Wednesday, April 20, 2011

tabloid tv

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Tabloid TV

What exactly is tabloid television? Tabloid television has many different formats, but generally, “stories about sex, crime, drugs and alcohol drive the leading syndicated tabloid TV news programs.” ( The common question asked about these shows is; does tabloid television fabricate stories, or play a part in influencing characters to create better shows? In addition, how does this form of television reflect, influence, and shape American society? The answers to these questions are quite simple. Tabloid television reflects American society by presenting viewers with a glimpse into life styles they, the viewers, are not familiar with.

After reading numerous articles and watching numerous shows, I have realized that what Jib Fellows said in “Why viewers watch” was correct. He stated that tabloid television brings people together; it acts in a way as a unifier. It is heard in everyday conversations, hey did you see Cops last night? It starts conversation and links two people together on a common level. Whether it is men, women, adults, kids, rich, or poor, they all still watch these shows and talk to one another about what they have seen. That is another reason why people watch-to get the feeling that their lives are better. However, Scott Kirkham thinks differently, saying

They appeal to the baser instinct in all of us that tells us that if we are not as messed up as these people on television, we must be pretty O.K. WRONG! We are worse off than these people because we take a perverse pleasure in watching the pain and suffering, or just the downright depravity of others (

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Although what Kirkham says is true, tabloid television does not segregate between social levels. Tabloid television makes its appeal to everyone, even the way the shows are taped. With Cops, for example, by taping in the passenger seat, it makes the viewer feel like they are there watching a belligerent drunk white male yell at his wife.

Tabloid television tells stories about people’s tragedies, frustrations, and triumphs; although, it is said that tabloid television will milk stories or change them to better interest the viewer. The Jerry Springer Show is one show that’s said to do this. Critics’ say that they instruct guests to fight or argue to enhance story lines, therefore, making the show more appealing to viewers. On the other hand, the show Cops does not really milk the stories since the stories are about human frustrations and the good guys prevailing. The way the police officers act however is something to question. I feel that the show does not actually portray officers. From my experiences with officers, policeman on Cops seem to be more violent and cocky then ordinary police officers. For example, not every traffic stop results in an altercation. It is a rarity to witness an elderly man driving ninety down the highway to evade a police officer.

Inaccurate portrayals are not the only aspect of tabloid television. Programs like Cops also expose viewers to lifestyles that they would otherwise not be presented with in their life. The people on the show are those who are in trouble with the law; typically, these are people that fall at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. In addition, from taking notes on Cops, I noticed that either white or black males are shown on the program, not very many females. These males usually are not from the upper or middle class either, but from the bottom. From watching Cops, a good point of tabloid television is noticed; that is, it gives people from different social areas an exposure to numerous aspects of American society.

If there were not tabloid television shows, like Cops, the world would almost be like the movie “Pleasantville”. In the movie everything is black and white, what people now a days see as the ideal life. The basketball team always won, there was no crime, everyone knew everyone, and families would eat around the table and talk. As the movie goes on things start to change. As the community learns new things from these two outsiders, color starts to appear to the inhabitants. Things start to change such as the basketball team loses and eventually everything goes to color. This relates to tabloid television by that, without tabloid television people would be naive to things that happen in the world and life would almost be like what happened in “Pleasantville”. People would not see different life styles of American society and be blind to what is really happening in the world today. Hence, the absence of tabloid television would create greater separation between the different social classes of American society today.

Tabloid television has a factor in what creates and what happens in American society today. It informs viewers on what is really happening in the world and gives them information that they would not normally have. People intern take this information and bond with others by sharing what they have seen and heard. By doing this they relate better with the person they are talking to. Although tabloid television may milk or alter stories it still serves the point of informing people on different aspects of American society.

Hartnett, Tara. “Tabloid TV Is Bad News For Kids.” 0 Nov. 00 http//

Fellows, Jib. “Why Viewers Watch.” Writing the World. Eds. Charles R Cooper and Susan MacDonald. New York Bedford/St. Martin’s, 000. 41-4

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