In what ways has the genre of reality television been lost through the hybridization and diversification of programmes?
As reality TV itself reflects lots of real-life situations with different genres such as romance, horror, and family drama, et cetera within one episode as well as describes the social issues that people undergo in particular time and place, it is considered as discourse rather than genre (Lorenzo-Dus & Blitvich, 2013). Since I was not sure why ‘documentary’ could be the genre whereas ‘reality TV’ is vague to be considered as the genre, now I am going to figure out what is the difference between documentary and reality TV. Campbell (2018) argued that while reality TV implies the TV show which contains the features of artificial, stimulating, and entertaining, documentary deals with more genuine and serious subject which does not contain any contrived contents. Therefore, although documentary and reality TV shares similar features such as both of them are filmed based on the real life situation, reality TV has been scripted and more depend on the audiences and viewer ratings.
Reality TV, furthermore, is considered as the hybridization of documentary and entertaining features to attract audiences (Mast, 2009). Sometimes, it causes the misunderstanding of certain people who appeared on the show due to the sensational editing. For example, if one person said some words to encourage other person to escape from the conflict and even though other person agreed about it, it is often edited as if that person wanted to argue and made more troubles (Ouellette, 2016). It is dramatized. Thus, by this factor, reality TV is no longer remained as ‘reality’.
‘Cathy come home’ (1966), directed by Ken Loach and produced by Tony Garnett was also a play which presented hired actresses and actors, not ordinary people in the real world. However, this docu-drama succeeded to attract the audiences’ attentions into the real-world problems in the society although it was a fictional story based on the real life. It helped audiences to form a compassion and homogeneity, as well as developed their ability to aware of the problems in the society and to act upon the way to solve the problems. For “the thousands of Cathys”, people in Britain donated £50,000 in the first month through the housing charity campaign (Lamb, 2016, p.15; Lacey, 2011, p.116). As can be seen, reality TV not just simply loses its identity as the genre, but by combining other features such as drama into documentary, it enables audiences to focus their attention on the broadcast rather than broadcasting the boring documentary itself. Since every audience are living there lives in the real life situation, they feel sick and tired of seeing the world they are familiar with and they used to think in their perspectives rather than considering other people’s perspectives. Therefore, rather than showing the world as it is, the dramatized world could stimulate people through showing them much more entertaining and emotional contents.
‘Infinite Challenge’ is the Korean reality TV show programme hosted by the seven famous comedians in South Korea (Yoon, Kim, Son, & Kim, 2017). I was grown up by watching this reality TV show which gave me tears through the genre of touching Drama, laughter through the genre of Comedy, as well as fear through the genre of Horror. Although there were scripts and deliberate editing to promote the ratings, the comedians’ endeavour to give different messages to audience was highly rated among people (Yoon et al., 2017). Although reality TV is ambiguous as the genre as well as some of the low-quality reality TV shows are threatening people’s mental health, many of them still entertain people in wholesome, and different ways.
Campbell, C. (2018, July 25). What is the difference between “reality series” and “documentary series”?. Retrieved from https://nonfics.com/what-is-the-difference-between-reality-series-and-documentary-series-6e830ed4c500/
Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy come off benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse Studies, (2), pp.1-21.
Lorenzo-Dus, N., & Blitvich, P. G. (2013). Discourse approaches to the study of reality television. Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action, pp.8-41. doi:10.1057/9781137313461.0009
Mast, J. (2009). Documentary at a Crossroads: Reality TV and the Hybridization of Small-Screen Documentary. Sociology Compass, 3(6), pp.884-898. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00242.x
Ouellette, L. (2016). A Companion to Reality Television. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Yoon, T., Kim, S., Son, B., & Kim, S. (2017). When old meets new: An analysis of Korean traditional narrative in the contemporary reality TV show Infinite Challenge. Acta Koreana, 20(2), pp.423-448. doi:10.18399/acta.2017.20.2.004
Where do you think the future of reality television shows is heading? Will new forms of technology for example make an impact?
Since there are a number of reality TV shows world-widely, the audiences’ sensible watching habit is needed, not an unbridled one for the desirable future of the reality TV. Kerns (2013) argue that by watching “16 and Pregnant”, people are helping those teen mothers to become rich and famous although teenage pregnancy is a taboo in the general society for their health safety reason, economic power to take responsibility for their family, and in many other ways. Besides, this quote explains how unreasonable for them to earn all those money and fame in the short period of time: “Many of us were raised to be honorable and work hard to be the best in whatever we do, but if you want to be on a reality competition, something millions try out for each year, that actually puts you at a disadvantage.” (Kerns, 2013). Every teenage student is learned how to use contraceptive tool to avoid pregnancy, however, those teenagers did not follow it by their foolish decision at that moment, and it is their responsibility to deal with their situations, not make money for free just by being as if they are pitiable. However, this reality TV programme encouraged audiences to donate money for them, and this phenomenon may cause the side effect such as the increasing number of teenage pregnancy because it always can be supported by people who have sympathy on them (Kerns, 2013). Similarly, in South Korean society, there are so many individual reality TV channels which earns money from the audiences who requires them to show provocative contents such as bragging woman guest’s boobs and hips. Money and the fame, is not just for the people who contributed hard for their lives any longer in the current society. Therefore, whether the reality TV’s future will be bright or dark is solely depending on the audiences’ requirement of medium consumption.
Moreover, according to Reiss and Wiltz (2004), although current research shows that there are no gender preferences for the reality TV, depending on the audience’s gender and basic desires, the viewing habits will be decided in the future. For instance, if there is a woman who get pregnant, she would watch the reality TV programme which treats the contents of women’s pregnancy rather than men whereas if there is a man who is a gay, he would watch the gay’s dating show programme rather than women. Therefore, there will be more fractionized reality TV contents depending on the gender in the future as well.
In terms of technological development, the new forms of technology such as VR (virtual reality) is expected as the next step for mass medium to go (Dredge, 2017). If VR becomes common when watching TV, reality TV’s artificial reality world would become more realistic to audiences. For example, when it comes to the cooking show programme, audiences could feel like a famous chef is cooking in front of their eyes. Moreover, technological development itself could be the content of reality TV such as how the development of VR impacts our lives. Thus, it is obvious that reality TV will be affected by the new technology.
Dredge, S. (2017, April 9). Virtual reality: Is this really how we will all watch TV in years to come? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/09/virtual-reality-is-it-the-future-of-television
Kerns, T. (2013, August 27). Is Reality TV promoting unhealthy attitudes? [Opinion]. Retrieved from https://929nin.com/is-reality-tv-promoting-unhealthy-attitudes-opinion/
Reiss, S., & Wiltz, J. (2004). Why People Watch Reality TV. Media Psychology, 6(4), 363-378. doi:10.1207/s1532785xmep0604_3