Does the television 'Talk Show' industry represent a positive or a negative social phenomenon?

Essay by paigeyUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, October 2007

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One can only imagine what this constant attention to the fringes of society, to those who break rules, is doing to our society's ability to define and constrain deviance. One thing seems fairly certain: law-abiding, privacy-loving, ordinary people who have reasonably happy childhoods and are satisfied with their lives, probably won't get to tell their stories on Phil, Sally or Oprah…Television talk shows are not interested in adequately reflecting or representing social reality, but in highlighting and trivializing its underside for fun and profit (Abt and Seesholtz: quoted by Gamson: 1998: 2)There's plenty of debate surrounding American day time 'talk shows' yet it isn't a straight down the line debate of whether they are simply a positive or a negative social phenomenon, it seems more pointedly that they simply just are a phenomenon. So what is all this arguing about? It seems slightly trivial that a product of the entertainment industry has created such a massive debate about morale, and in particular the erosion of the public/private sphere; yet in our ever-progressing world of media and communication, perhaps it isn't so hard to believe.

The talk show industry has become a place for the marginalized in society to have a voice, and in that an outlet for some form of freedom and perhaps, maybe, catharsis? Representing mainly it seems 'the other' on the binary scale: women, homosexuals, trans-genders, blacks … the list goes on, what some American critics label "The freak show" is perhaps more so just an over sensationalized spectacle of reality. Even more so it may be the new form of the public sphere, where there is no longer boundaries between the private and the public sphere; where average Americans can debate important, yet over dramatized issues that are central to their political lives, such as racism, sexuality,