Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV (Paperback)
Nearly every night on every major network, unscripted” (but carefully crafted) reality” TV shows routinely glorify retrograde stereotypes that most people would assume got left behind 35 years ago. In Reality Bites Back, media critic Jennifer L. Pozner aims a critical, analytical lens at a trend most people dismiss as harmless fluff. She deconstructs reality TV’s twisted fairytales to demonstrate that far from being simple guilty pleasures,” these programs are actually guilty of fomenting gender-war ideology and significantly affecting the intellectual and political development of this generation’s young viewers. She lays out the cultural biases promoted by reality TV about gender, race, class, sexuality, and consumerism, and explores how those biases shape and reflect our cultural perceptions of who we are, what we’re valued for, and what we should view as our place” in society. Smart and informative, Reality Bites Back arms readers with the tools they need to understand and challenge the stereotypes reality TV reinforces and, ultimately, to demand accountability from the corporations responsible for this contemporary cultural attack on three decades of feminist progress.
“A witty, original, and very smart analysis of the dark side of reality TV. Pozner expertly reveals the toxicity of what many consider to be simple lightweight entertainment and arms readers with creative ways to resist and fight back. A serious scholarly work based on years of research, Reality Bites Back is also fast-paced and fascinating. You’ll never look at these shows the same way again!”
—Jean Kilbourne, ED.D., creator, Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series, and author, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel
“Jennifer Pozner’s Reality Bites Back is an extraordinary gift to critical media literature. Instead of hurling down invectives against popular culture from an insulated ivory tower, Pozner is a smart, snarky fellow traveler who offers stinging criticism and stunning insights peppered with just enough colloquial profanity to keep readers laughing and shaking our heads. Pozner reminds us that TV is never accidental, but directed to reinforce particular social lessons. This should be required reading for every American girl and woman.”
—Melissa Harris–Lacewell, Princeton University, Department of Politics and Center for African American Studies, MSNBC commentator, and columnist, The Nation
“Hooray! Here comes Pozner, ready to lay some reality on reality TV. Find out why these shows sell even when we don’t watch, and what they sell, thanks to producers who say “it’s a lot of fun to watch girls crying.” Fun, fresh and furious, Reality Bites Back is feminist media criticism at its best."
—Laura Flanders, host and founder, GRITtv, and author BUSHWOMEN