Although the women of this show campaign, volunteer, and fund raiser for a umber of charities that empower women, the show overall casts women as a subordinate, unintelligent and a weak species. Within the opening scene of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the women divulge a number of shocking “one liners”. These opening lines introduce us to the characters, as well as the overall message of the show. Example of these one liners are “It may look like I have it all, but want more” and “It’s time for me to come out of my husband’s shadow and shine. These opening one liners send a negative message to audiences about money, gender roles, and fame. In the article, “The Influence of Television on children’s Gender Role and Colonization,” the author writes about the negative influence television, especially women in television, have on young children and their attitudes about race and gender. The author states, “Children who witness female characters on television who are passive, indecisive, and subordinate to men, and who see this reinforced by their environment, will likely believe this is the appropriate way for females to behave. Witt, 322)” Unfortunately, such negative characteristics of women are often displayed by the characters f The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Recent episodes depict the trials and tribulations of wealthy women in Beverly Hills as Adrienne and Lisa balance their work lives with their personal lives, Kim and Kyle deal with sisterly issues, Camille and Brands work through being newly single, and Taylor struggles with marital issues and (alleged) domestic abuse.
This season has been like watching a train wreck, you can’t look away even when you know a train wreck has already happened and that it will be ugly. The news had already reported that Taylor husband committed suicide. On the one hand, I didn’t want to see it at all but it has been fascinating to see how they’ve edited the stories to skirt the issue, yet also suggest factors that might have led to it. In season two of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, it is made apparent that cast member Taylor Armstrong is being physically abused by her husband Russell.
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While there had been many warning signs leading up to this revelation, and an apparent ten year history of abuse, the domestic violence was not brought to light until the end of season two’0. However, the Bravo Network repeatedly played a clip on commercials leading up to the episode in which Camille addresses Taylor and says “We’ve been protecting you. Because we don’t say that he hits you. Because we don’t say that he broke your jaw. Or that he beat you and he hits you. We don’t say that, but now we said it. The exploitation of this dramatic, life changing moment in which Taylor “friends” confront her about the domestic violence in her marriage shows the ruthlessness of networks. Jennifer Poster addresses such violence against women displayed on reality television as well as acknowledges the irresponsibility of the networks in her book. She writes, ‘Yet even when acts f physical abuse do make it to the screen, they’re not treated as seriously inappropriate- they’re simply used as a promotional device. 21 9)” By replaying this scene for commercials and coming attractions, the Bravo network is sending a message that the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims is less important than ratings and money Taylor Armstrong public struggle with domestic violence has brought light to the topic, which could potentially encourage other victims to seek help. Research has shown that many women who suffer from physical abuse do tot leave their abuser mostly out of fear (Edmondson-Nelson, 83). Taylor speaks on camera about her reasons for leaving Russell, which includes her fear of raising and providing for her daughter alone.
Unfortunately, to some viewers this enforces the idea that women are weak. Conflict theorists would feel this type of crime, and the laws governing them, are products of a struggle for power and control. Powerful individuals and groups make the laws, and those laws are enforced to outlaw any behavior that threatens their interests. The poor and powerless are much more likely to be arrested and invoiced for serious crimes such domestic violence, than the more powerful and wealthy are. The crime rate among the poor is so high because of a lack of opportunities meant to improve their economic status and living conditions.
The poor also lack education, skills, and the Strong support systems that are necessary for individuals to become productive, valued members of society. However the The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are completely opposite and yet this type of behavior is exploited on television. Tailor’s charity work for survivors of domestic abuse was mentioned, but after she was “touted” as an abused spouse, there was no other reference to domestic abuse as a social problem. Critiques of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills consider the abundance of plastic surgery to send negative messages to audiences about the idea of beauty.
In one episode, the cast members gather at Dry. Paul Massifs (husband of cast member Adrienne Mallow) office for plastic surgery. The cast members are open about their fillers, Boots, breast implants and other plastic surgery procedures. This openness and acceptance of the plastic surgery culture sends messages such s looks are most important, beauty can be bought, and one cannot age gracefully. Recent research has shown that many people seeking plastic surgery now have been influenced by media. Although there is evidence that perceptions of attractiveness are guided by innate preferences for symmetry’ and evolutionarily adaptive features (e. G. , small waist-to-hip ratios among women) there is also substantial evidence that social experience – including media experiences -contribute significantly to perceptions of attractiveness. (Marker, 1 65)” A recent study found that fifty-seven percent of people achieving plastic surgery for the first time were considered to be “high intensity’ viewers of plastic surgery reality television (Crocket, 2007).
Statistics such as this show how the messages of reality television greatly impact viewers. When viewers watch a show featuring six forty and fifty something mothers who have the body and face of a women in their twenties, they can be encouraged to take measures to look younger themselves. Furthermore, the acceptance and nonchalant attitude towards plastic surgery expressed on The Real Housewives encourages viewers to take more drastic measures to alter their appearance. On the surface, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is a show about friendship, relationships, and glamour.
However, the underlying messages of the show include the weakness of women, the obsession with beauty, and the importance of gender roles. Until the Housewives see that they are negatively impacted by our society socially constructed gender hierarchy, they are not likely to fight for resolving injustice. Instead, they are likely to keep getting cosmetic surgery, shop and eat out, and host parties while they talk about their friends and acquaintances that have personal problems with money or legislations. This might be great drama??and great ratings??but it will not create social change.