Its more than just films that project a narrow image of human identity. Television is a culprit as well. There are many areas which one could point out about how television gets it so wrong but if we look just at one area of television, reality shows, we see the portray of individuals as hedonistic, competitive and self-centered. Reality shows can be specifically singled out because they are supposed to represent real individuals. While characters that have been created for scripted shows will largely reflect popularly held notions and beliefs, at least they can hide behind the idea that it is a fictional person created in the writers room. Reality television is arguably not always based in reality but its initial selling point was the idea of ordinary people as entertainment. Yet the type of people that are chosen and the identities that are played up rely on the basest elements of human nature. Not only are these negative portrayals highlighted on the show but they are also practically praised as being positive. Those who have the most outrageous behavior are rewarded either through winning or becoming famous, reinforcing this type of behavior. Winning is given the utmost importance and therefore whatever it takes to win is understandable. This is especially the case in shows like Survivor that are just about competition and voting people out but you can see it in shows that are supposed to be based on talent as well like Top Chef or Project Runway. Competition is considered to be the means through which to bring out someone’s best work. Yet, as can usually be seen on these shows, competition brings out people’s worst side. Just watch the video below for proof.
Yet television doesn’t always get it wrong. A recent video from Sesame Street highlights how this medium can be used to put forward the idea of the importance of accepting yourself just the way you are, a rare message reflected in the media.