DOES THIS ACCURATELY DEFINE US? BLACK AUDIENCE MEMBERS’ VIEWS ON AFRICAN AMERICAN REALITY TELEVISION
Ponder, Erica Michelle
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As reality television has evolved over time, the representation of African Americans in the popular genre has as well. This paper discusses the changes in these representations and how certain reality programs that are centered around Black culture affect their audiences. Using media reception studies and insight from cultivation theory, I conducted qualitative research through focus groups with black audience members who watch the popular reality television programs Love and Hip Hop, Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Married to Medicine. Focus groups reported that reality television featuring black cast members are highly enjoyable but would like to see more positive interactions and situations. Focus groups reported using reality television as a basis for how not to behave in certain social situations. This work sheds light on the history of Blacks on reality television and in the media, the history and growth of reality television, and the role that reality television plays in black viewers’ lives today.
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