Criticizing and analyzing reality TV and celeb life draws interest of WRC


The raunch culture of reality TV and celebrity life draws the attention of many, but it drew the attention of the NIU Women’s Resource Center (WRC) on Wednesday night.

In a group discussion titled “Exposed: Celebrity & Raunch Culture Unveiled,” students gathered at the WRC to criticize and analyze the effects of reality TV and celebrity life.

“We wanted to talk about why people follow this sort of culture and why does it have such a prominence as it does when people could be following other things,” said Jamie Bolar, who created the program and facilitated discussion.

The discussion began with each student choosing a picture of a celebrity hanging on the wall. But, the faces of each celebrity were blacked out with a marker. Each student then had to try and identify the person based off their body shape, clothing and hair style. Most students were able to recognize the celebrities.

The group went on to address how women are portrayed in reality TV. Many expressed disgust for shows like “Flavor of Love,” and even admiration for shows like “America’s Next Top Model,” but each of the students shared the feeling that shows like these affect viewers.

“People talk about things that happen on episodes of reality TV, but they don’t really talk about the implications it has on life and society,” said Emily Anderson, a junior special education major.

Another aspect of the discussion was how the culture presented drug and alcohol use. Abuse is sometimes glorified or addressed unrealistically, like in “Celebrity Rehab,” or it is brought to the public’s concern through the deaths celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith and Heath Ledger.

Michael Johns from the NIU Health Enhancement Center was on hand to promote awareness of alcohol and drug abuse and safety measures against being taken advantage of while intoxicated. Johns cited certain cases such as when “Girls Gone Wild” came to the former Bar One on Lincoln Highway, and some sex offenses that have occurred in fraternities during the past years.

But even with all the objectionable content of this raunch culture, most of the students walked away from the discussion still seeing it as entertainment and a means of laughing at celebrity antics.

“It’s just fun to look at, you know, being in school and being stressed out a lot. It’s just kind of nice to see the Web sites to get a laugh at what other people are doing,” said Monica Szymczak, a graduate assistant who helped with the night’s program.