Speaker: Reality TV full of stereotypes


Maximum capacity was surpassed last night in K-State’s Forum Hall when hundreds of students congregated and overflowed to the Grand Ballroom to listen to Jennifer Pozner.

Pozner, a journalist and author, presented “Project Brainwash: Why Reality TV is Bad for Women (… and men, people of color, the economy, love, sex and sheer common sense).”

As part of Community Cultural Harmony Week at K-State, Pozner was invited to speak to students on the different aspects of reality television and its harmful effects on society, with a focus on women.

“The biggest myth today is that reality television programming exists because the public demands it,” Pozner said. “These programs exist to make profits.”

Pozner said while reality television is cheaper to produce by 50 to 75 percent than other programming and more appealing to viewers, “reality shows may be fun, but they are culturally toxic.”

After showing numerous examples of popular dating shows, such as “The Bachelor” and “Joe Millionaire,” she narrowed in on stereotypes of women and ideals of society.

“Supposedly, each dating show is the ‘perfect fairytale,’ but fairytales are not real and neither are dating shows.”

Continuing with the idea of stereotypes, Pozner said, “Men are seen as worthless without wealth and women as helpless damsels, which raises the question, ‘Does fat wallet plus skinny chick equal love?’ These shows are encouraging the idea that women must think like June Cleaver, look like Miss USA, and have no-strings-attached sex like Samantha from ‘Sex in the City’.”

Her final remarks on reality television dealt with the manipulation and out-of-context editing that continually paints an inaccurate reflection of the participant.

“No one is who they appear to be on TV,” Pozner said. “You think you know Snooki? You don’t know Snooki.”

Reality shows are constantly priding themselves on the idea of tearing women down and poking fun at them, she said.

“That moment where a woman stares off glass-eyed and broken is what reality shows are all about, because underneath all the pretty promises, these shows are against women’s rights,” Pozner said.

Gregory Eiselein, co-director of K-State First and primary organizer for Pozner’s visit, said Pozner was recruited to speak at K-State because other universities in the area were enthusiastic about her and said she had a positive response from students.

Pozner has spoken on the topics of women, media politics and pop culture at more than 70 colleges. She was also named one of the “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter.”

“She has a balance with students by relating to them without condemning,” Eiselein said.

Students in the audience seemed to parallel Eiselein’s statements.

“Pozner hit the nail on the head. I thought her whole presentation was absolutely fabulous,” said Mika Domsch, sophomore in life sciences. “Although I watch a lot of TV, her main points never really occurred to me. She opened my eyes on how women are stereotyped.”

Pozner is the founder and executive director of Women In Media and News. She is also the author of “Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV,” which is scheduled for release to the public in November.