Responding to “The Agency”

The Agency

By the time you read this, you would have realized that we’re watching the premier episode of “The Agency” in class. Here’s the plug for this new reality TV series:

Infiltrating the modeling industry like no other television series has, “The Agency” takes a stark look at the men and women who search for, mold, scold and comfort raw, young beauties — all in an effort to groom the world’s most marketable people. The series is not just about glamour. It’s about the harsh realities of a business in which millions of dollars are at stake daily, and the competition for landing high-end models and campaigns can lead to both euphoric victories and bitter defeats.

Taking a rare look at client meetings, casting calls, and backstage at fashion shows, “The Agency” casts an unblinking eye on the super-high-stress jobs of the people who are completely hooked on the business of brokering beauty. It explores the complex, up-and-down relationships between the agents and their models–who are sometimes naïve, insecure, vulnerable women and men who must be parented and then delivered on time and looking fabulous to demanding clients.

Imagine that MITA (Ministry of Information and the Arts) has assigned you to determine the possible media effects of this show on our Singaporean youths. Using what you’ve learned in the past chapters, drop a professional response in the comments. Just as our ministers have no time for rhetorical reports, keep it short and sharp by pushing a primary theoretical concept which best represents the show.



Filed under Assignment

54 responses to “Responding to “The Agency”

  1. Goh Li Rong

    This show could lead youths to think that beauty equals to being stick thin, especially for the females, as seen in the show. The social learning theory, which emphasizes the importance of rewards and punishments, would be the most apt to describe this effect on the youths. The agency showcased women being severely reprimanded for not being thin enough, even fat, despite them being rather attractive. As such, the women were not good enough to be in the show. On the other hand, women who were stick thin were shown in a favourable light, and did not incur the wrath of the producers. Youths may thus be influenced to lose a lot of weight in order to be seen as beautiful and good enough for others.

  2. The modeling industry is definitely a tough nut to crack. My modeling experiences taught me how life here is a daily battle. However, the premiere episode of “The Agency” has left me in a state of shock!

    The show would definitely impact the youths in Singapore in a negative way. The social learning theory is suitable to describe the effects of this show. This theory believes people imitate what they see through observational learning. The theory also explains that people want to imitate because the characters on television receive “rewards” for their actions. As it was evident in the show, when the models did their work well and maintianed their appearance to the agency’s liking, fame visited them. The models rose to the status of being recognized as a professional model. This image of being slim and slender(especially when one of the models looked like she was suffering from anorexic) portrayed by the show, can easily sway the youth into believing it to be the ideal image.

    Furthermore, such shows easily attract youngsters as it is at this age where they are more concerned and sensitive about the way the look. Moreover, the models in the show are probably as young as them. Here it should be noted that, the social learning theory also recognizes that people imitate the characters they identify with the most, like a character resembling the viewer, or more importantly, someone they would like to be.

    Therefore, in the midst of all the nastiness in the show, the applaud and praises the models receive in the end may appear more appealing to the youth as they are able to relate with the positive rewards.

    In conclusion, any youth viewing this on television could find this scenario desirable, and receives the idea in order for this to happen, she or he must first be beautiful or handsome, and then in order to be beautiful or handsome, they must look like the models. This theory has been tested before, like in Albert Bandura’s study, and this effectively explains why youths feel, and react to the pressure from the media.

  3. The recent reality program “The Agency” will be showing locally in due course. While this program explores hidden realities in the modeling world, young Singaporeans can be negatively influenced in their perception on beauty. This could lead to possible marginalization of “unattractive” Singaporeans, which may create a social divide amongst citizens. This presumption is backed by the theory of Social Learning by notable author Albert Bandura. Through his research, Bandura asserts that people are more likely to imitate attractive people and accurately pointed out its negative effects on several occasions. Therefore, given the setbacks of this hypothesis, appropriate pre-emptive measures should implemented by our local media authorities to reduce its perceived effects.

  4. William Siew

    I believed while we are watching the 1st episode of the series, it incurred many thoughts in our mind about striving in a business world out there. It is sure not an “easy” thing; and especially in the modeling industry, it involves a lot of unraveling emotions and impelling expectations.

    In the show, Catharsis Hypothesis seems very prominent in describing why working class Singaporean will watch this show to release their stress, by relating closely to the circumstances they faced in real life out there. In many scenes, where Lola were rebuked “sleeping” on her desk, Chloe was scrutinized for giving to many excuses not showing her presence for a long time, and Robin was remarked by her manager show reality of real life, whether or not who is saying the right thing or who is stating the facts or who is throwing their weight around.

    Such circumstances were common, maybe not as much, in the working lives of many Singaporeans and usually encompass those who require meeting many tight deadlines or frustration that revolves in their everyday work lives, whether it’s from their boss, clients or peers. Catharsis Hypothesis comes in when they seek to watch such series to “unwind” themselves up, or to get rid of their pent up feelings (ie. frustration) by watching other people to act aggressively in the reality show.

    Hence, maybe we should not frighten those who have yet to face the “outside world” because there are always exceptions; though the movie serves a great deal of content that may prepare us from knowing what’s reality and truth out there.

  5. jiayi

    The modelling world definitely is not a easy place for models to exel. I was shocked when i saw how thin the high end models the agency is looking for. One of the models looked extremely thin but the agency people still asked her to cut down 10 more pounds.She is practically left with bones.

    This show gives a really negative impact on singaorean youths. In this era, the media play an important role in education and even defination of beauty. Younger girls now are already more conscious of how they looked. With this reality tv show on tv, more girls will feel that thin equals beauty equals getting a higher paid job as a glamorous model. As we can see from the show, only when you are able ‘to walk like demons and be real skinny’, one then can survive in this high end model environment,

    Younger girls thus will be influenced by this skinny thinking and try to shed off their weight in the wrong way which may lead to aneroxia.

    If this show is being screened in singapore, there may be an increase in singapore girls trying to lose weight to look as confident or pretty as the high end models that are being shown in the agency.

  6. I thought this show was appalling! I was especially taken aback by the way the models were ill – treated (by themselves and their agents). I know we face cut throat competition in every sphere of our lives and that every one is only bothered about their profits, but to be harsh to others feelings is a little uncouth.

    The Agency, elaborated the contemporary state of the modeling world. I think such shows will have serious effects on men and women all across the world and not only in Singapore. I feel this show promotes an unhealthy atmosphere among the youth. The skinny figures, considered FAT, and the display of six-pack abs and Sylvester Stallone muscles, are all discouraging for the youth, especially for those who try very hard to succeed in the world of fashion and modeling.

    Such shows promote the copycat behavior, of the Social Learning Theory, where young people try to imitate their favorite stars and get into shape by resorting to unhealthy means, leading to severe eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

    Shows like these should be discouraged as they crush people’s self esteem and makes them doubt their capabilities. This display not only affects those who are a part of the glam world but also the regular Joe’s who try to look and feel good.

    We have heard many stories about the effects of such shows on young minds and it is only better to be safe than sorry. An alternative of course, would be to display warnings and spread awareness among people, so that they would not give into pressures around them.

  7. Carol Liu

    What better place to show the ugliness of the entertainment industry than the modelling world?

    The last modelling reality show I watched was “America’s Next Top Model”. When I watched that I did not find it too appalling because they did not emphasize too much about the physical appearance of potential models. However, when I watched “The Agency” I was stunned by the scene where Pink was dissing every single girl who wanted to audition as a model. Every girl that he saw, he told them their flaws, there was not one girl that he had a nice word for. Well I guess that’s the modelling industry.

    However, can you imagine the effects that it will have on the attitudes of our younger generation? As many people still watch a lot of television, the television programs will still have a significant impact on the viewers. This is the theory f media cultivation, whereby constant exposure to the programs and will cause a change in attitudes. By constantly exposing themselves to such shows, the attitudes of the younger viewers will change. This is because they think that whatever they see on television is social reality. So, when they constantly watch television programs that tell them that being skinny is good, their attitudes will change to become one such as “I need to be skinny to be able to fit in”. What kind of society will result henceforth?

    I guess watching such programs is all right, however, the viewers have to be able to differentiate reality and reality television for themselves.

  8. Nashrin

    The Agency is only one example out of so many from the media that portrays that women should be skinny. They should be beautiful. They should be flawless. Although The Agency put it in a more explicit ways, other shows support this stand as well. It is then not a surprise to note that more and more Singaporean girls are trying to follow in the near impossible footsteps of these models or actresses thinking that what is depicted in the media is the correct way. They could go to the extent of being anorexic or bulimic to fit into the supposedly “perfect” image. The males also play a part. Nowadays, Singaporean men believe that what is seen in the media is true, and they deem that a girl is beautiful if she is skinny, mostly without taking the girl’s character into account.

    This type of copying from the media could be explained by Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. It states people learn from the rewards or punishments that they get. In the case of The Agency, those girls who are not in their perception perfect, are “punished” by telling them that they are not good enough for the show but those that are so-called “perfect”, will get better treatment. From here, viewers, both females and males learn that being skinny and flawless is good.

  9. It is obvious that the most plausible theory at work here is Bandura’s Social Learning Theory or the Copycat Phenomenon.

    While The Agency exposes the ugly underbelly of the modelling industry, and would send Singaporean youths the message that outward appearance is all that matters; it is my opinion that it reveals the harsh reality of the working in the corporate world as well.

    For instance, a thin teenaged model was told in no uncertain terms to lose more weight, and a male model instructed to change his hairstyle according to their dictates; all for the express purpose of getting a modelling job. While looking good is a prerequisite for being a model, youths may be led to believe that outward appearance is all the matters to achieve success.

    On the other hand, the pressure that the agents are put under to deliver suitable models to their clients sends a positive message. This is because it highlights the fact that everyone along the corporate ladder has a job to do, and sheer hard work is imperative to achieving success.

  10. Being a model is difficult enough, being a model in a famous modelling agency is even more difficult. For the reason being, the standards that are set by the agency is much higher than the regular modelling agencies. With such a TV programme being broadcasted in today’s society, it might lead to a copycat phenomenon where youths take what they see as being positive and strive to be like the models that they see in the show. If they adjust their diet accordingly and exercise regularly, the effect might be a positive one. However, if these youths choose to achieve the image that they see on TV by becoming anorexic ir bulimic, it would be an undesirable outcome. As media plays a very important role in today’s society, having such programmes shown in Singapore may lead to an increase in the number of youths trying all sorts of methods to shed the extra pounds which will in turn cause more health problems.

  11. This show focuses on the harsh realities of the modeling industry and could lead our youths to think that the ideals in the modeling industry is the same as it is the the normal society. It clearly showed how already skinny models were criticized for being “too fat” and how models who were even skinnier were praised and encouraged.

    In the context of this show, the social learning theory, which emphasizes the importance of rewards and punishments, is highly applicable. Our youths may look upon these skinny models as role models and aim to become as skinny as them because they were shown to have received “rewards”, compliments, and nods of approval from the critical people behind the Agency who were judging them.
    Having the “being stick thin is good” mentality could do great harm to the physical as well as mental health of our youths.

    Thus, The Agency may pose a threat to the development of young minds in Singapore and may also promote a somewhat warpped and rigid definition of beauty.

  12. We now live in an age where media messages that emphasize on perfection and beauty innundate us. Images with even the slightest flaw can be tweaked with photoshop, and made to look perfect.

    Even though “The Agency” is an entertaining programme, the hidden messages buried within promote eating disorders, and put a lot of pressure on girls to be thin – not just stick thin, but skeletal thin. It seems like it’s a sin to even EAT!

    Thus, the theory that is most applicable here is probably the social learning theory. Attractive people are usually rewarded, and the social learning theory states that people tend to imitate such people. By portraying stick thin models as the prime example to imitate/follow, this will definitely perpetuate a very disturbing trend in youths today. We can already see its influences around us today, and I suspect that there will be more to come.

  13. The Agency is a reality show that depicts the fashion industry. Amidst the client meetings, casting calls and fashion shows, it also takes a glimpse at the ugly side of the highly stressful industry.

    As you probably already know, in today’s high end fashion society, one of the requirements of being a model, is to be stick thin. With the exception that some countries are going against the “stick thin” figure and opting for the healthier look after an incident when a model collapsed on stage, the rest of the world still supports the stick thin look. In The Agency, the models were constantly reprimanded to lose more weight, even though in a commoner’s eyes, they seem almost “fleshless”. The agents’ relentless and condescending remarks of the “fat” models made them feel very inferior. They made it clear that if the models wanted more assignments, they had to lose more weight.

    According to the social learning theory, the models that lost weight or changed their appearance, they would probably increase their demand in the industry. Which in a way, is considered a reward. If, however, they chose to remain unchanged, they would either be dropped or lose opportunities. To a model, losing assignments is a career killer. No more burgers please! I wanna be a size “0”!

  14. When I first saw “The Agency” in class yesterday, the first thing that came to my mind was, “How the hell can anyone ever put up with all that #$%@!?” I felt that it dehumanized our human worth by focussing on just the exterior. The models were treated like animals, told what to do and when to do it. Their freedom of chioce was severly limited by their superiors, violating human rights in my opinion.

    But even so, the models albeit having to endure the strictest of regimes, still went along with it, and came back for more. Were they all masochists or merely victims of a media that has instilled warped values in them?

    According to Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, people learn to behave according to how others who are rewarded for their actions, do so. The media has been bringing home the message that being really thin is the new beautiful. The public see these celebrities and models earning big bucks and attaining world-wide fame and popluarity. Who wouldn’t be influenced? Who wouldn’t want to reduce their waist line from a 27′ to a 23′?

    Singaporen youths are no exception. If this show airs in Singapore, youths are only going to have their self-esteem even lowered, and thier perceptions of beauty warped. If this show is aired, then we can predict seeing a lot more cases of depression and anorexia.

  15. The closest reality tv programme that I can relate to with reference to “The Agency” is “America’s Next Top Model” (ANTM). These two programmes depict the ugliness that goes on behind the modeling scenes. Apart from this, they also put across the idea that being skinny is perfectly alright, especially if you bare hopes of becoming a model.

    I believe that “The Agency” does put across wrong messages to our youths. The were scenes in the clip where Becky was screaming at Robin to eat less and concentrate more on work. As it is, Robin was stick thin herself. This would definitely be interpreted by youths as skinny being the “in” thing.

    According to the theory of media cultivation, youths ill tend to change their behaviour to suit what they view on tv. Since, this programme displays content favourable to these youths, they will tend to follow it, thinking that that is reality!

  16. Shamala

    The “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast is a fine example of the profound impact media can have on many. Similarly the fashion industry which thrives on media publicity has a twisted mindset that thin is the in thing.“Perfection” is deemed the only way to gain name and fame.

    The models in the reality show “The Agency” are already thin but are told or even reprimanded to loose weight. This depicts a negative message to the public as it encourages a stick-thin image. Social Learning Theory can be associated with this show and is defined as any social behaviour that people learn by observing and imitating others.

    Anorexia and bulimia are on the rise among vulnerable females around the globe including Singapore. One article in 1997 by The Los Angeles Times titled “Women’s Eating Disorders Go Global” elaborates this phenomenon that encourages (especially females) to slowly disappear into thin air. Many psychiatrists from Korea, like many others, claim that the fault lies with the media which portrays unrealistic images of beauty.

    To make sure such cases do not rise even further, MITA should not air this program or even refrain from airing similar shows.

  17. siti hamimah aminuddin

    Perhaps it is not such a good idea to showcase yet another reality TV series based on the ‘flesh trade’. Yes, it is all glitzy and glossy in the world of fashion but models, mere human beings, are treated like commodities in an agency, in this case, in The Agency.

    It is noted in Pink’s treatment of the girls who came to the office to audition at the start of the show. It is again evident in Becky’s cursing and cussing every time she is in the office meeting with a model. The Agency captures every nasty and ugly detail which surrounds a modeling agency.

    Although, the showing of these series is for the sole purpose of entertainment, it will effect youths who will tune in to it. There are so many latent messages to be had in one episode, most of which are negative. It is not hard to imagine impressionable young things believing whatever they see in The Agency because it is, after all, a reality show. This is an example of social learning theory.

    Here is a thought: imagine Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty ad coming on after or before an episode of The Agency. What exactly do you want youths to believe? Perhaps there is a possibility that messages encrypted in these two may have a desensitizing effect on youth.

  18. From the past chapters studied, The Agency reminds me of the Social Learning Theory. In this case, this kind of media effect is negative because The Agency demands their models to be as thin as skeletons! This portrayal cultivates TV viewers, especially teenagers, both females and males to adopt a mindset that thin (for females) and muscular (for males) are the most desirable. This creates more banes than boons because there have been a rise in the number of teenagers diagnosed with eating disorders like bulimia and aneroxia. Teenagers are at a age where their growth is of most importance, hence if they do not have enough nutrients, their health will suffer long term. In addition, over-exercising and under-nutrition, if severe, will cause death. In conclusion, people should adopt critical media consumption so that the right message will be sent across.

  19. Jane Killick

    “The Agency” is apparently focusing on the models size. Being what we think is already skinny based on our daily routines is not good enough for this agency. Stick thin is what they want. Here, Social Learning Theory is applied as with the media being an influencial form of communication, the youths out there, especially teenage girls will no doubt want to be like those models. Youths would assume that what they see on “The Agency” is what the society is about and to fit in, they have to be like the models.
    The wrong message is portrayed out to the society and this could be dangerous, leading to cases of anorexia or low-self esteem. Is negativity what the show wants to portray? “The Agency” should be more realistic as being stick thin is unnatural and in fact ‘ugly’, instead of an enhance to beauty.

  20. The Agency, is one show that have the elements of American’s Next Top Model, model search show hosted by Tara Banks, and Power Girls, a public relations reality drama by MTV.

    People who are interested in the modelling and public relations industry would be affected because of the social learning theory. Social learning theory of Albert Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modelling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others.

    People who viewed The Agency would view the modelling industry and public relations as what they have seen on the reality drama. They would perceive what ever The Agency would like to show us. But how much truth are there? One would not know unless one is in the respective industry. Majority of what you have seen are true, but the minority, are just exaggeration to give the show an extra punch and the extra ratings.

  21. Derek Joseph sun

    Reality TV have made an impact in present day television programs. We have seen shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice and Amazing race , conquer the television channels and attracting millions of viewers every other day. Though every show is based on different objectives, they each share something in common – DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET TO THE TOP!

    “The Agency” is a new reality television series which depicts the life within a modelling agency. As many should know, a life in the fashion world is not all glitz and glamour. Body weight and size is carefully watched so that a model can be presentable at all times.

    In the show, I noticed that the female models who were already “stick” thin were still asked to shed weight as they were still considered too fat. An example of such a model was Chloe, the demands by Becky to lose 10 pounds even though she was so thin.

    I feel that such a program although depicts the true back stage life of what it is like to be a model, is not suitable for young people especially young girls. As many should know, within a year countless of girls have subjected themselves to dieting and other ways in order to lose weight in an attempt to copy what a model should look like.(Social Learning Theory)

    Therefore i feel that it prepares youngsters especially those model wannabes for the “real” world, the program producers should take into consideration what kind of attitudes and values the show is broadcasting.

  22. Amanda Kee

    With the over-emphasis of glitz and glamor, people of today seem to be living in a superficial world where beauty and money have blinded them. The new reality TV series “The Agency” provides insights to the ugliness behind the scenes of the modeling industry.

    I have always questioned the realness of “reality” TV shows. Singapore youths and in fact all viewers should keep in mind the ability of producers to filter out other aspects of situations to create an over-dramatic representation of the modelling agency/industry. After all, the purpose of such TV shows are ultimately to sensationalize.

    One possible effect of “The Agency”is the facilitating effect. An important component of this effect is priming. When Singapore youths view scenes in the modeling agency, they will remember it and these thoughts will be associated with their future encounters with modeling/models.

    On the other hand, the social learning theory may occur when Singapore youths are attracted to the glamor of modeling. Thus, this might result in them wanting to achieve the “perfect” body of a model. For example, they could mimic the acts of models dieting and becoming a stick-thin, size zero female.

  23. Our idea of beauty has been greatly distorted by the media, as they tend to sensationalize the notion that being skinny equates to being beautiful. The Agency is just one of the many examples to portray this.

    As with Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, people learn to behave according to the way they do in order to gain acceptance and reward. Everyone wants to be liked by others; I suppose most people will feel better when they get praises instead of criticism. Due to this reason, together with the influence of the media, girls would try every means to get themselves skinny, and eventually they fail to appreciate who they really are.

    I guess this reality show will end up being a great hit once it is being aired locally, and chances are, women, especially those in their teens,would be affected and would start to form thoughts of becoming an outstanding model one day.

    Although I do feel that the media plays a major role in influencing the minds of people, I also feel that every individual have a part to play as well. It’s all about self-worth and self-esteem. Perhaps it’s high time that girls learn to appreciate and be contented with their physical traits. Only then will they start to think and behave more positively towards whatever that is being portrayed in the media.

    Every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is –

  24. The unwitting audience would describe ‘The Agency’ as harmless entertainment. Albert Bandura would beg to differ. According to his Social Learning Theory, this reality TV series is nothing but a negative influence for all their viewers. Hidden among the strife and glamour are messages that screams “beauty rules!” What viewers derive, consciously or subconsciously, from the programme is that being beautiful is The Way to a glamourous, exciting and wealthy life. This emphasis on beauty gives the wrong idea that physical attractiveness is essential for a good life. Girls start to pay attention to how they look, and discover in horror that they are nowhere near as thin or as tall as the models in ‘The Agency’. Low self esteem, over emphasis on physical attractiveness, the undermining of other attributes of an individual, and the rise in plastic surgery are the results of reality TV programmes like ‘The Agency’.

  25. “The Agency” is a reality TV show that allows us to see what goes on behind the scenes of modelling. It’s not all about glamour and fame, we can see how much stress each model and their agents went through.

    In the “America’s Next Top Model”, the girls are blessed with curves and their bodies are proportionate. The girls in “The Agency” are close to skins and bones, and one of them was told to lose 10 pounds because the agent claimed that she gained weight. At the end of the day, they showed the scene where this girl modelled in a real live show and did really well after losing weight and mastering her walk. The process is “have your look–>be really thin–>mastering your walk–>boom, you are a famous model.” This will definitely stir up the public’s awareness, especially teenage girls who have interest in modelling. This reality TV show will definitely cause our Singapore youths to be more conscious about their looks and their weights, thus, explaining the increase in plastic surgery and weight lost. This is obviously the Copycat Phenomenon, whereby people tend to copy what they see, assuming they will end up with the same results as those they see on TV.

    Many people would die for a high-end fashion and modelling job, but at the end of the day, it might all just be an illusion. Therefore, I strongly suggest Ministry of Information and the Arts not to air this show as it will develop a very unhealthy mindset among youths in Singapore.

  26. “The Agency” though is an interesting show which brings us to the back scene of the modeling industry, is a bad influence because it portrays the image that girls have to be stick-thin to be labeled beautiful. In the show, a model, Chloe was reprimanded for being fat, when she looks like she is underweight. This, I am afraid, will send the wrong signal to the audiences telling them that other than being stick-thin, nothing else is acceptable. And when people accept the wrong message sent out by the media, Social Learning Theory will take place as the audiences often take what they see as role models.

    It is quite impossible to deny the board cast of such reality shows. Therefore, i guess it really depends on individuals whether to take the show as an entertainment or a role model.

  27. “The Agency” gives viewers more than a peek into the “ugliness” that goes on behind the glamorous facade of the fashion-modelling industry.

    The real ‘mechanisms’ that drive the modelling industry are the agencies that represent the models. To quote one of the agents in “The Agency”: “…what we do here is sell flesh.”

    The young guys and girls who enter the industry in hopes of finding success as models could end up on the ‘shelves of a meat market’. However, apparently in this market, the less meat they have, the more sought after they will be.

    For example, one of the models, Chloe was rebuked for having put on weight, and the 100 sit ups a day did nothing for her, unfortunately.

    To any average person, someone with hips measuring 36 1/2 inches would be deemed terribly underweight. Sadly though, behind Chloe’s back, the agents tactlessly insulted the way her body looked, and then labelled her “fat cow”.

    There also seemed to be a bias toward male models. For example, the agency sent Tyler (“surfer-dude” male model) for re-imaging, wanting to make him look more “mature and sophisticated”. On the contrary, the agency (or the industry) would istantly reject any female model hopefuls as long as they look like they’ve gone through puberty.

    If young girls internalize the idea that too be socially accepted, they should be stick-thin, then the media might have some role in creating body dissatisfaction or body image disturbance among females (Sparks, 2006).

    On one hand, by reinforcing the “ideal body image, “The Agency” could contribute further to the tendency in female viewers to engage in social comparison, and thus body dissatisfaction.

    On the other hand, the show exposes the dark side of the industry that could open the eyes of many young girls to alter their perception and desire to be a part of it.

  28. Jonathan LEE

    This show definately affects its audiences. Even though it may seem like just like any other reality show, the episode shown had drawn some really strong reactions from the audiences.

    This is a clear example of the Social Learning Theory. As audiences would feel that you would have to be a size “00” to make it in the modeling industry and that you would be rewarded with work if you ARE a size “00”.

    According to the Social Learning Theory, generally, people learn behaviors through watching television. The message the show sets across is perpetuating the fact that you have to be stick skinny to make it big. A vicious cycle as other people are trying to stop these stick thin models from sending out the wrong message to young girls.

    It ain’t over till the FAT lady sings… Literally…

  29. When we mention models, words like ‘skinny’ and ‘beautiful’ come to mind. In light of this, and the fact that today’s youths can be very impressionable, ‘The Agency’, which offers a behind the scenes look at the glamorous modeling industry, can have a negative impact on youths’ perception of beauty. The show might lead youths to believe that beauty equates to being stick-thin or having washboard abs. This can be alluded to social learning theory which states that people are likely to imitate behavior that has been positively rewarded.

  30. Sangheetha

    There is no doubt that this show would have an affect on viewers. I mean, look at the message of the show. As I watched it, the show seems to suggest that one can never be thin enough. Almost all the models look like that they are non-existent. How more thinner are they suppose to get?

    With the idea of Social Learning Theory in mind, I have to say that this show would not be a good influence on women, especially young girls. The show may seem interesting to watch. Yet, there is no positive thing to learn from the show.

    People who watch the show will start to believe that appearances are important, and they will assume that the models on TV are visions of “perfectedness”. Like real…

    Imagine a world where everyone looks like the skinny models on the show. Scary…..

  31. I think the Agency makes people stressed up. Everybody is concerned about ‘ personal image’ these days. The skinny models are all too haggard looking. I think they should not be so concerned with thinness. Children will learn accordingly like the social learning theory. There is also the copycat phenomenon.

  32. Siti Nur Aliah

    As much as the television viewers enjoy reality shows, I feel that The Agency would lead to negative effects. Especially to the young audiences, who are easily influenced by what they see and hear from the media. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory rings true here since humans generally imitate what they see.

    The instances whereby models are criticized for being ‘fat’ when they already stick thin is very damaging. Imagine the lasting impact it has on an adolescent? Psychologically, individuals who watch the show will be somehow affected by the images on the television.

    At the same time, the show does expose some truth to the world of modelling. A fact people tend to dismiss. Focussing more to the glitz and glamour. The truth will help open up our eyes to the harsh reality of life.

  33. Dalina

    Shows like ‘The Agency’ create false impression of what is really beautiful. Imagine a young child watching the show and in turn taking in all this notion about being tall, stick thin and having a symmetrical face as perfect. Priming would explain why teenagers nowadays are getting too concerned about looks and being perfect. Inevitably they would start thinking about what is seen as right and perfect.

  34. Daphne

    When I watched The Agency, I was given the impression that this is what the fashion and modelling industry is like – it’s tough and it’s all in the name of looks and money.

    This brings to mind Priming, where it is a process where 1 thing that you think about reminds you of other things in your mind that you associate with the first. In this case, The Agency primes my thoughts to believe that this is what is behind the glitz and glamour of modelling. This is how the agents treats the models and how employers have to deal with difficult employees in the firm.

    It also reinforces that notion that unattractive women, like in Ugly Betty, will stand no chance in such a superficial industry.

  35. After watching The Agency in class, I was wondering how real the show is. Is this what that is really happening in the modelling industry in the states? The skinny models were reprimanded severely for not being skinny enough. Despite how glamourous these models looked during photoshoots and the runway, they face harsh comments about their looks and body behind the scenes.

    Bandura’s Social Learning Theory immediately comes to my mind. Think of it this way. Young people who watches the show can be influenced into believing that not being skinny enough equals ugly. The Agency makes it seems like you will never be beautiful unless you are skinny. And young people will believe it to a reflection of reality.

  36. In the beginning, “The Agency” may come across as an ordinary reality show. But as the show progresses, it is clear that there is more to it. It has the capability of instilling the concept of “beauty = stick thin” into the mind of the audience, especially the youths. The female models in the show are nothing more than mere “chopsticks”. Despite being that thin, the agency still want them to lose weight. Otherwise, there will not be any job opportunities for them. Social Learning Theory emphasizes on the importance of rewards and punishments and that people learn by observing others. Youths may be influenced by the wrong message sent out by this show. As a result of wanting to be beautiful, young girls will want to be stick thin. And many will turn to dieting, which in the long run, may cause eating disorders. Youths tend to believe that the messages sent out by the media are correct. Hence, this show may pose as a threat to them.

  37. ‘The Agency’ opens with a fugly looking man called Pink unceremoniously shattering the hopes of many young pretty things at Wilhemina. One hopeful asks Pink what he suggests she do, and he responds, “Do something else.” The harshness made me want to bash his face in. Yet we all know the fashion industry is cruel; as Becky the resident bitch puts it, “We are selling flesh.”

    It is a world where an extra inch of fat is sin. Chloe is asked to lose 10 pounds or lose the job. She refuses to and ends up regretting. Robin on the other hand is reminded to stop being hungry for sandwiches and start being hungry for fame. She listens and it pays off. This is the concept of the social learning theory by Albert Bandura. The show depicts how the models learn to behave according to the rewards and punishments dangled by the modelling agents.

  38. I will certainly say that “The Agency” will bring negative impact to Singaporean youths (and even all youths – in general). As all of us know, media can easily penetrate its idea into people’s mind. And we, as the “victims”, end up to do whatever things that the media told us to do in such “unconscious” manner (means that you just think that “Oh, i always think about it, too..” and if somebody asks you whether you are affected by the media, you will say things like, “No! I have thought of doing it even before the media told me. It’s just that I haven’t done it yet!”).

    Regarding “The Agency”, I’ll relate it to social learning theory by Albert Bandura, where people imitate what they see others are doing. When youths (especially female) are exposed to this kind of show, they will think that being EXTREMELY thin is beautiful, and they will keep losing weight even though they are already skinny (like what was told in the show). I think it’s dangerous as it may increase the number of anorexic youths in the society. I was thinking whether this show affects guys’ perception on how they view “beautiful” girls. Then I came up with a thought that probably most guys view “beauty” as a relative factor. A guy might like a skinny girl as his ideal girl friend, but other guy might think that chubby girl is always cuter. So, girls… Don’t be fooled by the media! Be confident of yourself! 🙂

  39. Mihiri Salpitikorala

    The Agency shows us a mere glimpse of how people strive to succeed in life. As annoying as the frustrations of the staff of the agency were, their die hard attitudes should be saluted. By emphasizing that a model should weigh “0” pounds, this program like the mantra of all other modelling agencies and models , influences audiences against the goodwill of their health (Social Learning Theory). On the other hand, Priming could also be connected to this programme. Everytime someone who watches it tries to enjoy a fattening, delicious meal, they would feel terrible about mouthing it as the stalk thin models oogled by everyone would come into mind. I believe ‘The Agency’ has the same effect magazines have on women, only in a more magnified form.

  40. The show had the copycat phenomenon written all over it. Although the Agency falls under reality show, we all know certain reality shows have been primed for veiwership and rating purposes.
    However, the underlying issue is the ugly truth: Thin equals beauty. A message drilled into every girl through various forms of media. As a result girls everywhere strive to attain size zero status in spite all odds, even if their health is at stake. No fried chicken, no biscuits, lose 10 pounds. Its like boot camp masked under the glamourous world of modelling. Follow your agent’s orders & succeed on the runway. Failure to do so at your own peril. Characteristics of Bandura’s social learning theory at play here.
    It amazes me how the models potrayed seemed inhuman, treated like slaves by the agents albeit willingly. No girl should be deprived of food glorious food. Which is why I ordered chicken cutlet guilt free after class with no qualms. Burp~

  41. Isa Syed

    The ‘Agency’ epitomizes how the media blinds us into believing and buying into its own perverted construct of beauty. It promotes the idea that thin is in. Already skinny models are lambasted as ‘fat cows’ and told to further lose weight. Since models are almost always regarded as ambassadors of beauty by the youth in particular, social learning theory can explain why this whole preoccupation with being thin pervades society, leading to the prevalence of aneroxia and bulimia among young women in their quest to look and stay beautiful.

  42. well, I think ‘The Agency’ is quite interesting but i do not like the Becky girl in the show.

    In this show they are showing how competitive it is in the modeling production. they demand someone skinny, good looking, tall and know how to walk. as you know, many girls are dreaming of becoming a model. by looking at this reality show, young girls will strat to learn that what they need to become a model is to be skinny. ‘social learning theory’ telling us that we tend to learn to what we saw. if young kids are not taught the false assumption about being skinny equal being pretty.

    we learn what we saw. if this show was broadcasted in Singapore, i bet you’ll more skinny girl around here. you see some in our class mates and around orchard. young girls in singapore are very conscious about their weight, so i think it is better not to broadcast in singapore.

  43. The lastest reality show “The Agency” showcases the behind the scene footage of the world’s biggest modelling agency, Wilhelmina. The premier episode began with Pink criticizing the line of potential models, audiences would be shocked by the harsh criticism. However as the episode continues, we come to realise that they were organising a walk in interview for high fashion modelling. High fashion modelling is different from commercial modelling. Models have to have a different “look”, strong, unique, and distinctive feature. Besides that, models should be thin and have more legs than torso. However, most Singaporean would not be aware of the required look of high fashion and mistake the agency’s requirement as mainstream requirement. According to the theory of social learning, viewers might be influenced by what they view on the agency and regard it as the industry as well as societies norm. After all, Wilhelmin is one of the world’s largest modelling agency, their words depicted in their reality series might hold some authority.

  44. It is a model’s job to stay stick thin, it is a job requirement, that is her selling point. Being underweight and unhealthy is one of the perils of the jobscope. They have to keep to it because it is a job, it is their rice bowl. However for those who are not in the line of modelling, logically, it would make no sense to starve and be unhealthy. Yet, youngsters look up to these models and follow suit. Drawing the social learning theory into the picture, in the show and often in reality, being skinny is a good thing, you get rewarded with compliments and look better in clothes but if you put on some “flesh” instead of being bones and skin, people look at you in disdain. Hence, the youngster strive to look like these “stick people” so as to rewarded and to gain social approval. They need to understand that it is not the same in reality and beauty is not always accurately depicted by the media. In addition, perhaps more organisations like could help enlighten today’s youth.

  45. While many have chosen to use the principles of Social Learning Theory to predict the effects of the media on the viewers, I would like to fast forward to Chapter 8’s topic on the Theory of Media Cultivation in Persuasive Effects of the Media. I believe this theory is very relevant to today’s television programs and movies because the basic idea behind this theory is that the consumption of entertainment media can change people’s attitudes and perception of how they look at the world around them.
    This theory revolves two key concepts:mainstreaming and resonance. Mainstreaming basically refers to how people from different groups and backgrounds, form a particular view of social reality universally,by being exposed to the same type of media. In the case, The Agency is shaping the perspectives of their viewers, especially the impressionable ones, that in order to make it into the high fashion modeling industry, one must possess a certain look and physique. Resonance refers to the “double-dose” effect viewers experience when what happens in real-life is strongly resembles to what is depicted in the media. This is closely associated with the popularity of reality television because these shows are meant to be unscripted and close to real-life situations, which attracts the interest of the viewers. The Agency is also another reality series that serves to reveal that behind all the glitz and glamor of the catwalk, there is a dog-eat-dog world out there, where you can turn famous or be a nobody overnight. As The Agency gives an insight into the life of the modeling industry, viewers will be persuaded by what they see in the show and believe whatever happens in the show can happen in real life.

  46. The impact of this show actually has quite a variety. It is of course quite obvious that certain reactions and responses pertained to this show would be in tune with Social Learning Theory. But I think it is a little bit more than just that.

    True enough, the majority of the people have the tendency to follow what they see, especially if that particular behavior they witness is shown in a favourable light (i.e. awards given to it, praise, etc). This can prove lethal especially to young girls. The effect of this show on males, however, may not be as bad. If guys see the well-built male models in the show and get inspired to tone up their body, it is indeed a healthy thing to do. We cannot deny that. As to whether or not they become superficial after that, caring only about their looks and nothing else, that is another story.

    There is another aspect of Social Learning Theory that not many have discussed, but I think is quite important. It concerns the way the agents behave. This could very well affect people who are about to get into the business, or young fresh agent who are new to the job. They might end up emulating the behaviors displayed by the cast of the show, and treat their models the same way, or do their work the same way. This will in turn trigger Disensitization as well. When workers in offices see a similar scenario happening in real life, they will react as if it is normal and there is nothing wrong. People who have had similar working experiences, upon witnessing what happens at the agency, would probably be able to relate to it and in a way they get to let steam off seeing that they are not the only one getting it. There is a possibility that Catharsis hypothesis comes into play in here.

    Apart from the above-mentioned points, I would also like to point out one of the most important thing: Facilitating Effect. While we are thinking up there that this show might carry negative implications, we also should remind ourselves that different individuals will react differently. For instance, people who are mature enough or knowledgable enough will know better than to follow blindly. This way, this show will instead act as a form of deterrence, and people will avoid following what is on the show. Hence, the overall impact of the show may not necessarily be that bleak.

  47. Ainil Hawa Bte Zulkarnain

    I have always been a fan of reality shows be it Top model, The Apprentice or Amazing race. However, never have I been so appalled before until I have watched The Agency. It is undeniable that in any community or organization, people have to face harsh, stress and challenging situations. The Agency sure portrays these situations but definitely more vicious! Young innocent girls are being ridiculed so harshly for not keeping up to their employer’s demands. We all know that the employer’s demands are logically insane. However, can young innocent viewers out there view the same situations like we do? They might practice the social learning theory whereby they will imitate what is on the show. They will have the mentality that being thin is always good, beneficial and acceptable to the public evem though it is at the expense of thier health. In fact, I can also foresee the potential nutritional health problems like anorexia or bulimia arising under worse conditions.

  48. Jose Kasijo

    While some argue that “The Agency”, thanks to Social Learning Theory, may influence people in believing that thin is beautiful, and is therefore the ideal concept of societal beauty. I feel that it could have the opposite effect.

    Consider how the show will attempt to reflect the reality of the industry; audiences will then see how shallow their approach to beauty is, as well as the ruthless nature of conducting business. So from this we could infer that people may in actual fact become disillusioned with the fashion industry, and the idea of becoming a model; helping to mitigate the perception that thin is beautiful.

    This isn’t a new idea since some fashion shows in Paris and Milan have already ‘outlawed’ models who are so thin that it would be unhealthy to maintain such a body.

  49. The Agency seems to show that models who look like they are of an acceptable weight are scolded and sternly chided to lose even more weight, as much as 10 pounds when they already look so thin. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory would predict that the audience, seeing how extreme weight loss earns rewards, will attempt to follow them too, in a subconscious attempt at rewards as well. Therefore this can’t be said to be the best show on air.

  50. Adnan Sheikh

    ‘The Agency’ encourages people to think that being thin is beautiful. However, the sort of routine and diet required to maintain such weight is unhealthy. Social learning theory will influence regular girls to imitate such behavior. Therefore, it would be fair to say that while people will enjoy watching the show because of the good looking people in it, over the long run, it will have a negative impact on its viewers and there impressions of themselves.

  51. Are reality shows real? I wonder, always.
    The Agency is just another trying-to-be real reality show. And our Singaporeans already have enough shows to watch every night. As a consultant, I should not recommend MICA to allow this reality to be broadcasted for several reasons:
    1. The show is highly framed. Every single scene serves the purpose of producers: To market the Wilhelmin brand. We had seen how hard working their staffs were in order to please any client. Therefore, the viewer may buy the story and think that Wilhelmin is a great agency.
    2. There are too many times the sound “Tut” being used. The more frequent a person heard it, the more easily he/she accepts vulgarities. I don’t think the “Tut” sound helps viewers feel less disturbed. For our young generation, they believe almost in what the show are telling: beauty is becoming skinnier. The social learning effect of the show will have an unpredictable consequence on our viewers.
    Therefore, I urge you and MICA not to permit “The Agency” to be broadcasted in Singapore

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