As I embark on this internship, I find myself holding high expectations for the upcoming weeks. In the interest of full disclosure, I have little experience conducting such immersive, in-depth research, so I’m excited to really seize a topic and embrace it. I expect (and hope) that I’ll discover something new in my studies. I expect to grow closer to my fellow scholars as we undertake this mission together, and I expect that I’ll learn from their differing perspectives and experiences, and hope that they’ll learn from mine in turn. I expect to be taught new techniques and methods (hopefully a bit of coding!) I expect that this experience will broaden my knowledge holistically, and not just on my topic of study.
My topic currently delves into instances of deviation from social norms by examining minority treatment on 21st century reality and dating television. I wanted to examine a low culture medium to see how such a commonly discarded phenomenon (reality TV) is still reflective of malignant cultural values. This topic is important to me for several reasons. First, I’m admittedly a somewhat closeted consumer of reality television myself. Simultaneously, I harbor an interest in modern social issues, like media visibility for minority populations. I wanted to examine these issues in the context of reality television in order to examine the intersection between pop culture and society. Reality television is so commonly discarded as unacademic waste; subsequently, many believe that there is nothing of intellectual value to be derived. I wanted to reject this notion by defending reality television as a admissible means of examining culture.
Throughout the project, I want to maintain a theme that places a critical lens over reality love and dating television. I would really like this critical lens to be an examination of age, race, ability, and sexual orientation. These are the main tenets of my project and I would like them to remain so. More flexible elements of my project include how I’m going to study these intersecting ideas. Currently, I imagine that I’ll examine instances of deviation and explore public reaction to such cases. An armless contestant on Bachelor in Paradise or a gay couple on Bachelor Australia come to mind. I also want to quantify these instances of deviation in a chart as well; for instance, a chart that illustrates the number of people of color on several relevant dating shows for the past 17 years. Perhaps a bar graph or pie chart would be the best way to graphically display this information. This part of my project, the accumulation and representation of data, is still flexible.
I can imagine encountering problems considering the scope of my project. I would consider limiting my project to one minority quadrant in order to slim my research, but I think a more comprehensive project would study several factions in order to draw multiple parallels as to varying minority treatments. I am also concerned that what I aim to study may not be quantifiable. I must find a scientific, empirical way to study what I want to study. Measuring how desirable the general public finds a certain person is not a realistic aim; examining public reaction to a certain instance is an academically permissible way to ascertain data. I hope that I can fathom my many questions into one arguable thesis.
When considering my time and resource constraints, I want to embrace a topic that is feasible. If the scope of my project is too large, or my ambitions too great, proper research will never be accomplished. A valuable resource for me will be the opinions and advice of my librarian associates and peers. I believe that this peer collaboration will be an essential component of me designing my project within my constraints. Sometimes, my fellows have a better idea of what is accomplishable than I do myself. If I feel as though my research may overextend the range of my resources, consulting with a friend or mentor should be greatly assistive.
I’m very excited to get started!