By Jen Christensen, CNN
updated 2:26 PM EST, Thu February 28, 2013

Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on "AC360" at 10 p.m. ET tonight.

(CNN) -- A red-faced Gordon Ramsay gets nose-to-nose with an older man and shouts, "Wake up!" He calls another chef's food "rotten." He reduces a middle-aged woman to hysterical tears. And all that's just in the opening credits of "Kitchen Nightmares."

For the next hour of the British culinary icon's popular reality TV series, there is little in the way of praise or pats on the back for the chefs he's coaching. Instead, he swears. He throws food. He calls people "stupid" and "disgusting pigs." His entire performance is based on sharp criticism and what some may argue is bullying-type behavior. Viewers eat it up.

Nightmarish behavior is the stuff reality TV shows are made of. Ramsay is certainly not alone. Tami Roman on VH1's "Basketball Wives" calls her friends "bitches" and physically attacks one of them in front of a fancy Miami restaurant. A study of the U.K.'s version of "The Apprentice" found it depicted 85 aggressive acts an hour. "American Idol" showed 57 aggressive acts an hour.

At the same time, a competing message has emerged in the form of high-profile public service efforts. Earnest actors make anti-bullying videos. Children's TV networks create community awareness campaigns. You can even buy "Stop Bullying" hoodies.

Could your child be a bully?

Dad vows to stop bullying after son dies

Cartoon Network raises anti-bullying flag

Bully victim: I didn't feel the pain

What message gets through? And which do we emulate at work or school?

Studies show that while bullying can manifest as overt bad behavior like physical violence or screaming, more often than not it can be more covert.

Enough is enough: Say no to bullying
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Enough is enough: Say no to bullying

"Bullying behavior can include people who spread rumors about someone or make a person a regular target of gossip, researchers say. They regularly question someone's competence in front of others. They call people names. They consistently exclude their victims from social events or meetings. They don't give credit where it is due. If they are in a workplace they set impossible deadlines or assign the victim to several pointless tasks to set the victim up to fail or to feel like they don't have any worth.

Some psychologists worry that watching reality TV which can glorify bullying will have negative long-term consequences."

I can't comprehend why people like to watch reality TV or bullying from any source.  

When the first reality TV show came-on years ago, I watched a couple of episodes, then stopped because it appeared they purposely chose the meanest people they could find to put on the show, and I can't stand to watch meanness or fighting.

It didn't take long until I could tell from the title of a new show, that it would be that type, and so I wouldn't watch one second of it.

The article said something to the effect that people like those shows because the viewer gets to experience a sort of revenge in seeing other people bullied, like the viewer has been.  Beyond my comprehension why.  I must have a lot more compassion and empathy than those viewers.

It also said "being nice makes for dull entertainment."  I don't understand that viewpoint either.  I love nice people and enjoy watching them.  I get very disgusted with movies that are based on reality, but the real-life people they portray are "too nice", so the director gives them a phony fight scene that never happened.  

Two examples:  I like the movie "Three Little Words", about two popular songwriters in the 1920's that never had a contract between them and always got along great, but the director put a fake huge disagreement in that had them not speaking to each other for months (or years?).  

The second example is "Apollo 13".  I love that movie, but could love it much more if Ron Howard had not made-up a fight between two of the astronauts on their way back to earth. It never happened.  The real astronauts were totally professional.  The mission leader, Jim Lovell said the astronauts all worked together and never argued.  If I remember right Ron Howard admitted he falsified that scene and others for more drama.   As if almost dying many times by blowing-up, freezing, dehydration, CO2 poisoning, and burning is not enough drama.  Give me a break!

Why not show the truth that some people really have it together, are cooperative, nice, kind, loving, and enjoyable to be around?  There’s already way too many shows and movies that show the negative side of humanity. Why lie, and show humans worse than they really are?  It’s discouraging, and frosts my tush.


Spud! Exactly right! Mentally healthy, mature, adult human beings can face terrible challenges and behave professionally and effectively and efficiently without throwing temper tantrums. Temper doesn't solve problems, thinking, knowing as much as one can possibly know, and taking decisive actions is what gets one through the tough times. And by all means, don't sit down, put hands together and pray for guidance or instruction, and rescue. That is the epitome of dumb! After the crisis passes, gather together with a nice celebratory beverage and menu and reflect and rejoice on being up to the tasks and overcoming chalenges. Sing, dance, hoop and holler "Job well done! We evolved!"

Sorry I got off topic, from directors enabling bullies to directors lying about how much people fight .  I saw a slight connection and took the opportunity to expound on one of my pet peeves.

I notice too much of the same behavior on the US series, The Biggest Loser, particularly with trainer Jillian Michaels.  I seriously doubt that she has any formal training as a psychologist, yet she seems to feel as though her abrasive, arrogant and abusive attitude is the only tactic which will get through to her overweight and obese charges.  And, because most of the participants of TBL have poor self-images to go along with their poor physical condition, she gets away with it.  I quit watching TBL for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the completely unrealistic training regimen they use, but also because of Jillian's inexcusable attitude.

Once, just once, I would love to see someone on that show who has has the personal strength and chutzpah to stare her down and say, "Ms. Michaels, your position does not behoove your attitude.  You can either start treating me with respect or you, this show and this network will have a serious problem."

She, Gordon Ramsay, and others like them need to be taken down, preferably SEVERAL notches.

I watched as much of "Sunday Morning" on TV as I could stand today (am I just getting too sensitive or are they putting on more religious stories lately?).

They had a story about "The Bible" mini-series producers Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, and I watched as much as I could stomach.  They said he produced "Survivor", so I looked him up on Wikipedia and see that he produced a large number of "reality" shows.

She has acted in and produced several religious shows, so together they make a very unpleasant pair.




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