Archive for Introduction

Detailed Research Methods

To find out why exactly the show is popular, I will talk to fans about their perspective.  I will ask them why they enjoy watching the show and then tally the answers.  I will also read through the various Beyond Scared Straight discussion boards to see what exactly people are saying and how they are reacting after each episode.  What I have gathered so far from these discussion boards is that people enjoy watching these “tough” teens break down.  They find entertainment in watching these deviant teens walk into the program all big and bad, thinking they are tough and untouchable, go through the program and end up crying and being broken down to show their vulnerabilities.  People seem to like watching these teens truly get a reality check; that they are not as tough and invincible as they think they are.  The few fans that I have been able to speak to about the show all agree that they enjoy watching how these teens “get what is coming to them” and that they need to get some “sense knocked into them.”

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Presentation Proposal

Beyond Scared Straight is an hour long show on A&E that follows at-risk teens during their visit at a local jail or prison.  These teens range in age from 11-19 and have been getting into trouble for drinking, fighting, doing drugs and engaging in other illegal or harmful activities.  During their visit, these teens get a first-hand look at how life is “behind bars.”  Inmates and correctional officers threaten and intimidate these teens to show them that they need to veer from the destructive path that they are on.

This show has gotten a lot of mixed reviews from the public.  On the one hand, there are many who applaud the show and the various “behind bars” programs that exist in the United States.  They feel that the show and such programs help our youth change their ways for the better.  On the other hand, there are many who feel that the show portrays a program that is not effective.  They claim that studies show that those teens who participate in such programs are more prone to a life of crime.

Do such controversies help with ratings?  I want to explore how shows such as Beyond Scared Straight gain popularity among viewers.  What makes this show so popular?  Are people simply curious about America’s prison system?  Do people enjoy watching delinquent teens suffer and squirm?  Or is the show popular because people care to learn that the lives of these law-breaking reckless juveniles get turned around for the better?  I will conduct a literature review, explore the show’s discussion boards, get fans’ perspectives and attempt to speak with producers from the show to gain more insight.

Clip from show

For those who have never watched the show before, below is a sneak peek video created by A&E to promote their show.  The show follows teens who love to fight, engage in deviant behaviors and talk back to authoritative figures who are signed up by their parents, teachers or guidance counselors to spend a day in jail being threatened and intimidated by inmates and correctional officers.  The aim is to deter these at-risk teens from entering a life of crime and basically “scare them straight.”

Just the beginning

For my project, I would like to explore the show Beyond Scared Straight.  It first aired in January 2011, on A&E.

According to MSN Entertainment, this show is: “Based on the multiple award-winning documentary “Scared Straight!” from executive producer Arnold Shapiro, “Beyond Scared Straight,” much like the original, profiles unique juvenile crime prevention programs in prisons across the U.S.  Each hour long episode follows a handful of at-risk teenagers as they attend a program, which includes an intensive one-day session in a prison.  A month later, the teens are asked what, if any, lasting impressions the program had on them.”

I am still not 100% sure on how I want to analyze the show.  I might look into why society would find such a show entertaining.  Or I might investigate marketing techniques and product placement.

This site is a work in progress…so stay tuned for sporadic updates!