‘Reality Bytes’ confronts reality TV’s portrayal of women

Media literacy and pop culture are center stage in “Reality Bytes,” an event that has been called the book club of reality TV shows. Hosted by the Women’s Resource Center, it incorporates the viewing of a reality show episode with discussion and free lunch.

Some students admit that reality television is an appealing genre.

“I just like mindless reality TV sometimes,” said advertising junior Debbie Osueke, who said she likes to watch reality TV as background noise while studying or as a break while watching shows with more complex plots.

While Osueke admits that the message in media matters, she says that few viewers look that far.

Literature graduate student Julie Taylor said she also enjoys reality TV. This week’s viewing of “Candidly Nicole” had her laughing with the rest of the club. However, she said she sees that its message about women has pros and cons.

“(Nicole’s) relationship with her sister and her female friends is really important, but (the show) definitely has some troubling issues with gender roles and what is acceptable for women,” Taylor said.

Program coordinator Malkia Hutchinson is trying to incorporate the spectrum of reality TV into “Reality Bytes.”

“There’s a desire to see how the others are, but also to connect in some way with someone you want to see succeed,” Hutchinson said.

Reality TV often teaches viewers about human relationships, even if they are portrayed in their extremes. There is little comparison, however, to the hard-hitting news stories that consumers have been inundated with lately, from the Ferguson shootings to the Texas gubernatorial race. “Reality Bytes” discusses these differences in media genres.

“People are not cognizant of the media that they are consuming,” Hutchinson said. “They are taking things as they are and not processing why they are being shown what they are.”

“Reality Bytes” takes place at 1:30 p.m. every Thursday in the Women’s Resource Center.

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