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EVENT REMINDER: TONIGHT, May 1, Brooklyn: “Project Brainwash,” Jennifer L. Pozner on women and reality TV

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

May 1st, 2010

NYC EVENT REMINDER: Tonight is my last planned talk on reality TV for the spring and summer, and I’m happy to bring WIMN’s spring multimedia lecture tour to a close in my own backyard — Brooklyn!

WHAT: Jennifer L. Pozner delivers Annual McKinney Social Justice Lecture
WHERE: First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, Pierrepont Street and Monroe Place, Brooklyn Heights (subway directions here)
WHEN: Tonight, May 1, 8pm
Suggested Donation: $15 (this is a fundraiser for First Unitarian — no one will be turned away for lack of funds)

TOPIC: Project Brainwash!: Why Reality TV Is Bad for Women (…and men, people of color, the economy, love, sex, and sheer damn common sense!)

(Note: The link brings you to a flier with the previous title, but it’s the same basic talk. I’m kind of going for that vintage David Letterman vibe with this new title — when something’s a little too long, it’s a little too long, but when it’s way too long, it gets funny…

This talk offers a brief glimpse at the issues I delve into in my forthcoming book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV (now available for pre-order). Tonight will mark the first time that I’ll be speaking on this topic for a religious group, and I’m honored that the First Unitarian Congregational Society has chosen me as their annual social justice speaker. It’s gratifying to be able to bring a critical, feminist, anti-racist media education program to this community.

I’ve been doing a version of this lecture since 2002, and by now I’ve brought it to upwards of 60 or 70 colleges. It’s evolved over time (hence the new title), but the core of the talk has remained the same. It’s a lively, video-centric presentation that helps audience members apply a critical media literacy lens to reality television, which I see as the most visible pop cultural manifestation of the contemporary backlash against women’s rights. (I defy anyone who has ever watched more than a couple of episodes of “Extreme Makeover,” “The Bachelor,” “Wife Swap” or “Flavor of Love” to disagree.)

“Project Brainwash” exposes how so-called “reality” TV reinforces regressive ideas about women and men, race and class, and beauty, sex, love and marriage in America. It explores the lack of ethnic and physical diversity in a genre where women are sold right alongside soda and cell phones, and reveals how reality TV glorifies eating disorders, derides female intelligence, demeans people of color, and reduces Prince Charming to any jerk with a firm butt and a firmer financial portfolio. Reality TV isn’t simply reflecting anachronistic social biases — it’s resurrecting them. Its producers have done what the most ardent right-wing fundamentalists have never been able to achieve: they’ve created a version of the universe in which women not only have no real choices, they don’t even want any.

Tonight’s “Project Brainwash” lecture focuses primarily on women in reality TV as an entry point to the subject, but touches briefly on race, class and masculinity, and on the influence and impact of product placement advertising over the genre. (Reality Bites Back delves into all these areas in depth.) We can dig in to all of these topics — and any others you want to investigate — in the Q&A, so bring your questions and your energy to Brooklyn Heights tonight if you’re in or near New York.

Hope to see you at the talk tonight if you’re in town. And if you’re not — but you’d like to bring this reality TV presentation, or another lecture, media literacy workshop or media training from WIMN’s series to your town or campus — contact us at info [at] wimnonline [dot] org.

And follow me on Twitter @jennpozner for semi-regular tweets on reality TV analysis, and media, pop culture and politics.

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