Ally's Blog

Housewife or Hopeful?

Posted on: June 5, 2011

“We are immersed from cradle to grave in a media and consumer society and thus it is important to learn how to understand, interpret, and criticize its meanings and messages,” said Douglas Kellner in his “Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, and Media Culture” article.

Kellner continued to say, “Media images help shape our view of the world and our deepest values: what we consider good or bad, positive or negative, moral or evil.”

Are you a consumer or the consumed?

I am finally a senior at Towson University, majoring in public relations, minoring in communication studies, and working toward a certificate in marketing.

My communication minor led me to a class called Media Criticism.

This class is intended to encourage students to identify, distinguish between, and apply various media criticism theories and methods used in media criticism nad attain greater competence in the practice of reviewing, critiquing and interpreting media content, production and consumption.

From what I have learned in class, media criticism is simply a systematic study of media which helps media consumers to think seriously about their consumption habits and how media shapes all aspects of their lives, and develop skills in media literacy.

Kellner wrote “critical media literacy is an important resource for individuals and citizens in learning how to cope with a seductive cultural environment.  Learning how to read, criticize, and resist socio-cultural manipulation can help empower oneself in relation to dominant forms of media and culture.

More simply put, consumers should be able to read and critique the media they are consuming, that way they are able to distinguish between fiction and reality because media has a strong influential power.

It is important to think critically about the media because the media we consume can give us a warped sense of our culture and values.

Television consumption statistics are very eye-opening and with so many people consuming media so often, we should know how to analyze what we see.

The mass media today shapes our culture and defines our social classes.  When Britain began studying culture, they found a focus on social structure.  Then, when the U.S. adopted this practice, they were interested in the power of the audience.  That doesn’t mean that people in America do not look upon the media as a source of social status. People walk, talk, dress, and act a specific way because of their culture.

The OC housewives have accepted the affairs and divorces that come with their luxurious lifestyles.

A television “text,” or program, that I think best demonstrates how our perceptions, values, and culture are influenced by television is Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” series.  This “text” follows multiple women from different cities in their supposed everyday lives.

In particular, I think “The Real Housewives of Orange County” leads people to believe that they can act just like  these flawless, bleach blondes, when unfortunately many people are not able to lead such a life.

In one episode, Alexis, a God-fearing housewife devoted to her husband and children stated that they live in an area where most married couples cheat on each other and most marriages end in divorce.

This sends a message to viewers that an affair is normal and accepted in that area, and that marriage is not valued.  Most viewers are unable to relate to these women but feel as though they are living vicariously through their rich, drama-filled lives.

These housewives are accustomed to their wealthy lifestyles and refuse to let anything disrupt their families and fortunes.

Another example comes from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”  This “text” gives female viewers in particular the perception that it easy to live in a mansion, dress to the nines on a daily basis, and never work a day in your life.

Housewife Teresa’s world was turned upside down when the economy crashed.  She is now writing cookbooks and working with her husband to make money for their family.  She refuses to give up her costly lifestyle, although many people today are struggling with their finances as well but are forced to change their purchasing and living habits.

I find the concept of media criticism interesting because most of the time people watch television as an escape from reality and as down time, they want to unwind and not have to think about the media they are consuming.  This  makes it easy for producers of the “texts” to create media which would influence society and culture.

I hope to learn more about the tactics used during the production of the “texts” because the producers are the masterminds behind influencing our culture.

If you are interested in reading more about media criticism check out this website.


2 Responses to "Housewife or Hopeful?"

Ally, it was a great idea to start off with a quote from. As a reader it immediately gains my interest because I want to know who it was from. You state that it is important to think about media because the media “can give us a warped sense of our culture and values.” I would have liked to see you elaborate further on exactly what you mean by “warped sense of our culture and values” by giving an example. I agree that most viewers are unable to relate to the lifestyles the women of “The Real Housewives” franchise lead but I would push back that viewership is solely based on wanting to live that type of lifestyle. I think that envy is also an important factor. I would say that when viewers see that the “Housewives” are flawed they feel better about their own lives. If you had included a clip from one of those shows (possibly the table flipping incident from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”) it would have taken your blog over the top. I found your links to be very helpful to find further information. Overall you did a terrific job on this blog post.

[…] I chose Ally’s 1st blog about “The Real Housewives” […]

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