Group 1: Presentation of the ‘Real World’ Cast (San Diego Season 2004)

Group 1: Refer to the episode you watched of The Real World. What comments do you have about the ways in which each character is presented? Is there anything you notice about the cast as a whole? Feel free to mention an example from the episode you watched.

Before this class, I had never heard of the MTV show “The Real World”, so I decided to watch an episode from Season 14 which was filmed in San Diego, CA in 2004.  I watched episode 1 of this season and was quickly introduced to a wide variety of personalities from the eight individuals who lived in the house.  In regards to how they were presented, the shows editors definitely made an effort to pick very different personalities.  Each character is presented in a very broad generalized way, so as to appeal to a majority of audiences watching the show.  The entire cast as a whole was hand selected to be the most polarized and set to clash at times due to their opposite living styles/personalities.  Also, each character had a stereotypical bio in my opinion which also allowed more individuals identify with them on screen.  For example, a bio for one character reads, “Jamie is a second-generation Korean-American woman raised by traditional parents in San Francisco. She works two jobs to pay her tuition, but also enjoys partying.” (The Real World, 2004).  Or another which reads, “Brad is an Italian-American from Chicago who has just graduated from Lewis University with an accounting degree. He enjoys extreme sports and motorcycles. MTV.com describes him as a “hunky, fun-loving daredevil.” (The Real World, 2004).  Clearly, these are two individuals who have fairly stereotypical youth upbringings and are used to appeal to younger audiences watching them.

The creators of the show also put them in various situations which would encourage conversations on controversial topics.  Many of the outings are at bars or clubs with excessive drinking which exacerbates tensions between the house members.   It is interesting to see that many of the cast members bring up various topics: sexuality, race, religion, and more.  I think eventually living in a house together these topics come up, but producers opted for lots of alcohol and tense situations to garner more intense fighting.  This again achieved more audience views and better ratings for the show, so these scenarios were brought up as much as possible.   However, in only 30 minutes per episode viewers do not get an overall picture of what each individual is truly like.  Also, editors have a tremendous amount of power to only include certain footage of an individual to shape the audience perception of them to their liking.

Citations:

Article: The Real World: San Diego (2004). MTV. Film.

Picture 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_World:_San_Diego

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Character Portrayals on The Real World: New York

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I watched the debut episode of The Real World. The first season, aired in 1992, takes place in New York City. Right away, the Southerner Julia is portrayed as an ignorant, racist white girl from the south. The first comment that she makes which portrays her in that way is “Do you sell drugs? why do you have a beeper?” to the African American girl Heather. This starts a chain of discussion about racism. Kevin, in his confessional, says he is worried that he will start hearing comments like “do you play basketball?” and others alluding to stereotypes surrounding African Americans.

Later on in the episode, Julia, Heather, and Kevin go out for dinner in the city and talk about their perceptions of the race topic. Julia confesses that “they’re all really smart,” twice, and also says that they have strong opinions on everything you could think of. This is the first episode of the season. I do not believe that Julia can really make those assumptions about them so early on, and it is likely that she is attempting to come off as not-racist by saying these things.

Do you agree or disagree with Mark P. Orbe’s argument about how black men are portrayed in The Real World ?

I had never seen The Real World before and was famillar with the premise until this weeks’ reading. So I decided to watch the most recent episode, Season 30 episode 12: roses and wine. However, the most recent season is The Real World Skeletons which from my understanding has the added premise of bringing in cast members’ exes or past trials for the sake of drama. In just one episode I could easily define the stereotype character; there was the tomboy, the girl next door, the jersey boy, the bisexual girl, the naive southern belle, the trailer trash, and of course the angry black guy.  I thought it was a little surprising how obviously stereotyped the cast was and when I read Orbe’s article I realized this is a constant theme through out the seasons. After reading I also realized how much racial stereotyping I had not initially noticed.

In this particular episode the “skeleton” focused on a minor love triangle between three white cast members and the drama related with that. Despite the episode not being about Jason’s (the black guy) skeletons he becomes an active character. Jason has a daughter during the season and discusses how he resents his father for leaving him as a child. I found this was a really cheap perpetuation of a stereotype but was delighted when they showed that Jason was making a big effort to break this cycle and be there for his kid. I hoped that maybe the modern seasons were going to deviate somewhat from stereotyping him as violent because they showed him as a very nurturing father.

However, at the end of the episode Jason has a violent emotional explosion  when one of the white male costars complains about how nobody understands his hard upbringing. Exactly like Orbe described most outbursts from black males, “Most often, this comes from instances when the African American male cast members strive to educate the others on ‘what its like to be a Black man in America.'” (Orbe, 36). Jason was extremely offended by his white costar’s complaints about a difficult childhood and proceeded to lash out at him. The argument was completely unrelated to the drama of the episode and Jason had no idea how the other costar had actually grown up. He just immediately assumed that this white guy did not understand adversity.

So I think Orbe’s argument is correct, cast members are stereotyped and the black male follows the pattern of being the racially driven menace. It only took one episode for me to see this.

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