reality television as admirable and an ideal way to act and behave. Not only is this where “the thrill of being mean” comes into affect, but it is also where originally begins to slowly deteriorate.

Instead of pursuing individualistic and unique qualities, most kids now these days end up taking after characters from television due to dissatisfaction in their own lives. In relation to Jersey Shore, although it may not seem severe, were there not many Halloween costumes portraying that show’s characters? Even though it may have been done out of fun, this does show a small strive towards how a large following of people view these characters as likeable and as models for an exemplary life. People want to live their life style. They see these characters and glorify the amount of partying they do and the amount of relationships they’re involved in. These shows convince people that this is the life-style to live. However, it is much more satisfying to live a life cherished by your family and friends, rather than a life consumed by fabricated topics and characteristics on MTV. The most rewarding prize of them all is creating your own characteristics and personality traits.

Today, I have discussed the mystery of whether or not the issues so common in today’s youth are fabricated by reality television, the intense and undying influence these shows have on teenagers, and why this influence may be harmful. Reality television has, thus far, succeeded in convincing our fellow youth that futile issues and dramas should place within our list of concerns. We must change this. It is up to us to realize that shows such as Jersey Shore and MTV’s The Real World should be taken as entertainment only, not as true reality.

Thank you for reading,

Omar Antonio Iturriaga

*: Bernstein, Margaret. ‘Does reality TV for teens induce bad behavior?’ 2008. — “Jersey Shore.” 495 Productions. MTV. 2009. Jersey Shore. — “MTV’s The Real World.” MTV. 1992. San Francisco. — Stein, Louisa. San Diego State University.