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Bravo's The Real Housewives: Living the (Capitalist) Ameri
Transcript of Bravo's The Real Housewives: Living the (Capitalist) Ameri
Nicole B. Cox, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mass Media
Valdosta State University
Feminist Political Economic Theory
- Incorporates feminist concerns into studies of media ownership and control.
- Examines how social and power relations are perpetuated by media, and how females reproduce those same social and power relations themselves.
- Suggests that media operate to keep the status quo intact.
Findings (On Screen):
1. Portrayals of the capitalist class
2. The presence of "imposters"
3. Portrayals of the working class
Portrayals of the Capitalist Class
- Characterized by conspicuous consumption
- Consumption is indicative of belonging to-- or aspiring to achieve-- membership in the upper class
- Distinctly female activity; "empowering"
- Success is based on one's ability to spend
The Presence of "Imposters"
- Two groups: Those who "fall from grace," and those who struggle to keep up appearances
- Upper class positioned as ideal
- Internal hierarchy; must continuously "prove" that they belong
Portrayals of the Working Class
- "Less than" or beneath the Housewives
- Homeless, drug addicts, mentally unstable, dirty, poorly behaved, dangerous, unhappy, and lacking morals.
- Intersections between gender and class
- Rarely included in programming; except for when used to make fun of someone
- Neoliberal ideology
But what sense do audiences actually make of this?
* Class status can be deceiving
* Material wealth isn't all it's cracked up to be
* The American Dream is possible, and the Housewives are proof.
So why is this important?
* Fans understand problematic portrayals, but reproduce the same ideologies online
* Discursive resistance cannot be equated to real-life change
* Involvement validates the series reproduction
* Distracts from meaningful discourse regarding females’ role(s) in society
* Much more than "mindless" entertainment
* Maintains the status quo of social and power relations
* No acknowledgment for real forces affecting viewers; all of the "fun" of consumerism with none of the responsibility.
* Deflects our understanding of women as anything more than shoppers by trade.