Women in Reality Television – an Australian survey

If you are a woman between the ages of 18-34, an Australian resident, and would like to participate in a unique study on women in reality television, please click on the link below, and answer the questions on the questionnaire. The purpose of this research study is to examine the representations of women in reality television, using case study examples from Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Being Lara Bingle and The Shire.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/29XGX8G

If you would like more information, please email Deakin University student researcher, Evelyn Jowett at ejowett@deakin.edu.au Thank you for your time!

BeingLaraBinglepromopic

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UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has participated in the survey. The survey is now closed and the results will be published soon.

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Sports and Byronic Bad Boys

Sports, particularly rugby and football, are full of the archetypal ‘Byronic Bad Boys.’ Perhaps because in sports, it actually is considered a positive thing to be as aggressive and violent as possible. According to psychologist Mitch Byrne, they are actually rewarded for this behaviour, with adulation and money. But where things really start to get dangerous is when you combine this ‘pent-up aggression,’ with women who have been culturally raised to find the ‘Bad Boy’ attractive.

Just like with the regular ‘bad boy,’ they range in being emotionally abusive to physically abusive. Some act like the Byronic ‘cad,’ having numerous affairs. For example, golfer Tiger Woods and soccer player David Beckham.

Tiger Woods

David Beckham

And some seem to revel in their ‘bad boy’ status, like former footballer Ben Cousins, who recently had a whole documentary series on Channel 7, devoted to exploring his many bad habits.

Nevertheless,  it’s the more serious assault allegations concerning some footballers and rugby players that  are a major concern. This is when those romantic fantasies about the ‘bad boy’ can descend into a tragic nightmare in real life.

However, it is never too late for women to completely reject the ‘Bad Boy Syndrome.’ Especially when women have made great strides in education and career. If women can learn to put their foot down, and say, “No, I will not accept this abusive behaviour,” then this will be major progress in the right direction.

I recently spoke to Dr Deb Waterhouse-Watson, lecturer in English at Monash University. She speciaises in researching assault allegations involving footballers.

She said, “It doesn’t matter if women are attracted to the ‘Bad Boy,’ as we can’t judge them for their personal preferences. If they are attracted to a particular person, it doesn’t mean that the men are absolved of all responsibility. What matters is who’s responsible for who. No matter who you’re attracted to it, you always have the right to say, ‘No.’.”

I agree. I think that too often, these ‘Bad Boys’ quite literally get away with horrendous acts of abuse, and many people still say, ‘Oh, but he’s so handsome,’ as if their outer image disguises the ugliness beneath.

It would be wonderful if sports could transform, and support women in professional basketball, football, rugby and soccer. If women could have a stronger, more powerful image, and not always be forced into the role of tragic victims.

Perhaps if society as a whole begins to reject the Bad Boys and accept the good guys, whether it’s in fiction or reality, then women, collectively, will have much more emotionally happy lives, and humankind will actually evolve, rather than reverting into some brutish mentality.

Feminism has achieved many things. It has allowed women to pursue their dreams, concerning education and career. However, when it comes to this Byronic character, who crops up time and time again in contemporary society, it is almost like we’re being catapulted back in time. However, there is always hope for the future. And many women around the world are fighting for causes around the world. So, we can take heart in the fact that, just like the old Buddhist teaching says, “The only thing constant is change.”

Here’s a slideshow of women protesting around the world:

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Twilight and the Byronic Bad Boy

Yes, it was inevitable it would come to this. Apparently, the author of the ‘vampire romance’ ‘Twilight‘ series, Stephenie Meyer, claimed she named the lead ‘romantic’ vampire Edward Cullen after Edward Rochester in ‘Jane Eyre.’

On her website, Stephenie Meyer says, “For Edward, I wanted a name that had once been very romantic, but had fallen out of use (See: Edward Rochester…).”

The romantic vampire Bad Boy in Twilight is also almost a direct descendant of the Byron-inspired ‘The Vampyre,’ – combined with Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights.’

Edward Cullen and Bella Swan

Indeed, ‘Wuthering Heights’ is quite literally thrown around the ‘Twilight’ books, particularly in ‘Twilight’ and ‘Eclipse.’ In fact, there are so many ‘Wuthering Heights’ references in the ‘Twilight’ series, that book publisher HarperCollins has released an edition of the 1847 novel, with a similar cover to the ‘Twilight’ book,’ plus the words, ‘Bella & Edward’s Favourite Book,’ and ‘Love Never Dies.’

I suspect that Stephenie Meyer has also borrowed liberally from the actual plot, as well, as, just like Cathy Linton and Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights,’ Bella Swan and Edward Cullen have to die to be together in immortality.

Again, this is another worrying element of Romantic fiction, that not only are dangerous, Byronic Bad Boys attractive, but that even if it leads to them quite literally killing the girl, that this is a ‘happy ending.’

In reality, this is really domestic violence. Which is why it is so important for young women to realise that Bad Boys are probably the last thing girls need in their lives. Certainly, the unpublished, unfinished manuscript for ‘Midnight Sun’, which details the book ‘Twilight‘ through Edward Cullen’s perspective, reveals that Edward seriously considered killing Bella when they first met – not quite the romantic ‘love at first sight’ story after all.

However, Bella  quite literally pleads with Edward Cullen to ‘turn her into a vampire,’ that is for him to kill her.

Meanwhile, there are numerous, detailed descriptions as to how Edward is ‘so handsome’ – he literally glitters like a marbled rock. Thus, it seems he can ‘get away with murder’ (although he only eats animals now, he once used to kill humans), because of his ‘angelic appearance.’

Now, if the second part to the book saga, ‘New Moon,’ is anything to go by, it was about cruel abandonment, with Edward deserting Bella completely, to the point that Bella thought nothing of literally ‘jumping off a cliff,’ to be so close to a fatal situation  that she could see apparitions of his face.

However, it is in ‘Breaking Dawn‘ where the allusions to domestic violence are clearly spelt out. On their honeymoon, when they ‘consummate’ their relationship, Bella is left with bruises all over her body. Edward chastises himself, quite accurately, for being a ‘monster.’

However, Bella,  thinks it’s all ‘wonderful,’ and ‘perfect.’  The worst thing though, is when she dies in childbirth, after the half-vampire, half-human Renesmee has to be ripped out of her stomach by Edward, leaving her to be ‘re-born’ as a vampire.

Here’s a ‘fan trailer,’ of what what the ‘Breaking Dawn’ film may look like:

What sort of message is this saying to young girls? That you should ‘give into temptation’ (‘bite the forbidden fruit’) and go for the Bad Boy who is potentially lethal? Certainly, it really proves that that mad, bad Lord Byron’s spirit is alive and well in pop culture.

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The Hills and the Byronic Bad Boy archetype

Let’s take a sojourn into popular culture with the Hollywood reality TV show, ‘The Hills.’ This popular TV series, which drew to a conclusion this year, had ‘bad boys’ all over it.

Namely, Spencer Pratt, Brody JennerJason Wahler, Justin Bobby, and Jay Lyon.

Spencer Pratt

Brody Jenner

 

 

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Jason Wahler

And yet, paradoxically, it was also brimming full of exuberant, intelligent and ambitious young women. Author and fashion designer Lauren Conrad, fashion designer Whitney Port, PR executive Heidi Montag, and music PR practitioner Audrina Patridge.

Lauren Conrad

Heidi Montag

What all these otherwise tremendously successful (career-wise) girls had in common was  – a love of the Byronic Bad Boy. Lauren Conrad was with Jason Wahler, who proceeded to drive her to distraction, with his constant flirting with other girls and cold, aloof behaviour. He even demanded that she should choose to stay at his  ‘beach-house’ for one summer holiday, instead of taking a fashion internship in Paris, which would have furthered her blossoming career.

Then, it’s the ongoing saga that is Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, or as the gossip rumour-mill describes them, ‘Speidi.’ Spencer Pratt, along with the ‘playboy’ bad boy Brody Jenner had actually speculated on Heidi and Lauren right from the beginning, when they watched the first season of The Hills on MTV.

They already strategically connived to ‘sweep these girls off their feet,’ just so they could appear in a reality TV show. And it worked, Heidi fell for Spencer, and Lauren fell for Brody. But oh, how it all fell apart.

However this time, it was Lauren who was heartbroken that her friend, Jen Bunney, also fell under the spell of Brody. Shortly after, when Lauren tried to tell Heidi that Spencer was flirting with other girls and that he was terrible, Heidi chose Spencer over her.

Thus, Lauren lost her former best friend Heidi to the bad boy Spencer, and was forced to seek refuge with her other friends, Whitney Port, Audrina Patridge and Lo Bosworth.

Whitney Port                                Audrina Patridge                          Lo Bosworth

Meanwhile, Audrina was, in Season Two, starting an epic battle with another Byronic Bad Boy, Justin Bobby. We are first introduced to this character when Audrina casually asks Lauren, “Did I ever tell you about Justin?” After Audrina describes his character, Lauren’s face lights up and says, “You mean, the one who abandoned you in Vegas?” And so began a torturous one-off ‘relationship’ that lasted almost five years.

Justin Bobby

However, Lauren and Audrina did manage to console each other in their relationship dramas, as Audrina once pointed out to Lauren, “You and I have similar tastes in guys, always the bad boys!”

Then, there was Whitney Port and the Bad Boy, Jay Lyon, who is an Australian musician. He meets Whitney on ‘The Hills,’ and follows her in her spin-off series, ‘The City.’

Jay Lyon

He’s also terribly Byronic, in the way he attempts to ‘serendade’ Whitney, before  cruelly dumping her, leaving her a miserable wreck, before she picks herself up from the ground after receiving some advice from her former boss, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

Diane Von Furstenberg

She told her, after noticing Whitney looking miserable at a work party (suffering post traumatic Byronic Bad Boy syndrome), “The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. Because you have to live with yourself.” Now, if that isn’t a cure from breaking the Bad Boy habit, nothing is!

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Romanticism and the Byronic Bad Boy Syndrome

One of my favourite genres of fiction is that of the Romantic Era. Yet, I do have a thorough dislike of the male characters that inhabit this world. Because of one thing, they all exemplify that most dangerous, monstrous of characters, the ‘Byronic Bad Boy.’ Yes, inspired by that most notorious of Romantic poets, Lord Byron, who, was, as Lady Caroline Lamb, put it, “mad, bad and dangerous to know.”

Indeed, Caroline would have known, because Byron conducted an affair with her, and then discarded her. However, it would seem she had revenge, in the form of the book Glenarvon, which was a thinly veiled fictional account of their affair, with the male character, Lord Glenarvon, bearing a striking resemblance in character and appearance to Byron.

Nevertheless, the problem with Lord Byron was that he was cruel and arrogant, and apparently even had an incestuous relationship with his half-sister. Yet because he was ‘so handsome,’ mesmersing women who came under his spell, it seemed that many forgave him for his numerous sins.

Lord Byron

However, it doesn’t end there. Not only was he somewhat of a monster, but he ‘inspired’ a multitude of ‘Byronic Bad Boy,’ characters, the likes of which we are still suffering from today.

Take your pick – Edward Rochester from ‘Jane Eyre‘ – the monstrous man who literally locked up his wife in the attic while Jane, a governess, falls under his spell.

Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester

Then, there’s ‘Heathcliff’ from ‘Wuthering Heights,’ such a horrific brute that it is speculated he is, in fact, a “ghoul, a vampire.” But the female protagonist in the book, Cathy literally starves herself to death for him, as he went off and married her sister-in-law.

Anna Calder-Marshall (as Cathy) Timothy Dalton (as Heathcliff) in the film adaptation of ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1970)

‘Wuthering Heights’ (2009)

And speaking of vampires, the first ever vampire book, ‘The Vampyre,’ was actually written by Lord Byron’s physician, John Polidori, and was inspired by, naturally, Lord Byron himself.

In fact, it was Byron who told his many devoted ‘followers’ at a chateau near Geneva, to write a supernatural story in 1816. Byron had begun writing a vampire story, which he later tossed aside, unfinished, now called ‘Fragment of a Novel.’

Mary Shelley was also in attendance, and proceeded to write ‘Frankenstein.’ However, it was Polidori, who was so inspired by Lord Byron’s idea, that ended up completing the first ever vampire tale, ‘The Vampyre.’

It was originally published as a short story in the magazine, Colburn’s New Monthly Magazine in 1819, and was attributed to Byron, who thoroughly denied he wrote it.

Nevertheless, it is clear this monstrous character of the vampire was based on Byron. The character is a pale, seductive aristocrat, who casts a spell over every woman he meets. But obviously, he’s also a  dangerous creature.

It is this Byronic ‘bad boy’ archetype, that has plagued Western culture ever since, exploiting the recesses of many a young girl’s mind, which harbours the ‘romantic literature fantasy’ of the ‘tall, dark, handsome’ brooding man, who obviously has an aggressive, violent streak. And yet he is ‘so handsome,’ he can quite literally get away with murder (or at the very least emotional/physical abuse).

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The future for journalism?

There’s no way around it, the future for traditional journalism looks bleak. However, according to Mashable , journalists need to become more entrepreneurial and develop multi-skilled traits. Many journalists have launched their own websites, earning money directly from advertisers. Much like some celebrities:

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According to this week’s Grazia, Kim Kardashian is reportedly sitting pretty on $50,000 per Tweet and her website www.kimkardashian.com commands $850,000 per year.

Indeed, as newspapers are seemingly in decline in the Western world, journalists are encouraged to replicate some of these celebrities’ examples, and deliver popular content, which attracts an audience. Meanwhile, the much maligned Murdoch-advocated ‘pay-wall’ for viewing content seems to be destined for disaster.

Here’s a video of Jeff Jarvis, an expert on the future of journalism and an advocate of the ‘link economy':

As broadband connections increase around the world, the future of newspapers seems to be online. According to a recent Mashable poll, book lovers are largely eschewing e-book devices such as Kindle, for their adored ‘traditional’ books, which they often collect and proudly display. Meanwhile, newspapers are often seen as ‘waste items’ (or fish ‘n’ chip wrapping) very quickly.

Indeed, seemingly, the very nature of a constantly updated 24-hour news cycle is suited to an online format. However, newspapers may still exist, albeit in a smaller format, focusing on analysis and insights, rather than traditional news stories.

Nevertheless, our last lecture began with a John Keats poem – a nod to insightful reflection. As Stephen Quinn says in ‘The Future of Journalism, it is “quality content” that is crucial for journalism to survive.


John Keats
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Mobile journalism (mojo), aka newsgathering with a cellphone

This week’s lecture was about Mojo, or Mobile Journalism – using your mobile phone for newsgathering purposes. I think this ‘Mojo’ phrase has a nice ring to it, so to speak, as it does have an element of ‘magic’ about it.

Mojos can capture ‘breaking news’ stories and even film exclusive stories, as ‘bodyguards’ such as controlling PR people are not aware that an interview is taking place. This is especially liberating for many journalists, as it is particularly difficult to interview people with obtrusive video equipment, without gaining special media accreditation or asking for permission prior to arriving for an interview.

For example, the Unit Chair for Multimedia Journalism at Deakin University, Stephen Quinn was able to film a sports story, which was streamed live to the Geelong Advertiser website, as the athlete, Geelong footballer David Milburn  thought he was just having a chat. Stephen used a deceptively ordinary-looking Nokia mobile phone which in fact has high-standard video features.

This form of news gathering is so much more effective than even the technologically savvy video-journalist, who still relies on relatively cumbersome equipment such as a video camera, tripod and laptop computer.

However, when it comes to submitting stories, both video journalists and mojos are more likely to beat traditional reporters, who have to rely on large ‘broadcast vans’ to relay footage to television stations.

A television broadcast van

Television camera crew.

There is also software, from sites such as Qik that can be used that allows mojos to stream live video onto the Internet.

Here is a video about mojos:

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