The Future of Reality TV and YouTube

  1. Where do you think the future of reality television shows is heading? Will new forms of technology for example make an impact?

 

Reality television has become ingrained into the current cultural landscape, but it has shifted definitions and features so much overlap between itself and other genres it takes elements from (such as documentaries, educational content and cinema) that while reality television began has a bengre it has “evolved into a discourse” (Lorenzo-Dus & Blitvich, 2013, p11). However, as move deeper into the information the worst excesses of reality television have come to the forefront as controversial or sensationalist news, whether true or not. Attention translates more readily into money and advertising potential than factual accuracy.

 

I would argue that much of the original appeal of reality television – that of seeing normal people (as opposed to celebrities) in unique situations or going about their daily lives – has been somewhat supplanted by websites like YouTube or Instagram. Sometimes entire formats find themselves transplanted into these new environments. For example Allen Funt’s candid camera, which he claimed to be for the purposes of informing and educating the public, find themselves echoed by the “social experiments” which are meant to reveal how the public would react to unique situations. Likewise, stunt reality television are echoed by prank channels and the However, these two genres of videos overlap with each other, and the majority of the time are faked. While this could usually be passed off as harmless entertainment the majority of the time many of these contain outright hateful messages and faked news. For example, in the leadup to the 2016 American elections the YouTuber Joey Salads performed a “social experiment” where a car full of pro-Trump propaganda was left in a neighbourhood with a predominantly black population, and a camera was supposedly left there filming as a gang of black men found and vandalized the car. It was later revealed that those men were paid actors and the entire video was staged, despite being presented as true (Sommer, 2019).

 

This reduces reality television to its basest form, “…a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people whose lives are in turmoil. … a human form of bear baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment.” (Cadwalladr, 2008, p. 5). Social media influencers brand themselves and sell a heightened version of their personality and lives, or project a persona in order to reach a mass market. Much like Lamb’s (2016) comparison of Cathy Comes Home and Benefit Streets, although the Salad’s video pretends to be educational content it is completely fabricated, and has the potential to cause lasting damage to society as a whole. He has since announced his big for Congress in a move reminiscent of Donald Trump’s move from reality television to politics.

 

Perhaps most disconcerting about reality television’s translation into the age social media is the lack of consistent regulation on these videos. Jake Paul, one of YouTube’s are aggressively being targeted towards children with tactics that would not be allowed on television in the United States due to its manipulative marketing, sexually inappropriate content and up to 50% of the videos’ runtime being advertisement. However, because it is on YouTube they do not have to abide by these laws and the influencers can talk to their fans directly – equivalent to a child’s favourite character on a show telling them to buy toys for the show (Nerd City, 2018). “Children under the age of 8 are mentally incapable of interpreting advertisements with a critical eye, and have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality” (the American Psychological Association, as cited by Nerdy City, 2018) One of the greatest controversies to come out of YouTube in recent years comes as a result of this uneasy blend of reality and fiction. Jake Paul’s brother Logan, who stars in his videos and creates the same type of content, found the body of a man who had committed suicide in Japan. Rather than stop filming he continued to keep vlogging and delivered a woefully inappropriate speech about the value of life in an attempt to promote his brand and image as a positive role model.

 

References

Cadwallader, C. (2008). When reality bites, it leaves deep scars. The Observer, September 7.

Cook, J. (2019). 1 year after his infamous ‘Suicide Forest’ video, Logan Paul is bigger than ever. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/logan-paul-1-year-suicide-forest_n_5c2e9b92e4b05c88b70798f5

  1. Klein, H. Klein. [h3h3Productions]. (2016, March 13). The deleted social experiment. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IoTGVeqwjw

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse studies. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4929988-dt-content-rid-10599612_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Cathy%20Come%20Off%20Benefits_%20A%20comparative%20ideological%20analysis%20of%20Cathy%20Come%20Home%20and%20Benefits%20Street%281%29.pdf 

Lorenzo-Dus, N & Blitvich, P. (2013). Real Talk – Reality television and discourse analysis in action. Basingstoke, UK:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Nerd City. (2018, September 1). Parents’ worst nightmare: Jake Paul [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywcY8TvES6c

Sommer, W. (2019). Joey Salads, YouTube star famous for racist pranks, launches congressional bid. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/joey-salads-youtube-star-famous-for-racist-pranks-launches-congressional-bid

 

Dominic McAlpine

The Future of Reality TV and YouTube

  1. Where do you think the future of reality television shows is heading? Will new forms of technology for example make an impact?

 

Reality television has become ingrained into the current cultural landscape, but it has shifted definitions and features so much overlap between itself and other genres it takes elements from (such as documentaries, educational content and cinema) that while reality television began has a bengre it has “evolved into a discourse” (Lorenzo-Dus & Blitvich, 2013, p11). However, as move deeper into the information the worst excesses of reality television have come to the forefront as controversial or sensationalist news, whether true or not. Attention translates more readily into money and advertising potential than factual accuracy.

 

I would argue that much of the original appeal of reality television – that of seeing normal people (as opposed to celebrities) in unique situations or going about their daily lives – has been somewhat supplanted by websites like YouTube or Instagram. Sometimes entire formats find themselves transplanted into these new environments. For example Allen Funt’s candid camera, which he claimed to be for the purposes of informing and educating the public, find themselves echoed by the “social experiments” which are meant to reveal how the public would react to unique situations. Likewise, stunt reality television are echoed by prank channels and the However, these two genres of videos overlap with each other, and the majority of the time are faked. While this could usually be passed off as harmless entertainment the majority of the time many of these contain outright hateful messages and faked news. For example, in the leadup to the 2016 American elections the YouTuber Joey Salads performed a “social experiment” where a car full of pro-Trump propaganda was left in a neighbourhood with a predominantly black population, and a camera was supposedly left there filming as a gang of black men found and vandalized the car. It was later revealed that those men were paid actors and the entire video was staged, despite being presented as true (Sommer, 2019).

 

This reduces reality television to its basest form, “…a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people whose lives are in turmoil. … a human form of bear baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment.” (Cadwalladr, 2008, p. 5). Social media influencers brand themselves and sell a heightened version of their personality and lives, or project a persona in order to reach a mass market. Much like Lamb’s (2016) comparison of Cathy Comes Home and Benefit Streets, although the Salad’s video pretends to be educational content it is completely fabricated, and has the potential to cause lasting damage to society as a whole. He has since announced his big for Congress in a move reminiscent of Donald Trump’s move from reality television to politics.

 

Perhaps most disconcerting about reality television’s translation into the age social media is the lack of consistent regulation on these videos. Jake Paul, one of YouTube’s are aggressively being targeted towards children with tactics that would not be allowed on television in the United States due to its manipulative marketing, sexually inappropriate content and up to 50% of the videos’ runtime being advertisement. However, because it is on YouTube they do not have to abide by these laws and the influencers can talk to their fans directly – equivalent to a child’s favourite character on a show telling them to buy toys for the show (Nerd City, 2018). “Children under the age of 8 are mentally incapable of interpreting advertisements with a critical eye, and have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality” (the American Psychological Association, as cited by Nerdy City, 2018) One of the greatest controversies to come out of YouTube in recent years comes as a result of this uneasy blend of reality and fiction. Jake Paul’s brother Logan, who stars in his videos and creates the same type of content, found the body of a man who had committed suicide in Japan. Rather than stop filming he continued to keep vlogging and delivered a woefully inappropriate speech about the value of life in an attempt to promote his brand and image as a positive role model.

 

 

 

References

Cadwallader, C. (2008). When reality bites, it leaves deep scars. The Observer, September 7.

Cook, J. (2019). 1 year after his infamous ‘Suicide Forest’ video, Logan Paul is bigger than ever. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/logan-paul-1-year-suicide-forest_n_5c2e9b92e4b05c88b70798f5

  1. Klein, H. Klein. [h3h3Productions]. (2016, March 13). The deleted social experiment. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IoTGVeqwjw

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse studies. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4929988-dt-content-rid-10599612_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Cathy%20Come%20Off%20Benefits_%20A%20comparative%20ideological%20analysis%20of%20Cathy%20Come%20Home%20and%20Benefits%20Street%281%29.pdf 

Lorenzo-Dus, N & Blitvich, P. (2013). Real Talk – Reality television and discourse analysis in action. Basingstoke, UK:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Nerd City. (2018, September 1). Parents’ worst nightmare: Jake Paul [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywcY8TvES6c

Sommer, W. (2019). Joey Salads, YouTube star famous for racist pranks, launches congressional bid. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/joey-salads-youtube-star-famous-for-racist-pranks-launches-congressional-bid

 

 

Where do you think the future of reality television shows is heading? Will new forms of technology for example make an impact?

The demands for reality shows are exceptionally high among younger streamers as they are dehydrated by old-fashion context and most importantly have more chances to access various internet platforms than the rest of the generations. In recent years, public attention has been largely positive on ordinary celebrities, Dowling, the Guardian,2017) explained that young YouTubers began their business by dismissed the distance between ordinary and celebrity who believed to be unreachable. He stated, “ they started to wonder why our boring lives weren’t being filmed and broadcast, and so we started doing it ourselves, posting pictures of our arms online, like the Kardashians do.” Therefore I belief that Youtubers will be one of the main features in future reality shows since their enormous fanbase would help to establish a sufficient amount of promotion and concerns. The cyberspace is a borderless field that connects people across the globe. The influential status and net worth of internet celebrities motivate and aspire the ordinaries. The closer they feel to the performers the more sense or believe of reality they could get. 

In order to apply a high degree of reality, producers are required to understant streamers’ most desire which motivates their concern on the program and guarantees its ratings. Based on Wiltz and Reiss’s (2004) 16 fundamental human desires which are power, curiosity, independence, statue, romance, social contract, idealism, vengeance, honor,  physical exercise, saving, family order and eating acceptance tranquility, show producers capture the psychological condition and socio-cultural tendency by fulfilling their desire through onscreen performances. In the last decades, audiences in reality television shifted from distance viewers into direct participants. The Bachelor(2002), Keeping up with the Kardashians(2007), Survivor(2000-) to The Masked Singer (2019-), etc. We could trace and make an insight into the socio-cultural tendency through following the patterns of “reality”. Most of the recent reality shows are highly featured in public audience’s live participation, for instance, online or telephone voting. This is a critical characteristic in performing/singing/competitive shows because audiences’ desire a particular bias (to win a certain prize) would directly increase the investment and popularity of the show. “The reality television genre now dominates schedules, combining empathy and observation in a different way.” (Mountfort,2018).Therefore, this technology will thrive for a long while. Although the voting systems were reported to lack of transparency. Yet young audiences still enjoy the collective power of influencing the contestants’ outcome rather than win or lost. This is a phenomenon in Asian countries as fanbases often assemble their group of voters and continuously use different accounts to vote on the program website. 

In conclusion, I hope that reality tv will be more concern with the diverse public interest (not just money and love) and tendencies amongst young communities. If filming technology advances, more professional fields, like the space programs which set outside our earth, will be welcomed to the majority as it’s rare for the public to access outer earth via efforting private spaceships. 

Sophie Tse 16912888

References:

Wiltz, J. and Reiss, S.(2004)Why People Watch Reality TV. Media Philosophy.vol. 6 (4):363-379. 10.1207/s1532785xmep0604_3

Dowling, T.(2017) We laugh, we cry, we cringe: reality TV turns 20. The Guadian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/

Lamb, B.(2016)Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse studies. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4929988-dt-content-rid-10599612_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Cathy%20Come%20Off%20Benefits_%20A%20comparative%20ideological%20analysis%20of%20Cathy%20Come%20Home%20and%20Benefits%20Street%281%29.pdf 

Weeks 11 and 12 the future of reality tv.

I hate to open a post like this, but, with a few exceptions, I cannot stand reality television. Even the use of the “reality” to describe it gives it too much dignity in my opinion, and as with most genres that I vehemently dislike I don’t really consume it.

However, I am expected to engage with it on some level for this course, as such I’ve decided to talk a little bit about where I think reality TV is going and I think it’s going online.

Not in the same way that television and film are generally heading online with the rising ubiquity of streaming services, but in a more independent, viewer and producer way.

The only reality show that I can stomach is on YouTube and it’s called Buzzfeed Unsolved, it’s also an exception to my general distaste for Buzzfeed. The hosts Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara investigate unsolved crimes and alleged supernatural occurrences and while they make fun of each other they do so in a way that friends often do, making fun of each other’s quirks and polar opposite opinions on whether or not the supernatural exists. They also take and answer questions from the audience (Bergara, 2016). This is where I think that YouTube is the future of reality tv, YouTube more than television allows for interaction between the audience and the producers that television does not. This adds to the feeling of seeing real people doing real things and the perceived connection between the average person and the people they see in their entertainment as spoken of by Blitvich & Lorenzo-Dus (2013)

There is a very dark side to this, however, as spoken of, again by Blitchish & Lorenzo-Dus (2013) controversy breeds views and YouTube breeds money. This is my honest opinion has lead to, among other things the trainwreck in slow motion that was Logan Paul’s visit to Japan. if you wanna talk about impoliteness, let’s talk about Logan Paul going out into a forest known as a suicide location, filming the body of a suicide victim and uploading it to YouTube and leaving it there until the controversy was such that he had no choice but to take it down (ABC News, 2018). Despite all of this, he’s still around and still making videoes. I don’t see this as much more tasteless than what reality tv usually gets up to. As far as I know, they’ve never done that, but I wouldn’t put it past them given the “all publicity is good publicity” mindset.

Blitvich, P. G., & Lorenzo-Dus, N. (2013). Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan Limited.

Bergara, R. (Producer). (2016). Buzzfeed unsolved [Television series]. New York, NY: YouTube.

ABC News. (2018, January 2). YouTube star under fire for video of apparent suicide victim [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjNFGZLJLss

Week Twelve: Reality TV

What effects do you think that reality television has on society when programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show are labelled as ‘tabloid trash’ and docu-soaps such as Benefits Street are called ‘poverty porn’?

The effects of reality television (RTV) on society can be identified through RTV shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show (2005-2019) and Benefits Street (2014-2015). While RTV has allowed ‘ordinary’ people to appear on screens, it has also come at a price. The voyeuristic appeal of RTV allows viewers to see into the lives of others and pass judgement without ever having to interact with them personally. This allows the people RTV to become representative of all those in similar situations, which is concerning if the portrayal is largely negative. This can be seen by the audience reaction to the ‘poverty porn’ labelled Benefits Street.  Slade, Narro, and Buchanan (2014) acknowledge “society is nosey” in relation to RTV, but to the extent that we allow vulnerable members to be readily presented and further ostracised on national television. This is why exploitation is a constant concern in reality to RTV. This is especially common in shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show which rely heavily on participants being “feckless” and “incontinent” for popularity (Blitvich 2013). RTV can also be seen as accentuating division in society by focussing on right and wrong as opposed to the issue itself.    

Benefits Street is a prime example of a docu-soap RTV show referred to as ‘poverty porn’. The term ‘poverty porn’ is  “understood by the public as ‘reality TV programmes’ that document the daily lives of the unemployed urban poor living on housing estates” (Dahlgreen 2013, as cited in, Lamb 2016). Here the use of the word porn is not to do with anything sexual. It is about viewers being able to distance themselves those on-screen as well as their predicaments but are still consume it as entertainment. This raises concerns over exploitation, especially to already vulnerable members of society. 

It has been argued that a show like Benefits Street was produced as a social awareness device, bringing voiceless or underrepresented people into the mainstream. However, it has received more criticism as a ratings (and profit) motivated enterprise rather than social. This is why the term ‘poverty porn’ has been applied. Lamb (2016) discusses the focus Benefits Street puts on the individual and their daily decision making, while largely ignoring the context that put them there in the first place. This creates what Lamb (2016) calls a ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor binary. The families on Benefits Street are often framed as lazy and irresponsible perpetuating the negative stereotype of those on the benefit. The issue here is that they limit addressing the wider social implications that have created this situation, and instead find and use outrageous characters and personalities to draw in viewers. This does little to bring awareness to wider social implications of state of welfare in Britain, but instead uses beneficiaries as a marketing tool instead. This is why using the ‘poverty porn’ label is quite an accurate depiction as it is simplistic entertainment which fails to address the wider social context of those on welfare while using them to get ratings.

The Jeremy Kyle Show was one of the most popular RTV talk shows on national television and ran for sixteen seasons. The success of the show is undeniable, however, the methods used to garner such popularity are more questionable, leading to it gaining a ‘tabloid trash’ label. Cadwalladr (2008 as cited in Blitvich, 2013) summed up the show from the position that it is “a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people whose lives are in turmoil … a form of bear baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment.” (p. 267). The shows reliance on finding extreme or over-dramatic personalities, definitely questions the shows morals, but so does the facilitation of the show. Jeremy, the shows host often employs techniques of spectacular confrontation to draw out drama as well as using lie-detector and DNA tests to create a scenario of truth or lie, right or wrong to which he is an authority on the matter (Blitvich, 2013). This transfers into society by supporting that idea that there is only right and wrong. This removes the opportunity for discussions that lead to more understanding and constructive resolutions. Simplifying a problem down to who was right or wrong doesn’t even guarantee the matter is resolved. This is the issue with shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show being labeled as ‘tabloid trash’. It draws influences audiences and society to pay more attention to who is right and who is wrong, rather than addressing the root of the problem.

References:

Blitvich, P. G. (2013). Real talk : Reality television and discourse analysis in action. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse Studies, (2).

Slade, A. F., Narro, A. J., & Buchanan, B. P. (Eds.). (2014). Reality television : Oddities of culture. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Week 11 – 12 Reality TV

Reality television is program in which documents unscripted, real-life situations. Starring unknown individuals rather than professional actors. Reality TV tends to show confessionals, where contest is being discussed where they reflect on provide context as depicted on screen. Take for example “Cathy come home”, a recording of a homeless person who lives off the streets of British, the show also has a live studio audience who are involved in the production of the reality TV and uses hidden surveillance to capture every moment on camera for the viewers.

Throughout the productions of Reality TV, it has changed over time and some viewers may argue that a particular Reality TV show, shows a lack amount of realism. As it is called “Reality” it stems from what society sees every day and how we as the people deal with different situations in life. This is important however because the viewers/audience decides the fate of any show. If the number of viewers/audience decreases then the show must be stopped and if the numbers increases the show may continuing being on air. Mixing of genres in Reality Tv is also another aspect that can keep a Reality TV show going. For example; Survivor, it is a show where contestants compete in a number of tasks to win the final prize. The show is thrilling because the contestants are given hard tasks to accomplish, it is also adventurous as each season of the show has a different location. Usually the contestants have never been to these locations.

What effects do you think that reality television has on society when programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show are labelled as ‘tabloid trash’ and docu-soaps such as Benefits Street are called ‘poverty porn’?

Reality Television takes real people and real events and creates some form of entertainment out of this reality. Shows such as, the Jeremy Kyle show and Benefits street are classic, well known examples of reality TV, however some critics have found other terms to use, such as tabloid trash and docu-soaps. The main concern of this criticism is that these shows are exploitative and that they take the situations of struggling families and people and make entertainment out of their suffering. The term that would be used to then group these shows together, is poverty porn.  Lamb (2016) describes this as a distance between what is being viewed and the audience and the unethical purpose of these kinds of TV shows.  Both the Jeremy Kyle show and Benefits street, with their individual critiquing titles could be called examples of poverty porn however, Lorenzo & Blitvich (2013) discuss how Reality Television is difficult to categorize as a genre and instead labels it as a discourse. They mention how the many different styles of RTV such as,  focus on ordinary people, voyeurism, audience participation and stimulation of real life, have different communicative purpose and so each style is in a way a separate genre. Therefore, when we now look at the Jeremy Kyle show and Benefits streets and view how there labeling as poverty porn affects society, we need to consider them as almost separate entities.

The Jeremy Kyle show began in 2005 and for sixteen seasons it was ITV’s most popular show. IT feature host, Jeremy Kyle, who attempts to resolve personal issues between guests who come on the show. The frequent use of a lie detector to prove or disprove innocence is a common tool on the show and is often the clinching moment when a truth is revealed. Often the show checks in with guests to see how they are doing after the show, sometime in the future. Very recently the suicide of a guest of the show is being investigated and ITV is being pressured to pull the show (Doward 2019) Which brings us around to our question, of the effects of these diminutive titles in regards to RTV. Lamb (2016) makes note of the particular ways in which camera, setting and narration are evidence of RTV being considered more than trash TV. The way in which these particular devices are used are to garden sympathy, to tell a wider story and to educate. Using Cathy come home as an example we can begin to see that there is more to the genre or discourse than simple entertainment. But is this true about Jeremy Kyle?  You don’t need to find a peer reviewed journal article to work out what most people consider RTV to be. Low brow, simple entertainment, but Hill (2014) discusses the embedded nature of RTV and breaks down the millions of dollars spent on each show and each season of each show. Jeremy Kyle ran for sixteen seasons before this current controversy. So what does it say about society when its called poverty porn yet obviously consumed in such massive quantity?

Perhaps we start to see a dispassionate audience. Who criticizes the show, but perhaps gains some form of reflection, where they see an us and a them and are happy that they are not the us?

Benefits street was a Channel four documentary series about the lives of the people living on Turner street. A highly controversial show, that some call exploitative and others exposing to the poor lives led by the people on Turner street. Lamb (2016) details that the first season of benefits street was the most successful show on Britain’s channel four.  This then creates the problem in deciding how we determine the societal impact on the titling of these shows as poverty porn. Because they are consumed on such a scale, it must mean that there is an almost guilty pleasure obtained from viewing these shows. According to a Guardian article in July of this year, four million people are trapped in deep poverty. Living well below the breadline. This has been blamed on everything from budget cuts to the growing divide between rich and poor (Butler 2019) Over fifty new RTV shows were launched in March alone this year (Dehnart) We can call these shows poverty porn, especially the ones which film the lives of the impoverished, but perhaps justify our indulgence by saying that what we are doing is bringing awareness to an issue. This is what was used as a justification for the making of Benefits street (Lamb 2016) But the issues, clearly have not gone away and are arguably getting worse. But, we are still watching these shows. 

So what does that say about society? I would argue that there is a clear need by people to view the lives and challenges of others. That the chance to place ourselves above people in society, compare our lives against theirs is unmissable. That is not to say however that there are not examples of RTV that do help people or to even say that the way in which the shows are created, as in the cinematic styles used, is not done without intention. We all watch these shows for a reason. We all also seem to rail against them as exploitative trash. My summary would be that there is a need to watch, that reality Television is a sort of guilty pleasure. As we can see that people critique these shows, however they still clearly watch them.

References 

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

Doward, J (2019) Family of Jeremy Kyle ‘suicide’ guest demand ITV files’ release: Retrieved https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/oct/06/family-of-jeremy-kyle-suicide-guest-demand-itv-files-release

Hill, A (2014) Reality TV and Key ideas in Media Studies: London, England: Taylor& Francis Group

Dehnart, A (n.d) Spring 2019 reality TV schedule and guide. Retrieved October, 31, 2019 from https://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/2019/03/spring-2019-reality-tv-schedule-and-guide/

Butler, P (2019) More than 4m in UK are trapped in deep poverty, study finds:Retrieved https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/29/uk-deep-poverty-study-austerity

Week Eleven: Reality TV

In what ways has the genre of  reality television been lost through the hybridisation and diversification of programmes?

In order to analyse the ways the genre of Reality TV (RTV) has been lost due to hybridisation and diversification, we must first look at it how it began and how it was originally defined. 

RTV’s inception was largely influenced by the documentary genre of film. The term documentary was coined and defined by John Grier in 1926, as “the creative treatment of actuality”. As a genre attempting to portray itself as authentically ‘real’, RTV creators have borrowed various techniques from documentary in order to strengthen the ‘real-ness’ of their shows. This includes elements such as hand-held cameras, interviews or confessions and voice-over narration. Although being heavily influenced stylistically by documentary, the RTV genre has been defined as genre that “gets its name not for being true to everyday conditions, but for the fact that it uses real people, albeit in exceptional situations, and focuses on their personalities and individual dramas” (Kavka, 2012, p. 233). From this definition we can understand RTV as a genre that incorporates real people as the fundamental element. However, as more and more types of RTV have been created over the years through hybridisation and  diversification, the genre has become somewhat lost in amongst the staggering variety of RTV programmes that currently exist.

RTV shows are perpetually being created and recreated all the time. Hill (2005) sums this up by stating, “The development of reality programming is an example of how television cannibalises itself in order to survive, drawing upon existing genres to create successful hybrid programmes, which in turn generate a new television genre” (p. 23-24). This can be exemplified in an RTV show like Survivor (2005), which is a mixture of tabloid journalism, game show/talk show, soap operas, sports tv, documentary as well as leisure and instructional programming. From the perspective of Hill (2005) we can identify RTV as a permanently changing genre underpinned by its hybridisation of other genres. By combining so many elements from other genres, it makes it difficult to accurately define RTV as a genre on its own. As a result it is more easily described as a fluid variant of many other genres, rather than an outright genre.

The diversification of RTV has also impacted the ability to understand it as its own genre. Kavka (2012) expresses the idea that there are so many types of RTV, that a “generic haziness” has been created. The issue here is that while all these shows fall under the category of RTV, the shows themselves can vary wildly in terms of the subject matter, how they are produced, who the audience is and so on. Evidently, subgenres are created that more accurately define an RTV show, but the constant widening of the RTV umbrella has diluted its definition as a genre. Types of RTV include doco-soaps, game shows, hidden camera, talk shows, emergency services, cooking, medical, makeover and the list is always growing. Examples that demonstrate the broadness of RTV, even just in New Zealand include, Gone Fishin’, First Dates NZ, Police 10-7, Celebrity Treasure Island, My Kitchen Rules and Grand Designs NZ. Lorenzo-Dus and Blitvich (2013) sum up the rampantly growing nature of RTV genre by stating “It started out as a genre, but it has certainly evolved into a discourse” (p. 11).

The hybridisation and diversification of RTV programming has played a definitive role in the genre’s rapid expansion. At the same time they have also made it difficult to settle on the definition of RTV as a genre, as new subgenres are constantly being created. Subsequently RTV as an overarching genre has lost meaning as subgenres and newer variations provide more accurate representations of RTV programming.     

References:

Hill, A. (2005). Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television. London: Routledge.

Kavka, M. (2012). Reality TV. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University

Press.Lorenzo-Dus, N & Blitvich, P. (2013). Real Talk – Reality television and Discourse Analysis in Action. Basingstoke, UK:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Week Eleven and Twelve: Reality TV

Question:

  1. In what ways has the genre of  reality television been lost through the hybridization and diversification of programmes?

Answer:

To Defining Reality Television (RTV) as unscripted programmes that involve ordinary people, rather than actor is something contestable in today’s society. Today, Reality Television seem to have a blend of competition, makeovers of people, their homes and their gardens, dramatic scenes, and/or factual narratives all in one show. Ultimately, this genre tends to over fantasized the the notion of ” reality” in diverse forms of entertainment. There are two major ways that this genre has been lost through the hybridization and diversification of programmes. Firstly, by keeping the hungriest of viewers satisfied by presenting what is on demand being . Secondly, through production techniques of reality TV shows

The reason why reality TV has been lost could be because the audience dictates a reasonable amount of what RTV creators can successfully produce. Regardless of how good or bad a reality TV show is, ultimately, it is the audience which decides if the show is entertaining enough to keep airing on TV. Reality TV shows constantly reinvent themselves and are a mixture of different genres; one of the reasons they do this is to stay captivated to their viewers and audiences (Blitvich & Garcès, 2013). Hence, RTV shows tend to put ordinary people in unrealistic, dramatic, challenging situations – such as Survivor where the contestants are taken to an isolated island and are expected to survive without modern comforts as well as compete in sports activities. Interestingly, the RTV Survivor, itself is a combination of tabloid, competition, sports TV, tabloid, and challenges around the themes of confessional and dramatic drama. As a result, all these elements and genres are put into one reality show and thus there are various factors in the show which attract audiences and keeps them magnetized.

Secondly, the reason why Reality TV has been lost tends to be the method of production and camera techniques. RTV has roots in other more established genres such as soap opera-type media and documentary techniques. Hence from multiple genres the adaptation of today’s reality TV seem to be constructed. For that purposes, Hill (2005) states, “the development of reality TV is a great example of how television, to survive, draws upon existing genres to create a hybrid programme which eventually becomes distinct enough to be considered a genre of its own” (pg 23-24). For example, in relation to documentary-type media, modern-day reality TV uses a mixture of techniques from the USA media platforms, the French and the British television platforms. For instance, in the USA, Direct Cinema were more observational, with no analysis of what was occurring as well as more intimate. While the French Cinema Verite was more concerned with creating a relationship with the subject matter, so viewers would often see an interviewer or a camera person appearing in the shot and interacting with the subject. Similarly, in the British Cinema platform, there was an extensive focus onto mundane citizens day to day living. As a result, the influences of international early cinema and TV documentary techniques and elements are simultaneously adopted throughout the RTV spectrum. For example, the reality TV show, Cathy Come Home (which is considered as a docu-drama) correlates with early cinema and TV documentary elements and techniques. In fact, Cathy Come Home has paid actors in but it is still mimicked as a reality show due to the attention it seeks by focusing on mundane aspect of human life which is family and homelessness. Close-ups of the characters allowing the audience to feel a connection to the subjects. Finally, Lamb (2016) mentions that, “reality television has overtaken the docudrama as the most popular form of television programming combining documentary and drama” (pg 6).

To conclude, the mixture of other genres as well as the audience, play a role as to how the reality TV genre has been lost. Without a doubt, reality TV has been greatly influenced by those techniques highlighted in this blog, thus, Reality TV has become lost through this diversification and hybridization of other mixed genres.

References:

Blitvich, Garcès., P. (2013). Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action. Macmillan Limited. Retrieved from, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/aut/detail.action?docID=1588781.

Brenton, S., & Cohen, R. (2003). Shooting People: Adventures in Reality TV. New York: Verso.

Hill, A. (2005). Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television. London: Routledge.

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse Studies, (2), 2-21.

Reality Bites: The Future of Reality TV

Where do you think the future of reality television shows is heading?  Will new forms of technology for example make an impact?

Reality TV, documentary and all filmed versions of reality have always been subject to a reality_tv_collagedistortion of the truth, due to the perspective of the cameraman / director / producer. From Nanook of the North in 1922 to Real Housewives of Auckland, there has always been a difficult relationship with the need to make a coherent story and the fact that reality is, well, real. Often boring, complicated and built on circumstance, it is hard to present a real situation in an entertaining way. Reality TV as a concept is benign enough, but because of the complexities of filming real life, the bulk of it seems to lend itself to cheapness, exploitation and lazy filmmaking. However, there are positive developments in the field, and I believe there is hope yet for Reality TV.

downloadThe first actual documentary was the infamous Nanook of the North (1922) in which filmmaker Robert Flaherty changed so many details of the Inuit experience he filmed that he essentially created a new, whitewashed depiction of the race – one which permeated western beliefs for decades to come. John Grierson describes documentary as “The creative treatment of actuality,” (Bauer, 2019) and in this definition, we encounter the problem. It is impossible to free ourselves from the doors of perception (Huxley, 1963), so all attempts to film reality will always be coloured by the opinions/ beliefs of the filmmakers. There have been attempts, to be sure. High School (1968), directed by Frederick Wiseman, attempted to remain impartial, a few others tried too, but at the end of the day, even the simple action of cutting to another shot creates a Kuleshov effect (Hellerman, 2019), subliminally telling the audience what to think about a situation. By the nineties, filmmakers were so well aware of the way that Reality TV opened itself up to exploitation, they even made a movie about it – Reality Bites (1994), (Possibly the most nineties movie ever made). In it, despite all his good intentions, Ben Stiller can’t help but turn his girlfriend’s TV show into a shameless cash grab full of drama and bad music cues. Today, that sounds a lot like many of the 750 reality TV shows that America aired on cable TV last year (Bauer, 2019).

Flicking through channels one night, I counted 8 out of ten channels running reality abc-bachelor-season-23-meet-cast-1546889807-5291shows. The other 2 were re-runs and the News. It can often be depressing, especially when so many people are aware of the false reality presented by these shows (Bauer, 2019). Big Brother, Dance Moms, The Kardashians, Married at First Sight, The Bachelor… just a teensy little bite of the mass of controversial “reality” TV that is on these days. Dance Moms has been accused of child exploitation (Marthe, 2016), Kim Kardashian is a walking, talking controversy and The Bachelor has contestants speaking out about traumatic events on set (Brookes, 2019). Not to mention the awful Benefits Street (Lamb, 2016), which had measurable negative effects on people’s perception of poor people in Britain.

maxresdefaultBut not all Reality TV is bad. There are some that genuinely influence people in a positive way, and spread a positive message. RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 – present) is self-aware, entertaining, and has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on acceptance of homosexuality, transgenderism and queerness in society today, bringing drag and the people involved in it into the mainstream. Fun, inoffensive shows like Nailed It (2018 – present), a show about regular people attempting to make professional cakes, are positive, safe and entertaining, and even shows like Extreme Home Makeover (2003 – 2012), while still rather exploitative, at least present their subjects in a sympathetic framing – reminiscent of Cathy Come Home (Lamb, 2016). I also want to point out that millions of people nowadays consume media online – through “Vloggers.” People who maxresdefault (1)are in control of their own filmmaking, editing and story structure, and therefore far more able to control their own level of exploitation. If you watch YouTube for example, the biggest online phenomena right now are PewdiePie, who is really just a guy who plays Minecraft and talks about memes, and Shane Dawson, who makes documentaries where he tries to humanise controversial YouTubers, and who people love because of how relatable he is, because of his multiple mental health and self-confidence issues (Ramasubbu, 2018).

To be honest, though there are plenty of trashy reality shows out there, I can see a much more diverse and interesting future on the horizon. With social media and the internet, people have more access to their audiences, and the mix of vlogging culture and reality TV could really make for some interesting content in future. Of course there will always be trash TV – as long as people make media, some of it is going to be bad. But it’s clear that people want to see other people just living their lives honestly, and we’ll continue to find new ways to do that.

References

 

Flaherty, R. (1922) Information retrieved October 30, 2019 from https://www.criterion.com/films/574-nanook-of-the-north

 

Bauer, J. (October, 2019) Documentaries vs. Reality TV: How They Shape Truth – Wisecrack Edition. Retrieved October 30, 2019 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNMV39sKyU4&t=929s

 

Huxley, Aldous, 1963. The Doors of Perception : and Heaven and Hell. New York :Harper & Row, 1963.

 

Hellerman, J. (January, 2019) The Kuleshov Effect: Everything You Need To Know. Retrieved October 30, 2019 from https://nofilmschool.com/Kuleshov-effect-definition

 

Marthe, E. (August 2016) The ‘Dance Moms’ Stars and Their Battle with Alleged Stalkers and Pedophiles. Retrieved October 30, 2019 from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wjee3m/the-dance-moms-stars-and-their-battle-with-alleged-stalkers-and-pedophiles

 

Brookes, E, October 2019. Ex Bachelor contestant Naz Khanjani says dating shows are a ‘disaster’ Retrieved October 30, 2019 from https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/116771111/ex-bachelor-contestant-naz-khanjani-says-dating-shows-are-a-disaster

Lamb, B. February 2016. Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street, Journalism and Discourse Studies Journal. ISSN 2056-3191

 

Ramasubbu, S. July 2018. 20 YouTube Channels Your Kids Probably Already Follow. Retrieved October 30, 2019 from https://www.cyberwise.org/single-post/2018/06/29/20-YouTube-Channels-Your-Kids-Probably-Already-Follow