How we reconcile reality TV stars' alleged moral transgressions

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

How we reconcile reality TV stars' alleged moral transgressions
© Provided by ABC NEWS Jerry Harris was a breakout star of Netflix’s docuseries Cheer, before being arrested by the FBI. (Getty images: Jim Spellman)

The downfall of a protagonist is a tale as old as time.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

But now, thanks to reality TV, instead of watching fictional characters fall from grace, we’re witnessing real people — people we may care for, or feel we know intimately — be accused of moral transgressions.

Former Navarro cheerleader and star of the Netflix docuseries Cheer, Jerry Harris, is one such figure.

Global Tech News Daily

After sharing his harrowing childhood and joyful “mat talk” in season one, Harris became a breakout success. He went on to be The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s Oscar correspondent and appeared in an Instagram live chat with then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden in June 2020.

By September, everything changed.

Global Tech News Daily

The 22-year-old was arrested in his home by the FBI on a child pornography charge. Several charges have since been added, including sexual exploitation of children, and travelling with the attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a minor.

The fallout, which is documented in Cheer’s second season — released earlier this month — forces co-stars and audiences alike to wrestle with a complex, and increasingly common moral dilemma:

How should we react when someone we admired is charged with heinous crimes? And can we reconcile these allegations with the goodness we saw in them?

Real people vs edited reality

For Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer in The University of Melbourne’s school of social and political sciences, it’s important to remember that reality TV is actually an “orchestrated reality”.

She says the genre is driven by personalities rather than plot, so an awful lot of effort goes into casting characters — or in the case of Cheer, choosing which cheerleaders to centre on — and presenting their narrative.

“There’s a disproportionate skew to people who have tragic, tumultuous backstories, because it gives perceived depth to that person,” Dr Rosewarne explains.

While Cheer isn’t a classic reality TV format — it won the 2020 Emmy for Outstanding Structured Reality Program — it does dive heavily into the backstories of its stars.

Cheerleader Morgan Simianer, for example, reveals she was abandoned by her parents as a kid, teammate La’Darius Marshall shares that he was sexually abused during childhood, and Jerry Harris speaks of losing his mother to cancer during his teenage years.

Dr Rosewarne says that knowing a person’s history may lead us to rationalise why they behave in a certain way.

“We’re getting a very edited, curated version of a person,” she says.

“There’s a kind of built-in pop psychology for audiences, where we start to [ask], ‘Is that based on their, for example, traumatic childhood?'”

Feeling ‘betrayed’ by reality stars

Tamara Cavenett, a clinical psychologist and president of the Australian Psychological Society, says it’s impossible to know a person fully from watching them on TV.

“No matter what information we get, we are always only getting a portion of someone’s world,” she says.

“We never see all the complexities and intricacies of the way anybody lives.”

She adds that some reality TV talent may wish to present themselves in a particular light.

“People are often participating in it because there is a secondary gain that might come out of it, like being famous or endorsement or influence,” Ms Cavenett points out.

But it’s often easy to put scepticism aside when we’re immersed in a character’s backstory or rooting for them to succeed.

And according to Charlie Crimston, research fellow at the University of Queensland’s school of psychology, that’s why a reality TV star’s alleged transgression can hit us hard.

“It’s more emotionally impactful when there’s that sense that we’ve been betrayed,” she says.

“We felt we’ve really gotten to know someone.

“I mean, maybe that’s the question: can you ever really know someone?”

Dr Crimson says our connection to the alleged perpetrator — and the intensity of the alleged crime — affects how we respond.

“In this particular case [of Jerry Harris], there’s a really strong sense of anger associated with the alleged immoral acts,” she says.

She adds that in situations like this, feelings of “disgust” will outweigh any fondness we previously felt.

Sympathising with the Tiger King

For Dr Rosewarne, the alleged transgressions of a reality TV star can be harder to process than those of an actor or filmmaker because you can’t simply separate the artist from the art.

“[In a reality TV show] the person was playing themselves, there’s not a buffer anymore,” she explains.

And this is when it can become complicated.

“We try and rationalise that someone we love would never do something heinous, because then that’s almost a character indictment on us,” Dr Rosewarne says.

“There’s this kind of bargaining that goes on here — like the 12 stages of grief — where you don’t want to believe it to begin with.”

But Dr Crimson says while some crimes are beyond reproach, there are other circumstances in which ardent fans will stay devoted to a reality TV star, even after they’ve erred.

“Maybe they could imagine a scenario where the act of murder was justified, or maybe the good qualities of the person still outweigh the bad qualities,” she says.

This sentiment may ring true for some viewers of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King, which starred Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic.

Despite being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin — and being sentenced to 22 years in prison — Maldonado-Passage has amassed a huge fan following, which includes celebrities, like Cardi B.

Patrick Stokes, a philosopher and associate professor at Deakin University, says the lines between fact and fiction often feel blurred in reality TV programs.

He points out that when we watch dramas, for example, “we’re not invited to simply judge and condemn complicated characters … because the fact that it’s fictional makes a space in which it’s okay for us to suspend some of those judgments and try to understand and sympathise.”

“When we’re talking about actual people [on reality TV], though, it gets a lot messier,” he adds.

“You do have to keep reminding yourself, ‘Wait a minute, he actually tried to kill someone.'”

Complexities of character 

Dr Stokes says when we’re watching real life play out on screen, it’s a good idea to assess our motives.

“If you’re going to watch something like Tiger King, are you watching it as somebody who is taking in all this stuff and forming a complicated moral judgement?” he says.

“Are you learning more about human behaviour or the complexity, even tragedy of people’s lives? Or are you just enjoying it in a voyeuristic way as if it’s a soap opera?”

For Ms Cavenett, it’s worthwhile being a little more sceptical about what we see and hear.

“It’s about holding these people, and stories, a little bit lighter, and starting to realise that reality TV is very often not reality at all,” she says.

Ms Cavenett adds that we shouldn’t judge ourselves for having felt a connection with someone on-screen, who later transgresses.

“It is a real challenge for the brain when you feel so connected to someone and you get this piece of information that’s completely different” she says.

“I think the first point is that audiences need to be a little bit kinder to themselves.

“And if we all take a step back, we can realise that life is kind of grey. People are capable of a lot of different things, and not all of them are good.”

News Related


New York Rangers get another comeback win to force Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH — How many times can the New York Rangers dig themselves into a hole and climb back out? At least one more, as of Friday night. The Blueshirts came ... Read more »

Wilson, balanced Aces cruise to 96-73 victory over Dream

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) — A’ja Wilson scored 15 points, Kelsey Plum had 14 points and 11 assists and the Las Vegas Aces rolled to a 96-73 victory over the ... Read more »

EXPLAINER: Why frustration lingers in Okinawa 50 years later

The Associated PressFILE – U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mike Anglen of Turner, Ore., center, stands atop a cliff as Sgt. Bryan Wallace of Pikin, Ill., waits for his turn before ... Read more »

Astros beat Nationals 6-1 for 11th straight victory

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep and the Houston Astros extended their winning streak to ... Read more »

Kreider scores late, Rangers edge Pens 5-3 to force Game 7

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kreider’s long slap shot bounced over Louis Domingue and into the net with 1:28 left and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on ... Read more »

Astros push winning streak to 11, roll past Nationals 6-1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, and Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep to help the Houston Astros extend their winning ... Read more »

Moustakas, Drury power Reds to 8-2 victory over Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice and Brandon Drury drove in four runs to break out of a slump and lead the resurgent Cincinnati Reds to an 8-2 victory ... Read more »

Peterson's bases-loaded walk lifts Brewers over Marlins 2-1

MIAMI (AP) — Jace Peterson walked against Anthony Bender with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 Friday night. After starters ... Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during manager Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Ogunbowale, Gray help Wings rally past Mystics, 94-86

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, Allisha Gray had 21 and the Dallas Wings overcame a 15-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Washington Mystics 94-86 on Friday night. ... Read more »

Resigning North Dakota senator led lawmakers in travel costs

The Associated PressFILE – North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg listens during a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meeting at the Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Jan. 7, 2009. Holmberg, ... Read more »

Residents in picturesque California county hit with gas prices topping $7 a gallon

A California county known for its spectacular mountains and proximity to Yosemite National Park has been paying the nation’s highest gas prices. Read more »

Boudreau to return as coach of Canucks next season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bruce Boudreau will return as coach of the Vancouver Canucks next season after helping to turn the struggling NHL club around as a midyear replacement. ... Read more »

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

On Location: May 13, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tested positive for COVID-19 ... Read more »

Today in History for May 14th

Highlights of this day in history: Colonists go ashore in Virginia to set up Jamestown; Lewis and Clark begin to explore Louisiana Territory; Israel founded; Skylab launched; Movie producer George ... Read more »

Twitter CEO expects Elon Musk acquisition to close, addresses spending cuts

Musk is awaiting details supporting calculations that spam, fake accounts represent less than 5% of Twitter's users Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Renovated NYC museum shows indigenous perspectives

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City recently finished a major renovation of its exhibition on the native peoples of the northwest coast of North America. Curators ... Read more »

Police release 911 calls in Gilgo Beach case

A woman who disappeared in a beach community on New York’s Long Island more than a decade ago, sparking an investigation into a possible serial killer, said “there’s somebody after ... Read more »

Academy Awards set 2023 Oscars for March 12

The Associated PressFILE – Oscar statue on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Next year’s Academy Awards will ... Read more »

Actor Fred Ward, of 'Tremors,' 'The Right Stuff' fame, dies

The Associated PressFILE – Fred Ward, a cast member in “30 Minutes or Less,” poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2011. Ward, a ... Read more »

Judge refuses to drop elections suit against Trump, media

NEW YORK — A Colorado judge on Friday denied motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by an election systems worker against former President Donald Trump’s campaign, two of its ... Read more »

Q&A: Becky G unveils every side of herself in latest album

The Associated PressFILE – Becky G appears at the Oscars in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Beck G’s latest album is “Esquemas.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) NEW YORK ... Read more »

North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak. Read more »

North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says 21 people died and 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread ... Read more »

White Sox place Giolito on COVID list, activate Vaughn

The Chicago White Sox placed ace Lucas Giolito on the COVID-19 injured list and activated outfielder Andrew Vaughn following a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. Giolito began experiencing ... Read more »

Traded back and forth, Ford learns to live out of suitcase

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Ford has learned to travel light — and quickly. Since the start of the season, the 29-year-old first baseman has played for Tacoma, San Francisco ... Read more »

Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from California on Friday. (May 13) Read more »

Celtics' Robert Williams remains out for Game 6 vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Boston forward/center Robert Williams missed his third straight game with an injured left knee as the Celtics tried to keep their season alive Friday night in Game ... Read more »

Padres sign Robinson Canó, plan to use him off the bench

ATLANTA (AP) — The San Diego Padres have signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a major league contract and plan to use him as a left-handed bat off the ... Read more »

WNBA star's Russia detention extended by 1 month

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner says her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month. Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press the relatively short extension indicated ... Read more »

Louisiana justices toss COVID-related charges against pastor

Hundreds of thousands of Americans fighting long-haul symptoms from COVID-19 Dr. David Putrino from Mount Sinai Health System and COVID long-hauler Joel Fram discuss the long-term effects of the disease.The ... Read more »

Sandy Hook lawsuits against Alex Jones on track to resume

The Associated PressFILE – This Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, photo shows radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at Capitol Hill in Washington. The Sandy Hook families’ lawsuits against ... Read more »

Rockies' Bryant closer to return after cortisone shot

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant took swings in the cage Friday for the first time since he was sidelined with a sore back nearly three weeks ago ... Read more »

Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic to minors after poor start

NEW YORK (AP) — Rather than make his Citi Field debut against the team that traded him, Jarred Kelenic was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners on Friday ... Read more »

Biden: ASEAN partnership 'critical' in this moment

Looking to strengthen ties, President Joe Biden welcomes leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Washington for the first time. “We’re launching a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations,” ... Read more »

Phil Mickelson will not defend his title at next week's PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson caught lightning in a bottle last year at Kiawah Island, winning a major championship at 50 years of age. The fairways flooded, and the golf world stood and ... Read more »

Tennessee Titans' Malik Willis on Ryan Tannehill's mentorship comments: 'Everything is cool'

The Tennessee Titans didn’t take issue with Ryan Tannehill’s comments about mentoring third-round rookie Malik Willis. Willis and coach Mike Vrabel were asked about Tannehill’s scrutinized remarks following the first ... Read more »

Lawyers plan suit against Lufthansa over Jewish passengers

Lawyers for 26 passengers said Friday they told Lufthansa that they will sue the German airline for refusing to let members of a large group of Orthodox Jewish passengers board ... Read more »

Wild face offseason after yet another early ouster

While the Minnesota Wild were stacking up franchise records and securing the extra home game for the first round, general manager Bill Guerin carefully acknowledged a “great year” for the ... Read more »