Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reality Boy by A.S. King

    Initially I was not engaged in this book at all. After reading about 50 pages, I thought to myself: "how interesting can a book about a kid who was on a reality tv show be?" Once I gave the book another try and read further on, I began to understand the important message and theme that A.S. King tried to convey through this text. Gerald or the Crapper, as he is unfortunatelly labeled after his stunt on Network Nanny, is an insightful seventeen year old who is a testament to the effect that reality tv plays on individuals. I began to sympathize with Gerald not only due to the stigma that was placed on him due to his appearance on Network Nanny when he was 5, but the awful conditions he was subjected to at home. This leads me to my hatred of Tasha. How could someone treat their little brother and sister with such disrespect and bring harm to them? From the beginning of the book I knew there was something a little off with her-a psychopath in the making. I honestly feel as though she used the reality television show to her advantage. By lying to her parents and accusing Gerald of crapping in her room and destroying her things, she was able to create a distorted image of who he truly was. Through this, viewers of the show had no choice but to accept the image of him that was displayed from episode to episode- an enraged child, with an excessive desire to deficate. 
   As I continued to read, I found myself asking: "how much of what's on television do I actually buy into and believe? Can I separate reality from fiction?"  Many people are obsessed with reality, including myself (you do not want to know how many hours I devote to television). While watching shows such as Network Nanny,  it's hard for viewers to not get sucked into the represention of individuals on the screen. This is something that I learned during my undergrad as a sociology major. The concept looking glass self  is one that has been engraved in my brain over the past four years. As I was reading Reality Boy, I found myself referring back to it and making connections. Glad my sociology degree is working in my favor! Looking glass self focuses on how we see ourselves, and how others view us. Gerald is a prime example of the impact of the looking glass self. Although reality tv perceived him as an angry child, Gerald is finally coming to realize that how others saw him on television is not who he truly is. His classmates, nanny, and friends were influenced by how he was represented on television, which in turn shaped the opinions they formed of him. It is safe to say that Gerald is extremely misunderstood.  Essentially, none of them became aware of the REAL Gerald. Yes, Gerald has anger issues from time to time and truly does despise his sister, but the image of him created by the cameras are far from the person he is today. Reality television and many other media sources, shape the way viewers not only perceive themselves,but the characters represented on television as well. As I finished the book, I wondered, what if Gerald was never on Network Nanny; how would his life have turned out? 

I have attached a visual representation that reflects the concept "the looking glass self." I hope this helps in understanding the concept! 

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE your comparison with the looking glass self and this novel. If more than anyone, Gerald has more angles and lenses focusing on him more than anyone. There are millions of viewers who formed their own opinions of him based on what they saw on television. There's even a division between his two parents who see him. His mother's perception is fogged by Tasha and his father's perception is fogged by the chaos that is surrounding him (until later in the book, thank god). The people in this book that we appreciate are the people who begin to see the real Gerald. Like his Dad (eventually), Mr. Ferguson and the rest of the class, Joe Jr., Lisi, Hannah. It's these people in his life that look past his, well, past and begin to see Gerald for who he is and who he is able to become. This is a solid reminder of realizing who you have in our life. I'm sure all of us, not just myself, have people who see you through different lenses no matter why or what reasons. It makes me appreciate who I am and appreciate the people around me who see me for who I really am and love me for who I really am. This was a GREAT comparison for this novel and I applaud you for making this connection!