How Real is Reality TV?

Reality TV usually gets consumed by people looking to, ironically, tune out and veg out. It’s about watching messy drama unfold and be glad that you get to watch it happen, rather than being the one it happens to.

And the ironic thing about reality TV is that it gets deemed as fake.

Fake because it’s obvious the producers forced an incident to happen. Fake because the participants are only on there to gain followers on social media and to start their influencing career. Fake because editing causes us not to get to watch the whole story unfold.

However, I’d argue that consequences are real for the participants and the themes (yes, reality TV has themes) are taken from society itself.

A prime example is The Bachelor franchise.

In the course of a Bachelor/Bachelorette season, there is aways someone edited to be the “villain”. Within the show, the “villain” suffers the consequence of being sent home, however they also suffer the backlash from viewers on social media.

But you don’t even have to get the villain edit to be affected by the show on social media by fans of the show. You just have to be person of color. And if you’re a person of color who also gets a villain edit, well then the consequences are even worse.

Furthermore, The Bachelor explores themes we actually experience in society. Of course, the show shows us a journey to find love, so it covers themes about marriage and relationships. It explores the social constructs of what makes a “good” wife and what a heterosexual relationship should look like. There are ideas about what makes someone “ready” or “qualified” for marriage

But we can also learn about how the patriarchy and racism are harmful in society from The Bachelor. We watch how women get pitted against one another for the affections of one man. We see how people of color continue to get ignored and/or stereotyped.

The Bachelor franchise, or any reality show, doesn’t have the ability to solve all of society’s problems, but it does have a responsibility to make an effort to spread inclusive and progressive messages. Additionally, viewers tend to take the idea of reality TV being “fake” too far and treat participants like they’re not real people with real feelings.

And sure, what we see go down on these episodes of reality can be heavily produced. But these ideas are not just made up by the TV gods or syphoned from the void. TV is a reflection of society and society likes to watch TV and reenact what it sees. It’s been proven that it directly affects those who go on the show. On a broader scope, it will, and does affect the rest of us.

So how real is reality TV? It’s pretty real, in my opinion.

Horror is as What Society Does

In the spirit of Halloween, on Saturday I watched It: Chapter 2. I had been meaning to see it, since I saw It: Chapter 1. Plus, I read the book about 6-7 years ago and wanted to see how the adaptation went.

I like to dive into a horror film every once in a while, especially if it’s been well received. I think horror should be taken more seriously as a genre than it has been historically because horror, once you get past the jump scares, is most notably a commentary of what’s happening in our society. Probably more-so than dramas or historical films. (Here’s an interesting argument for The Purge franchise, one I haven’t seen but I’ve heard the plot.)

But because it’s such a specific genre, like fantasy and sci-fi, it doesn’t get much recognition by the Academy Awards.

If you haven’t read It, Stephen King goes back and forth between the main characters (their group is called the Losers) as kids, meeting and fighting It for the first time, and as adults, when It awakes again and they come together and kill it for good.

In the most recent adaptation, the book is split into two movies: Chapter 1 for when they’re kids, and Chapter 2 for when they’re adults.

Part of the mythology about It that you learn as you read/watch, is that It comes to life every 27 years. After it wreaks havoc in Derry, feeding on the children, it goes away to sleep. Remarkably, the town forgets the tragedies it went through and write them off as some other cause or find someone to blame.

In Chapter 2, we find that the Losers have moved away from Derry and they’re living their own lives. When they are brought back together, most of them can’t remember what happened the summer they were tormented by It.

Mike, the only one who didn’t leave Derry, is also the only one who remembers what they went through and has to remind them. By keeping tabs on what was happening in the town, he was the one who recognized that It was back 27 years later and rounded up the group again so they could fight and kill it, once and for all.

This phenomena of Derry residents forgetting the tragedies that happened in their town can be related to how we’ve been dealing with racism in America for the past 400 years and how we shift our focus towards and away from systemic racism every time an egregious killing happens.

The story of another Black person being killed by police comes and goes on our news feeds and our TVs. We are shocked again and again by how deeply rooted racism is in our country.

We’re realizing that our thoughts and prayers aren’t going to cut it if there’s going to be real change towards driving out systemic racism and white supremacy. It’s been great to see people educating themselves, protesting, donating to causes, and spreading the word.

But we can’t stop.

We cannot become complacent. Our attention has to be focused on ending white supremacy at all times.

We have to call racism out for what it is, just like the Losers called out It for what it is. That’s how they were able to defeat it. (Sorry, spoiler alert.)

What’s scary is it’s easy to forget that racism is happening if it’s not happening to you or people you know.

Is it a coincidence that the only person of the Losers Group who remembered everything that went down with It is also Black? And that the ones who forgot what happened, who were able to leave and move on with their lives, where white?

Hmm… I think only Stephen King can answer that one for us.



Why is Being “Colorblind” Harmful?

First, where does the term “colorblind” come from?

It was first used in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, in Justice Harlan’s dissent.

He argued that our “constitution is colorblind”, intending not to reject racial separation or segregation – or even prevailing notions of White racial superiority – but to challenge differential racial treatment. (63)

How is it used now?

White judicial and ideological systems use colorblindness to “mean that the recognition of race at all is a discriminatory and unconstitutional act”. (63)

Why is it harmful?

“Colorblind advocates often mobilize a superficial class analysis to suggest class organizes society and has supplanted race as a category of concern.” (64)

“The racist element of our national class system is erased and replaced with a neutral, non structural understanding of poverty. Meritocracy, the American Dream, and the achievement ideology are all reified by the colorblind attention to class.” (64)

So basically, it takes racism out of the equation when trying to solve poverty, or any other issue, for that matter. It’s blaming the class system, and taking it away from the true cause, systematic racism.

Of course, the color of one’s skin is not a determining factor of race/ethnicity.

But Colorblindness erases what makes the cultures that we come from different and beautiful.

It whitewashes all of that out.

It gives an out to not be diverse and ignores intersectionality which gives a voice to all different kinds of viewpoints and experiences.

Acknowledging that everyone has a different experience in this world that’s based on the color of their skin/sexuality/gender/ethnicity/etc. will allow us to identify and make changes to inequality.

But it will also help us see that we are all one spirit and celebrate what amazing human beings we are!

Quotes from Racism, Public Schooling, and the Entrenchment of White Supremacy by Sabina E. Vaught

Destroying Racism

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.

The news has been making me feel heavy lately. And what’s sad is that this isn’t even new. The word “news” implies that this is something new happening right now. But yet, this isn’t new at all.

A moment keeps coming back to me as I take in what’s happening (and happened) to our Black brothers and sisters.

I was in my junior year of high school, taking U.S. History. We were in the midst of learning about J.F.K and the Civil Rights movement. At the present, we were on the brink of electing our first Black president.

Our teacher posed a question to our class. She asked something on the lines of, should Kennedy have passed the Civil Rights Act, with his re-election coming soon? She then told us to go to one side of the room if yes, the other side if no.

I remember thinking right away, well heck yeah, of course! Black people have suffered through so much, before and after they were emancipated. Clearly, being freed from slavery wasn’t enough for them to be seen as equal in this country. Nothing was being done to try to help this group of people. And if Kennedy was as progressive as history made him out to be, this was his duty.

So I sat where I was, because the side of the room I was on was the side of yes, Kennedy should have worked on passing the Civil Right Act.

And then I watched my class move around me… to the other side of the room. Every. Single. One of them. I am not kidding.

So naturally, with me the only voice to the side I chose, our teacher asked me why I had chosen yes. And I explained exactly what I said above. Black people have waited long enough, it’s time. And if he’s worried about losing votes from white people, well there’s Black people to vote for him now (in my ideal mind back then).

She then turned to the other side of the room and asked them why they said no.

And the reason, I believe, is why it’s so hard for our country to be progressive. They said that Kennedy had to think about his voters. He already had the majority of the nation on his side, why rock the boat?

Rock the boat for who, exactly??? White people.

Why are any laws that benefit POC or any kind of minority deflected and unsupported. To keep white people happy. To keep them comfortable. To keep them feeling validated.

And after hundreds of years of validating only one side, one race, can you imagine what that can do to the people who have been belittled, dehumanized, deemed less than, for the same amount of time?

Now, I’m not happy that these riots are going on. I’m sad. I’m scared. I don’t think violence is ever an answer.

But as I see it, these riots that are happening is the same thing as when an abused and beaten animal lashes out. It’s enternalized so much violence within itself, it has no other way. Violence is the only way it knows how to protect itself.

And some are saying, “riots are no way to get things done, to make things better, to have other people come to your side and support you”.

People of color have tried every which way throughout history to get their voice heard. To show they are human, to show that they deserve to be treated as a human, with respect.

There have been protests, both violent and peaceful. Nothing.

There have been laws enacted that tells us we need to treat others with respect. Nothing.

There have been those who run for different offices of this country, trying to bring the voice of their people into the very institution that silences them. Nothing.

Like, we’ve had a Black president, a thoughtful, intelligent, patient man, who people still think of as being inhuman.

I’m frustrated.

I’ve been taking in everything that’s been happening and I can feel my body get hot and shaky and my heart beats faster and all these thoughts fly through my brain and it takes all of my energy to find my breath, and focus on that, to stay calm, to not use this energy in my body for negative actions, to write this post with a focus on writing my truth and not with hatred.

For those of you who are feeling how I’m feeling, let’s take this energy and put it towards educating ourselves. Education leads to understanding and understanding leads to love and love is the only thing that can destroy racism.

We live in a world where we have knowledge at our fingertips. Let’s work on thinking critically about what we see and hear. Let’s look inside ourselves and challenge our beliefs. There will be times when we feel uncomfortable, but that’s when we grow. And let’s vote.

I hope with all my heart that our country can find peace and balance. I get that, at this moment, we are overwhelmed with negativity. But peace shows itself here and there, like bright lights in the darkness.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.


If you need a call to action, DONATE!! Anything you can. A lot of us are not doing well during the COVID-19 crisis but if you are, please think about donating to a cause.

You think the only people who are people

Are the people who look and think like you

But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger

You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.

– “Colors of the Wind”, Pocahontas

George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice

P.S. I highly recommend this video of thoughts by Trevor Noah. I like to listen to what he says because he always comes from a place of looking at the big picture and reflection. It challenges me to think like that, to see all points of view.