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Antonio Vettraino

Jason Torrente

Writing 1050

September 23, 2017

Reality TV Rhetorical Analysis

I think that the ideas contained in this work express the author’s feelings in.a way that he

intended, based on his results. Or ruined America more than it already was. Ben Alexander’s ar-

ticle “Reality TV is a Dangerous Art Form” tells his readers how Reality TV is purposely set up

to have enemies and situations so that it compares to a drama. However, as audiences get bored

with the current shows, the producers will have to up the ante, meaning, things will get really

dangerous really quick. Through Rhetorical Analysis, we can better understand these authors ar-

guments and have more of an understanding on Reality TV.

In his article, Hirschorn mentions in 2007 he worked for CBS Evening News, who would

criticize reality shows, some of them being his own shows from VH1. His first use of any rhetor-

ical devices is when he uses ethos to describe the image of one of the newspersons from CBS,

Katie Couric. She states in reference to Reality TV “We’re doing our part here at CBS News, but

the barbarians are massing at the gates, people” (Hirschorn, “Reality Television Benefits Soci-

ety…”). Him including this in the beginning of the article is important to show the reader his ex-

perience with how people perceived Reality TV and setting up the dispute of the article.

Hirschorn is also very good at including statistics and different informational facts to fur-

ther back up his case on why Reality TV shows are a much better form of media. One example

of Logos he gives is when he quotes “Reality Shows cost anywhere from a quarter to a half as
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much to produce as scripted shows. The money saved on Extreme-Makeover: Home Edition, the

logic goes, allow ABC to pay for additional gruesome medical emergencies and exploding fer-

ries on Grey’s Anatomy. NBC’s crappy Fear Factor pays for the classy Heroes” (Hirschorn,

“Reality Television Benefits Society…”). Network companies greatly benefit from the cheap

cost of reality shows to produce higher quality shows and make more demographics happy and

in turn gain more money. After Hirschorn sets up the issue as mentioned earlier with his use of

ethos, he now presents the facts very well with his use of logos and makes a much more convinc-

ing argument for the reader.

Hirschorn also uses kairos in a very light humor kind of way to get his point further across

on why Reality TV, which nowadays is becoming so ambitious. In one paragraph he insults

shows like Law and Order that uses stock characters and has multiple variations of the same di-

lemma for each episode, calling it out as predictable. It almost seems like he’s calling shows like

this “try hard”. Then in the next paragraph he describes how what could seem like the most bor-

ing and simple premise about crab fishermen can become an intense and epic show called Dead-

liest Catch, which in turn, makes his argument about how reality TV is more exciting valid.

Wolcott begins his article with a story where he was in a drugstore when he heard a young

woman in her early 20’s yelling into her cell phone about how her friend “shit all over her” and

not caring about the fact that everyone else in the store can hear her. Wolcott sees this woman

just the same as the drama queens on TV and how they behave, “a perfect mimicry of every

spoiled snot licensed to pout on Bravo or VH1 or MTV” (Wolcott, Reality TV Has Lowered

Standards…). We now are given a clear representation on what his opinion is on society becom-

ing too invested in Reality TV.


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Wolcott also uses a bit of Pathos to show the emotional aspect of how insulting Reality TV

can be from blogger James Howard Kunstler’s experience. Kunstler wrote about how when a

memorial tribute for the CBS news giant Walter Cronkite ended, it was followed up after by a

“childish and stupid ‘reality’ show called ‘Big Brother’”. Obviously the reason Wolcott includes

this is to show how disrespectful him and Kunstler thought this was and is another example on

why this negatively affects our society.

Alexander’s article is a lot different than the other two in the aspect that it is more opinion-

ated and more assuming that you know this information and can go along with what he’s saying.

He starts with the summary of a play called Collected Stories and describes the true drama of

two friends who eventually grow apart. He then explains what true drama is and how it’s used in

a lot of scripted TV shows. Then he explains how Reality TV tries to do the same thing and add

the exact same drama to their show. The only difference is… it’s real. Anything that happens on

a Reality Show actually happens. His paper is set up well and the timing of how he explained

drama to then making his argument is done well.

What all three of these articles did well was establish their point on Reality TV clearly and

all of them in some way had me convinced of their argument, some more than others. I think

what Hirschorn did really well was use his facts and prove to his audience that Reality TV actu-

ally is beneficial. What Wolcott does in his argument is show his readers the emotion on why

this genre actually makes America worse, and he uses his sarcasm to connect to the reader and

make the article lighter. Alexander’s article was significantly shorter, but he used his timing well

to sum up his argument for the readers so they would get the point immediately and, in turn,

made his argument clearer. These three authors effectively make their arguments clear to their

audience and construct well articles that use different rhetorical devices well, which in turn,
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makes their articles more interesting.

Works Cited

Alexander, Ben. "Reality TV Is a Dangerous Art Form." Reality TV, edited by Karen F. Balkin,
Greenhaven Press, 2004. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.gale-
group.com/apps/doc/EJ3010307212/OVIC?u=lom_oaklandu&xid=64b54fee. Accessed 23 Sept.
2017.

Hirschorn, Michael. "Reality Television Benefits Society More than Scripted Television Does."
Reality TV, Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.gale-
group.com/apps/doc/EJ3010307236/OVIC?u=lom_oaklandu&xid=d99a35f3. Accessed 23 Sept.
2017. Originally published as "The Case for Reality TV: What the Snobs Don't Understand," At-
lantic, vol. 299, no. 4, May 2007.

Wolcott, James. "Reality TV Has Lowered Standards for Television and Society as a Whole."
Reality TV, Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.gale-
group.com/apps/doc/EJ3010307237/OVIC?u=lom_oaklandu&xid=c1e06044. Accessed 23 Sept.
2017. Originally published as "I'm a Culture Critic ... Get Me Out of Here!" Vanity Fair, vol.
146, no. 592, Dec. 2009.