Has Reality TV Become Too Violent?

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Authorities are questioning whether reality shows have become too violent after the recent arrest of a 20-year-old reality star for assaulting her fiancé.

Amber Portwood, a young Indiana mother featured on the MTV show "Teen Mom," was caught on camera punching and slapping Gary Shirley in front of their now 2-year-old daughter.

"On Aug. 14, 2009 ... Portwood shoved Shirley against a wall, slapped him on the face, and choked him," Anderson Police Detective Mitch Carroll told ABC News Indianapolis affiliate WRTV. "The incident was witnessed by the couple's one-year-old child, who sat in a child seat on a nearby bed."

The footage has turned reality television into real life trouble for Portwood. Such conduct constitutes a felony in Indiana. The young mom has been charged with domestic violence and could face up to three years in jail and $10,000 in fines if convicted.

MTV, which handed over unedited footage of the incident, said "they are cooperating" and "hope for a quick and fair resolution."

While reality programming is not known for being tame, aggression on such shows appears to be on the rise. The trend is evident from the verbal abuse on shows like Hell's Kitchen to the physical confrontations on "The Reality Housewives of New Jersey" and "Jerselicious."

Still, producers like Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross insist conflict and violence is a part of life and it sells.

"Producers want extreme behavior - that's what gets people talking; that's what gets people buzzing," he said. 

Until viewers demand change, this harsher reality is likely here to stay.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.