Jenn Pozner and Melissa Harris-Perry’s class talk reality TV

Yesterday Melissa Harris-Perry’s Tulane class had a Twitter chat with Jenn Pozner about reality TV and the messages it’s selling us about race, gender, class, our bodies and sexualities, inspired by Pozner’s book Reality Bites Back. Zerlina dropped knowledge in the chat as well.

You can read the whole conversation at the hashtag #RealityBitesBack. Here’s few highlights:

Victoria’s Secret:

@MHarrisPerry: My mouth is agape as student describes to me the opinion that Victoria Secret models are heavy.

@JennPozner: Victoria Secret fashion show? An advertiser’s wet dream. Literally. Hour long product placement
Clothing size and body image:
@amymmmmmkay: every time a woman has curves, she’s labeled as #exotic. it’s only okay to be thick if you’re not white?
@cannon_laura:  Just learned that size six could be considered plus size. Whaaattt?
@MHarrisPerry Referencing #RealityBitesBack students thinking abt assumption that women must be super attractive & men can be average: news, sitcoms, etc

@JennPozner: decades of studies of print&broadcast advertising prove engaging w/ads makes women feel bad about bodies

@GoddessJaz This #RealityBitesBack discussion is important! My 8 yo goddaughter told me a size 6ish animated character was fat. Really upsetting!
Reality Shows:
@ZerlinaMaxwell Kardashian wedding was a sham produced to make money off idea of “fairytail romance”
@MHarrisPerry We are perhaps coming to consensus that Top Chef is not evil & that Miss America is less evil than The Bachelor.
Media Literacy:
@JennPozner Can always find 1 or 2 exceptions w/media trends. #MediaLiteracy requires big picture content analysis+ economic analysis.
@ZerlinaMaxwell Now would be a good time to say that reality teevee is FAKE. It’s scripted just like a drama. Just so we’re clear.
@MHarrisPerry @jennpozner Can you give us one ACTION ITEM for media literacy. What should we do?
@JennPozner YES! ALWAYS QUESTION. Core to #medialiteracy: ask who has created the narrative; who profits from it; who glamorized & who excluded in it. #Medialiteracy = ACTIVE engagement w/media. Banish the phrase “mindless entertainment” RESOURCES: bit.ly/bscc7J

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/sapadu/ Jacqueline Hentzen

    On a similar note, guess what news item was forwarded to me by a friend on facebook?

    A guy commenting on a Victoria’s Secret ad. Apparently, it’s disturbing, even to men, that women are so skinny in these things. (Though, really, it sucks that it takes a guy being disturbed to make the trend start to reverse.)