Academic Scholarship

Multiracialism on The Real World and the Reconfiguration of Politics in MTV’s Brand During the 2000s

Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture, 8(2), 132-146, April 2010

Popular Communication cover Jonathan B. Kraszewski, Ph.D.
College of Communication and the Arts

This essay argues that The Real World’s focus on multiracial identity is part of MTV’s efforts to rebrand itself as being more tolerant of all political opinions in the 2000s. Post-2000 seasons of The Real World contain two different portraits of multiracialism that appeal to viewers across the political spectrum. The liberalism in these seasons comes from multiracialism functioning as a liberal utopia free of racism, one where fluidity, not hostility, defines race relations. At the same time, these seasons appeal to conservative sensibilities by making multiracial cast members models of neoliberal self-management that conservatives recently have used to justify dismantling a liberal, civil-rights welfare state. While neither the liberal nor the conservative portraits of multiracialism on post-2000 seasons of The Real World appear to be overtly racist, I unearth subtext where The Real World articulates multiracialism to white supremacy and anti-blackness.


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