The episode involved its usual ‘drama’, which had a focus on the older sister Kourtney and her complicated relationship with her ex partner Scott. In separate parts throughout the episode it broke away from the typical ‘Calabasas bubble’ and included the sister’s visit to the organisation. It started with a conversation at their home. Kim, on her phone reading the internet said ‘what is all this Planned Parenthood talk where people want to protest for Planned Parenthood?’ And then in her interview where she talks to the camera, she gave a run down of her known influence ‘I want to have an opinion on this, but I just don’t know enough…I do like to speak up on social media about topics that mean something to me, and I want to be more informed.’ Kim understands her exposure and using her platform to address certain topics. It can also be seen as a relatable trait. A lot of people who don’t know much about certain topics, can hear Kim being completely honest that she doesn’t know either but wants to learn, which is positive. It’s not someone telling you what to think, but someone you can get informed with.
Not only was it featured on their show but they also posted on social media.
It got a lot of attention and caused a lot of discussion in the comments. There was much praise from people who agreed, but also some people who didn’t agree would tend to say many harsh and negative things. People who also dislike the Kardashians tended to personally attack them to get the point across with examples ‘educate yourself’, ‘you lost a fan in me I’m disappointed’ and some others.
However there were many positive responses and not only did the sisters Tweet about it, but also encouraged people to take action.
Even news articles and talk shows had their say.
It is difficult to say exactly how much action was taken by the public from these couple of posts, however it definitely created discussion and with 60 million followers it was seen by many people. With the modern internet environment, the role of unintentional news exposure can have significant possibilities in providing information about politics (Yonghwan, 2013). When people go online to do whatever activities they intend to do with no motivation to be informed, its possible they may see news stories or political information which could potentially lead to raised levels of political participation, especially if it’s at a time where change is happening. The Kardashian women, focusing on this topic right now with the current legislations and government tax cut discussions, it’s well thought out. With social media there is so much noise around that it can be difficult to make complex arguments or check validity of information however what once was seen as social media being trivial is now an important tool in getting people involved (The Conversation). Whoever dislikes these celebrities, wouldn’t really come across what the girls are trying to do anyway and if they do, they typically would be called the ‘trolls’ of the internet. What the girls have the ability to do, and all forms of entertainment and reality shows, is sprinkle a bit of a current affairs topic in their show. Nothing that will take away from their product, but it can spark discussion on their many forums and even go further than that. Topics that people might not have found any other way depending on their media consumption and preferences for entertainment.
So to answer the question do reality shows help or hinder political discussion…it definitely creates awareness and forums for discussion. It may not produce the most sophisticated discussions, however as the shows are relevant to a lot of people and have a lot of reach it can get people talking about issues. With social media too, they can break out of what they are used to hearing say from their friends and family and be exposed to other sides. You can’t really say what actions go further than that, but any further steps for society to be better informed from any avenue not just specific and exclusive types, can be seen as positive.
References: (for both blogs)
Gonyea, D. (2018). NPR Choice page. [online] Npr.org. Available at: https://www.npr.org/2018/03/01/589880256/planned-parenthood-plans-major-political-effort-in-key-states-for-2018-midterms.
Fordham Metz, W. (2018). How Reality TV Works. [online] HowStuffWorks. Available at: https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/reality-tv.htm.
Lerner, R. (2018). Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ Ratings Improve. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccalerner/2018/01/17/keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-ratings-improve/#765c724969c2.
Curry, K. (2016). More and more people get their news via social media. Is that good or bad?. [online] Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/30/more-and-more-people-get-their-news-via-social-media-is-that-good-or-bad/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8d9052ce8c68.
Jones, J. and Jones, J. (2010). Entertaining politics. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
McCarthy, L. (2017). Kim Kardashian on Planned Parenthood: “The perception is that it is an abortion clinic; that is nothing what it is like.”. [online] W Magazine. Available at: https://www.wmagazine.com/story/kim-kardashian-planned-parenthood-keeping-up-with-the-kardashians.
Levine, S. (2011). How The Kardashians Built A $65 Million Brand. [online] Business Insider Australia. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/kardashian-family-brand-2011-10?r=US&IR=T.
Kim, Y., Chen, H. and Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2013). Stumbling upon news on the Internet: Effects of incidental news exposure and relative entertainment use on political engagement. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(6), pp.2607-2614.
Snowden, C. (2016). I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s a link to prove it: how social media shapes public debate. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/im-right-youre-wrong-and-heres-a-link-to-prove-it-how-social-media-shapes-public-debate-65723.
The Kardashian’s approach was quite contrived and planned but a lot of reality shows have people speaking on their own free will. Sometimes when you have this, you can get a very unplanned chaotic experience, especially when the show is live. An example of this is in 2004, when a contestant on Big Brother (a show where random everyday people are placed in a house together to live and also do challenges), got evicted and protested about the refugees in Australia. The producers didn’t know what to do, the host had to quickly try to adapt and keep the show going and the audience were shocked and didn’t know what was going on. This was a significant event in television, because this was an everyday person using this forum to make a huge political statement in front of millions of people.
Eviction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3N83X0gb_c&t=523s