Reality Television

Reality television is a sports television are usually not classified as reality shows. Reality television offers viewers a glimpse into the lives of people that might otherwise not be seen. It can also be seen as a platform for the subjects of the programs, to clear up misconceptions, and show their story or struggle.

The genre covers a wide range of television programming formats, from [5]

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] 1940s–1960s

Precedents for television that portrayed people in unscripted situations began in the 1940s. The 1946 television game show [7]

In the 1950s, game shows Beat the Clock and Truth or Consequences involved contestants in wacky competitions, stunts, and practical jokes. The Groucho Marx-hosted game show, You Bet Your Life, was primarily composed of Marx’ prescripted comebacks to what was most often candid interviews of the contestants, although some contestants were well-known actors (usually playing for charity). Confession was a crime/police reality show which aired from June 1958 to January 1959, with interviewer Jack Wyatt questioning criminals from assorted backgrounds.[8]

The radio series Nightwatch (1951–1955), which tape-recorded the daily activities of You Asked For It (1950–1959), in which viewer requests dictated content, was an antecedent of today’s audience-participation reality TV elements, in which viewers cast votes to help determine the course of events.

[edit] 1960s–1970s

First broadcast in the United Kingdom in 1964, the Seven Up!, broadcast interviews with a dozen ordinary seven-year-olds from a broad cross section of society and inquired about their reactions to everyday life. Every seven years, a film documented the life of the same individuals during the intervening period, titled 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, etc. The series was structured as a series of interviews with no element of plot. However, it did have the then-new effect of turning ordinary people into celebrities.

In the 1966 Direct Cinema film Chelsea Girls, Andy Warhol filmed various acquaintances with no direction given; the Radio Times Guide to Film 2007 stated that the film was “to blame for reality television.”[9]

The first reality show in the modern sense may have been the 12-part 1973 PBS series An American Family, which showed a nuclear family (filmed in 1971) going through a divorce; unlike many later reality shows, it was more or less documentary in purpose and style. In 1974 a counterpart program, The Family, was made in the UK, following the working class Wilkins family of Reading. Other forerunners of modern reality television were the 1970s productions of Chuck Barris: The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Gong Show, all of which featured participants who were eager to sacrifice some of their privacy and dignity in a televised competition.[10] In 1978, Living in the Past recreated life in an Iron Age English village.

[edit] 1980s–1990s

Producer That’s Incredible, a stunt show co-hosted by retired football star, Fran Tarkenton. Reality television as it is currently understood can be directly linked to several television shows that began in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Thrill of a Lifetime, a fantasies-fulfilled reality show from 1982-88 which was revived in 2001-03.

In 1985, underwater cinematographer Al Giddings teamed with former Miss America, Shawn Weatherly, on the “Oceanquest” television series. “Oceanquest” chronicled Shawn Weatherly’s adventures in learning to scuba dive, scuba diving in various exotic locales, and diving with sharks. The series aired on NBC and Shawn Weatherly was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in informational programming.[11]

COPS, which first aired in the spring of 1989 and came about partly due to the need for new programming during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike,[12] showed police officers on duty apprehending criminals; it introduced the camcorder look and cinéma vérité feel of much of later reality television.

The series [14]

According to television commentator Charlie Brooker, this type of reality television was enabled by the advent of computer-based non-linear editing systems for video (such as those produced by Avid Technology) in 1989. These systems made it easy to quickly edit hours of video footage into a usable form, something that had been very difficult to do before. (Film, which was easy to edit, was too expensive to shoot enough hours of footage with on a regular basis).[15]

The TV show Survivor), added to the Nummer 28/Real World template the idea of competition and elimination, in which cast members/contestants battled against each other and were removed from the show until only one winner remained. (These shows are now sometimes called elimination shows).

makeover theme.

The 1980s and 1990s were also a time when tabloid talk shows came to rise, many of which featured the same types of unusual or dysfunctional guests that would later become popular as cast members of reality shows.

[edit] 2000s

Reality television saw an explosion of global popularity starting in the summer of 2000, with the successes of Survivor (in the US).

In particular, Survivor and Big Brother have all had a global effect, having each been successfully syndicated in dozens of countries.

Reality television had a decline in viewership in 2001. Reality shows with low ratings included The Amazing Race, Lost (unrelated to the better-known serial drama of the same name) and The Mole, leading some to speculate that reality television was a temporary fad that had run its course.[16]

Kim Kardashian, reality TV star.

There have been at least three television channels devoted exclusively to reality television: Fox Reality in the United States, launched in 2005, Global Reality Channel in Canada in 2010, and Zone Reality in the United Kingdom, launched in 2002. (The Canadian and British channels still exist; Fox Reality ended in mid-2010). In addition, several other cable channels, such as Bravo, A&E, E!, VH1 and MTV, devote large portions of their programming to reality programs.[17] Mike Darnell, head of reality TV for the US Fox network, was quoted as saying that the broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox) “might as well plan three or four [reality shows] each season because we’re going to have them, anyway.”[17]

During the early part of the 2000s, network executives expressed concern that reality-television programming was limited in its appeal for DVD reissue and American Idol Rewind is an example of this strategy.

COPS has had huge success in syndication, direct response sales and DVD. A FOX staple since 1989, COPS is, as of 2010, in its 23rd season, having outlasted all competing scripted police shows. Another series that has seen wide success is “Cheaters“, which has been running for 10 seasons in the US and is syndicated in over 100 countries worldwide. In 2007, according to the Learning and Skills Council, one in seven UK teenagers hopes to gain fame by appearing on reality television.[18]

In 2001, the Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program was added.

In 2010, the Tester became the first reality television show ever aired over a videogame console. The show entered its second season in the same year.[19]

[edit] 2010s

By 2012, many of the long-running reality television show franchises had begun to age, setting up declines in ratings across the format. This, along with increasing audience fracture from competing programs on broadcast and cable television, has raised questions about the long-term viability of reality television on the broadcast networks.[20]

[edit] Subgenres

The genre of reality television consists of various subgenres.

[edit] Documentary-style

In many reality TV programs, camera shooting and footage editing give the viewer the impression that they are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities; this style of filming is often referred to as cinéma vérité style is adopted, where the filmmaker is more than a passive observer—their presence and influence is greatly manifest. Documentary style programs give viewers a private look into the lives of the subjects. This process can create viewer-character relations, as taboo subject matter becomes public, and gives viewers the sense that these ‘public figures’ deal with similar issues. Similarly, it can also show contrasting lifestyles and issues. This can give viewers a sense of security because reality programs also display difficulties and struggles.

Within documentary-style reality television are several subcategories or variants:

Special living environment
Some documentary-style programs place cast members, who in most cases previously did not know each other, in artificial living environments; Road Rules, which started in 1995 as a spin-off of The Real World, started this pattern: the cast traveled across the country guided by clues and performing tasks.
loft, each member of the show’s cast was hired to host a television program for a Canadian cable channel.
Celebrities
Another subset of fly-on-the-wall-style shows involves celebrities. Often these show a celebrity going about their everyday life: notable examples include VH1 has created an entire block of shows dedicated to celebrity reality, known as “Celebreality”. This form of documentary follows the lives of celebrities, often as they take on new tasks and ventures. Shows such as these are often created with the idea of promotion of a celebrity prodcut or upcoming project.
Professional activities
Some documentary-style shows portray professionals either going about day-to-day business or performing an entire project over the course of a series. In the case of “picker” or “collector” shows, where professionals source and sell unique collectables, Experts are often brought in to give commentary and appraisal of the items. In 2012, Entertainment Executives and Reality TV Producers launched an open marketplace (CastMyReality.com) for scouting unique professions and experts to build shows around, and integrate persons to be cast in current shows.

The earliest example[dubious ] (and the longest running reality show of any genre) is COPS which has been airing since 1989, preceding by many years the current reality show phenomenon.

Other examples of this type of reality show include the American shows A&E in particular show a number of this type of reality show.
unsigned bands touring and making music as a professional activity, but also pitted the bands against one another in game show fashion to see which band could make the most money.

People with disabilities

This genre is becoming more popular in recent years. Featuring disabled people in real life or extraordinary situations.

Examples of this in the Little People, Big World

In the Seven Dwarves Documentaries such as these offer a glimpse into a small percentage of the population who must overcome incredible feats in order to live a ‘normal life’.

Ethnic American

One subset of documentary-style reality television programming is the Ethnic American subcategory.[citation needed] TLC formally cited low ratings as the reason for cancelling the show.

On March 11, 2012 citation needed]

Both All-American Muslim and Shahs of Sunset have been considered controversial since these ethnic groups have been associated with terrorism. In addition, critics of Ethnic American reality shows frequently state that the portrayals of a particular ethnic group are inaccurate or fictionalized as opposed to “real”.[citation needed]

Minority groups/Abnormal situations One of the major goals of reality television is to showcase the lives of people, different from the average North American. This is a beneficial aspect of reality programming, as it creates an open mind, and promotes tolerance. When ‘Sister Wives’ first aired in 2010, it garnered harsh criticism for displaying a polygamist family living in Utah. However, over the next two seasons, viewers got to see that the family was not much different from the average American family, and struggled with similar things such as money, children, and marriage stress. The show gained millions of fans, who showed support for the Brown family. Likewise, TLC’s show Breaking Amish followed the journey of five young adults from the Amish community who moved to New York to start a new life. As the season progressed, issues and struggles of the cast were portrayed, and the secret lives of the Amish began to unravel.

[edit] Reality court shows

Main article: court show

Another sub-genre of reality television are “court shows”, specifically modern-day court shows (at least most of them). Although court shows fall into a subcategory of reality television, this wasn’t always the case. Originally, court shows were all dramatized and scripted programs with Judge Hatchett, etc.

Under the reality-based format, the actual cases with the actual parties involved is the trend. Court shows typically obtain cases in three ways: 1) through use of researchers scouring the country’s small claims courts and sending copies of cases to the producers of their respective show 2) through people submitting lawsuits to the show via their website 3) through people calling the show’s telephone number. In addition to having actual litigants, the “judges” (properly termed “arbitrators” as the pseudo-judges are not presiding in a court of law but a studio setting) are typically former judges, or at least individuals with some legal experience. Due to the genre’s previous trend of fictitious-based cases, terminology such as “real” is heavily emphasized in modern-day court shows.

Courtroom programs are typically talk show genre, often dominating the ratings.

[edit] Reality competition/game shows

See also: list of reality television game shows

Another sub-genre of reality TV is “reality competition” or so-called “reality game shows,” which follow the format of non-tournament disapproval voting or by voting for the most popular choice to win. Voting is done by the viewing audience, the show’s own participants, a panel of judges, or some combination of the three.

A well-known example of a reality-competition show is the globally syndicated Big Brother, in which cast members live together in the same house, with participants removed at regular intervals by either the viewing audience or, in the case of the American version, by the participants themselves.

There remains some disagreement over whether talent-search shows such as the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Emmy.

Modern game shows like Weakest Link, Greed, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, American Gladiators, Dog Eat Dog and Deal or No Deal also lie in a gray area: like traditional game shows (e.g., The Price Is Right, Jeopardy!), the action takes place in an enclosed TV studio over a short period of time; however, they have higher production values, more dramatic background music, and higher stakes than traditional shows (done either through putting contestants into physical danger or offering large cash prizes). In addition, there is more interaction between contestants and hosts, and in some cases they feature reality-style contestant competition and/or elimination as well. These factors, as well as these shows’ rise in global popularity at the same time as the arrival of the reality craze, lead many people to group them under the reality TV umbrella as well as the traditional game show one.[23]

There are various hybrid reality-competition shows, like the worldwide-syndicated Project Greenlight, devote the first part of the season to selecting a winner, and the second part to showing that person or group of people working on a project.

Popular variants of the competition-based format include the following:

Dating-based competition
Dating-based competition shows follow a contestant choosing one out of a group of suitors. Over the course of either a single episode or an entire season, suitors are eliminated until only the contestant and the final suitor remains. For a time, in 2001–2003, this type of reality show dominated the other genres on the major US networks. Shows that aired included The Dating Game that date to the 1960s had similar premises (though each episode was self-contained, and not the serial format of more modern shows). Dating-based competitions like The Bachelor and Flavour of Love often come under fire for their authenticity and the portrayal of the dating world. In shows such as these, contestants fight to win the affection of one suiter, often over a period of a few months. In the case of the Bachelor, the lucky man or woman is often expected to propose to the winner, bringing questions about the authenticity of the relationship. Likewise, reality programs centered around relationships are often victim of ‘Frankenbiting’. This term, coined by program consultant Todd Sharpe, is the process of taking clips and slicing and dicing them until the proper dialogue or context is reached.
Job search
In this category, the competition revolves around a skill that contestants were pre-screened for. Competitors perform a variety of tasks based on that skill, are judged, and are then kept or removed by a single expert or a panel of experts. The show is usually presented as a job search of some kind, in which the prize for the winner includes a contract to perform that kind of work. The show also features judges who act as counselors, mediators and sometimes mentors to help contestants develop their skills further or perhaps decide their future position in the competition. Most judges have a range of different personalities and are often hired by producers for their work experiences, achievements, popularity, charisma and entertainment purposes. The Celebrity Apprentice.
Sports
Most of these programs create a sporting competition among athletes attempting to establish their name in that sport. The Ultimate Fighter participants have voluntarily withdrawn or expressed the desire to withdraw from the show due to competitive pressure.
In sports shows, sometimes just appearing on the show, not necessarily winning, can get a contestant the job. The owner of UFC declared that the final match of the first season of Ultimate Fighter was so good, both contestants were offered a contract, and in addition, many non-winning “TUF Alumni” have prospered in the UFC. Many of the losers from Diva Search shows have been picked up by the company.
Not all sports programs, however, involve athletes trying to make a name in the sport. The 2006 US reality series officially sanctioned tournament.

[edit] Self-improvement/makeover

Some reality television shows cover a person or group of people improving their lives. Sometimes the same group of people are covered over an entire season (as in From G’s to Gents (self-improvement and manners).

[edit] Renovation

Some shows make over part or all of a person’s living space, work space, or vehicle. The American show Life Laundry, in which people who had become hoarders, even living in squalor, were given professional assistance.

As with game shows, a gray area exists between such reality TV shows and more conventional formats. Some argue the key difference is the emphasis of the human story and conflicts of reality shows, versus the emphasis on process and information in more traditional format shows.[citation needed] The show This Old House, which began in 1979, the start to finish renovation of different houses through a season; media critic Jeff Jarvis has speculated that it is “the original reality TV show.”[24]

[edit] Social experiment

Another type of reality program is the without sleep.

[edit] Hidden cameras

Another type of reality programming features Room 401 are hidden-camera programs in which the goal is to frighten contestants rather than just befuddle or amuse them.

Not all hidden camera shows use strictly staged situations. For example, the syndicated show Cheaters, purports to use hidden cameras to record suspected cheating partners, although the authenticity of the show has been questioned.[25] Once the evidence has been gathered, the accuser confronts the cheating partner with the assistance of the host. In many special-living documentary programs, hidden cameras are set up all over the residence in order to capture moments missed by the regular camera crew, or intimate bedroom footage.

[edit] Supernatural and paranormal

Supernatural and night vision, surveillance, and hand held camera footage; odd angles; subtitles establishing place and time; desaturated imagery; rapid fire, MTV editing; and non-melodic soundtracks.

Noting the trend in reality shows that take the paranormal at face value, [27]

[edit] Hoaxes

In hoax reality shows, a false premise is presented to some of the series participants. In truth, the premise of the series is completely different. The rest of the cast are actors who are in on the joke. These shows often served to parody the conventions of the reality TV genre. Operation Repo is another show that uses this. They say it’s reality but it really isn’t because it is staged. The first such show was 2003’s The Joe Schmo Show. Other examples are My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss (modeled after The Apprentice), My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, Hell Date (modeled after Blind Date), Superstar USA (modeled after American Idol), Space Cadets (which convinced the hoax targets that they were being flown into space), Punk’d (involving celebrities in staged crises), Invasion Iowa (in which a town was convinced that William Shatner was filming a movie there), and Reality Hell[28] (different target and premise every episode).

Other shows, though not hoax shows per se, have offered misleading information to some cast members in order to add a wrinkle to the competition. Examples include Joe Millionaire.

[edit] Analysis

[edit] Political impact

Reality television’s global successes has been, in the eyes of some analysts, an important political phenomenon. In some [34]

In 2007, [35]

[edit] As a substitute for scripted drama

VH1 executive vice president Michael Hirschorn wrote that the plots and subject matters on reality television are more authentic and more engaging than in scripted dramas, writing that scripted network television “remains dominated by variants on the police procedural… in which a stock group of characters (ethnically, sexually, and generationally diverse) grapples with endless versions of the same dilemma. The episodes have all the ritual predictability of Japanese Noh theater,” while reality TV is “the liveliest genre on the set right now. It has engaged hot-button cultural issues—class, sex, race—that respectable television… rarely touches.”[38]

Television critic James Poniewozik wrote that reality shows like Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers showcase working-class people of the kind that “used to be routine” on scripted network television, but that became a rarity in the 2000s: “The better to woo upscale viewers, TV has evicted its mechanics and dockworkers to collect higher rents from yuppies in coffeehouses.”[39]

[edit] Criticism

Lighting crews are typically present in the background of reality television shows.

Sound crews are typically present in the background of reality television shows.

[edit] Union critique of reality television

Writers for reality television do not receive union pay-scale compensation and union representation, which significantly decreases expenditures for producers and broadcasters.[42]

[edit] Product placement

[46]

The following is a list of television shows with the most instances of product placement (11/07–11/08; citation needed]. Eight out of the ten are reality television shows.

[edit] “Reality” as misnomer

Reality television shows like citation needed]

[edit] Unreal environments

In competition-based programs such as Big Brother and Survivor, and other special living environment shows like The Real World, the producers design the format of the show and control the day-to-day activities and the environment, creating a completely fabricated world in which the competition plays out. Producers specifically select the participants and use carefully designed scenarios, challenges, events, and settings to encourage particular behaviors and conflicts. Mark Burnett, creator of Survivor and other reality shows, has agreed with this assessment, and avoids the word “reality” to describe his shows; he has said, “I tell good stories. It really is not reality TV. It really is unscripted drama.”[49]

[edit] Effect on teenagers

Social cognitive theory suggests that meaningful sources of identity can be discovered by people in their teens who feel “connected” to what they’re viewing. Thus, when attempting to understand media’s role in the development of teenagers, it is crucial to be aware of the time they devote to their shows like reality television due to this strong influence[50] America’s Next Top Model is often criticized for it’s portrayal of women and poor body image. When faced with the image of a thin, beautiful, successful models, young girls may feel inferior, leading to low self-esteem and eating disorders. Likewise, Jersey Shore is denounced for it’s representation of being a single, young adult. Young people idolize the show’s cast, making them susceptible to imitate their actions, such as promiscuity, violence, and binge drinking.

[edit] Misleading editing

In 2004, VH1 aired a program called Reality TV Secrets Revealed, which detailed various misleading tricks of reality TV producers. According to the show, various reality shows (notably Joe Millionaire) combined audio and video from different times, or from different sets of footage, to create an artificial illusion of time chronology that did not occur, and a misportrayal of participant behaviors and actions.[51] An episode of the NBC drama Harry’s Law used the industry jargon “Franken-bytes” and gave an example of the audio-splicing trick, which is used to force dialogue that is needed for the drama/story/script, but not actually said by the reality characters.

In docusoap programming, which follows people in their daily life, producers may be highly deliberate in their editing strategies, able to portray certain participants as heroes or villains, and may guide the drama through altered chronology and selective presentation of events. A Season 3 episode of Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe included a segment on the ways in which selective editing can be used to this end.[15]

[edit] Restaging

According to VH1’s Reality TV Secrets Revealed, the shows Survivor had at times recreated incidents that had actually occurred, but were not properly recorded by cameras to the required technical standard, or had not been recorded at all. In order to capture the drama, the event was restaged for the cameras.

[edit] Premeditated scripting and acting

Reality television shows have faced speculation that the participants themselves are involved in fakery, acting out [52] Some participants of reality shows have also stated afterwards that they altered their behavior to appear more crazy or emotional in order to get more camera time.

Daniel Petrie Jr. stated in 2004, “We look at reality TV, which is billed as unscripted, and we know it is scripted. We understand that shows don’t want to call the writers writers because they want to maintain the illusion that it is reality, that stuff just happens.”[3]

Professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose family starred in the reality series Hogan Knows Best and Brooke Knows Best, explains in his 2009 autobiography My Life Outside the Ring, that paying unionized camera crews to film subjects continuously until something telegenic or dramatic occurs would be prohibitively expensive, and that as a result, such shows are “soft-scripted”, and follow a tightly regimented shooting schedule that allows for typical work-related considerations such as lunch breaks. When filming soft-scripted shows, the subjects are given a scenario by the producers to act out, perhaps an exaggerated version of something likely to be encountered in their real lives, are informed of the outcome, and possible “beats” in between, and instructed to improvise, which Hogan says is a version of what he did as a professional wrestler. According to Hogan, this would result in behavior that members of his family would never exhibit in real life, as when his son, Nick tossed water balloons at neighbors from a window, or when his wife would wake up early to apply makeup and do her hair before camera crews arrived to film shots of the couple sleeping.[53]

Mike Fleiss, creator of [61]

The History series Pawn Stars depicts three generations of the Harrison family working at their family-owned Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. However, as a result of the filming that takes place there, the four main cast members no longer work the counter, due to laws that require the identity of customers pawning items to remain confidential, and the tourists and fans taking photos and video in the showroom that would preclude this. When shooting episodes of the series, the shop is temporarily closed, with only a handful of customers allowed into the showroom.[62]

[edit] Wardrobe staging

Some shows, such as Survivor, do not allow the participants to wear clothing of their own choosing while on camera, to promote the participants’ wearing of “camera-friendly colors” and to prevent the participants from wearing the same style and/or color of clothing. Additionally, some prohibited clothing with corporate logos.[63]

[edit] Misleading premise

The premise of reality shows has been called into question. The winner of the first season, in 2003, of America’s Next Top Model, Adrianne Curry, claimed that part of the grand prize she received, a modeling contract with Revlon, was for a much smaller amount of work than what was promised throughout the show.[64] During the airing of the first season of A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, in which a group of both men and women vied for the heart of Tila Tequila, there were rumors that its star was not only heterosexual, but also had a boyfriend already.[65] The show’s winner, Bobby Banhart, claimed that he never saw Ms. Tequila again after the show finished taping, and that he was not given her telephone number.[66]

[edit] Instant celebrity

Reality television has the potential to turn its participants into national [68]

In Search of the Partridge Family, which resulted in a TV movie.

Several socialites, or children of famous parents, who were somewhat well-known before they appeared on reality television shows have become much more famous as a result, including Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Kelly Osbourne, Kim Kardashian, and many of the rest of the Kardashian family.

Reality TV contestants are sometimes derided as “[71]

[edit] As a spectacle of humiliation

Some have claimed that the success of reality television is due to its ability to provide [73]

Television critic James Poniewozik has disagreed with this assessment, writing, “for all the talk about ‘humiliation TV,’ what’s striking about most reality shows is how good humored and resilient most of the participants are: the American Idol rejectees stubbornly convinced of their own talent, the Fear Factor players walking away from vats of insects like Olympic champions. What finally bothers their detractors is, perhaps, not that these people are humiliated but that they are not.”[74]

[edit] Participation of children

[edit] Jon & Kate Plus 8

Criticism has been raised regarding the participation of the Gosselen children in John and Kate Plus 8 and Kate Plus 8 as to whether or not the children are being exploited or may be under emotional distress.[75] According to lawyer Gloria Allred:

Every state does regulate to protect the health, the safety and welfare of little child performers […] And these little ones are only eight years old and five years old, they can’t protect themselves, so the state has to be sure that they are safe in their workplace.[75]

In the case of the show, the children’s workplace is their home. At the time the show was being filmed there were no clear laws in [76]

Kate Gosselen defended her position that the children are happy and healthy, and not in any danger. In addition, Jon has stated that they are “in talks” regarding ensuring the children’s happiness,[76]

[edit] Balloon Boy incident

In another much-publicized case, issues have been raised about the underlying motives that led to the balloon boy hoax, in which six-year-old Falcon Heene was reportedly coerced by his father to stage for a frantic, live-on-TV chase for an out-of-control helium balloon, in which he was suspected to be. The police said that the father engineered the hoax with the hope of generating enough publicity in order to get the family back into the reality-show business, after two appearances on ABC’s Wife Swap. In an interview with the Denver Post,[78] child psychologist Alan Zimmerman said:

Using your family or children to please the masses, or producers of mass entertainment who want ratings and a good bottom line, is inherently risky […] They are by definition a commodity in a profit-oriented business.

The same article quoted psychologist Jamie Huysman as saying, “It is exploitation […] Nobody wants to watch normal behavior. Kids have to be co-conspirators to get the camera to stay on.”

[edit] Counterarguments

Despite arguments that realism cannot be achieved in reality shows because the outcomes may or may not have been scripted, Geoff King argues in his book, Spectacle of the Real: From Hollywood to Reality TV and Beyond that even though the contestants are in a fabricated setting and the situation has been set up for a certain outcome, as in real love shows such as The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, these contestants still harbor feelings that make their participation in the show real to them. King says:

I would argue, rather, that the simulated setting stimulates feeling, in part because the removal of the participants from their normal surroundings strips them to nothing but the space and affect of social interaction. The intimacy that arises out of this amplified situation is real – both for the participants and for the viewers.[79]
Love, like television, must be performed to be real. The performance of love will generate the effects of love, just as the performance of reality will generate reality effects.[79]

[edit] Similar works in popular culture

A number of fictional works since the 1940s have contained elements similar to elements of reality television. They tended to be set in a dystopian future, with subjects being recorded against their will, and often involved violence.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a book by George Orwell, depicted a world in which two-way television screens are fitted in every room, so that people’s actions are monitored at all times. (The all-seeing authority figure in the book, “Big Brother“, inspired the name of the pioneering reality series Big Brother.) Another is the impact on pop culture bearing a similarity (at least in the eyes of critics) to the concept of prolefeed, feeding the masses what critics deem as trash television.
  • bookless future society, with omnipresent electronic media and wall-sized two-way home televisions. The protagonist’s wife is immersed in a live audience participation program.
  • “The Seventh Victim” (1953) was a short story by science fiction author The 10th Victim (1965), also known by its Italian title, La decima vittima.
  • Damon Knight, is about a man who discovers that he is an actor in a “livie”, a live-action show that is viewed by billions of people in the future.
  • “The Prize of Peril”[80] (1958), another Robert Sheckley story, was about a television show in which a contestant volunteers to be hunted for a week by trained killers, with a large cash prize if he survives. It was adapted in 1970 as the TV movie Das Millionenspiel, and again in 1983 as the movie Le Prix du Danger.
  • “It Could Be You” (1964), a short story by Australian Frank Roberts, features a day-in-day-out televised blood sport.
  • Survivor (1965), a science fiction story by Walter F. Moudy, depicted the 2050 “Olympic War Games” between Russia and the United States. The games are fought to show the world the futility of war and thus deter further conflict. Each side has one hundred soldiers who fight with rifles, mortars, and machine guns in a large natural arena. The goal is for one side to wipe out the other; the few who survive the battle become heroes. The games are televised, complete with color commentary discussing tactics, soldiers’ personal backgrounds, and slow-motion replays of their deaths.
  • praetorian threatening, “You bring this network’s ratings down, Flavius, and we’ll do a special on you!”
  • BBC television play in which a dissident in a dictatorship is forced onto a secluded island and taped for a reality show in order to keep the masses entertained.
  • Death Watch.
  • “Ladies And Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis” (1976) was a short story by science fiction author Kate Wilhelm about a television show in which contestants (including a B-list actress who is hoping to revitalize her career) attempt to make their way to a checkpoint after being dropped off in the Alaskan wilderness, while being filmed and broadcast around the clock through an entire weekend. The story focuses primarily on the show’s effect on a couple whose domestic tensions and eventual reconciliation parallel the dangers faced by the contestants.
  • Network (1976) was a film predictive of a number of trends in broadcast television, including reality programming. One subplot featured network executives negotiating with an urban terrorist group for the production of a weekly series, each episode of which was to feature an act of terrorism.
  • An American Family.
  • 1987 movie of the same name. The movie removed most of the reality-TV element of the book: its competition now took place entirely within a large TV studio, and more closely resembled an athletic competition (though a deadly one).
  • The film Max Headroom, revolved around television mainly based on live, often candid, broadcasts. In one episode of Max Headroom, “Academy”, the character Blank Reg fights for his life on a courtroom game show, with the audience deciding his fate.
  • Doctor Who in which the population of a planet watches live TV broadcasts of the torture and executions of those who oppose the government. The planet’s political system is based on the leaders themselves facing disintegration if the population votes ‘no’ to their propositions. This episode is often credited as the origins of “voting someone off”.
  • North America, in a nation known as “Panem”. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol (the corrupt government of Panem), every year one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts of Panem, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected by lottery to participate in the “Hunger Games”. The Games are a live TV show where the participants must fight in an outdoor arena until only one remains.

[edit] Pop culture references

Some scripted and written works have used reality television as a plot device:

[edit] Films

[edit] Television

  • Valerie Cherish.
  • Total Drama Island (2007) is a Canadian animated series that depicts teenagers on a reality series.
  • Rock Rivals (2008) is a British television show about two judges on a televised singing contest whose marriage is falling apart.

[edit] Books

[edit] Other influences on popular culture

A number of scripted television shows have taken the form of documentary-type reality TV shows, in “Come Fly With Me.

Some feature films have been produced that use some of the conventions of reality television; such films are sometimes referred to as reality films, and sometimes simply as documentaries.[84] Allen Funt‘s 1970 hidden camera movie What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? was based on his reality-television show Candid Camera. The TV show Jackass spawned four films: Jackass: The Movie in 2001, Jackass: Number Two in 2006, Jackass 2.5 in late 2007, and Jackass 3D in 2010. A similar show, Extreme Duudsonit, was adapted for the film The Dudesons Movie in 2006. The producers of The Real World created The Real Cancun in 2003. Games People Play: New York was released in 2004.

The mumblecore film genre, which began in the mid-2000s, and uses video cameras and relies heavily on improvisation and non-professional actors, has been described as influenced in part by what one critic called “the spring-break psychodrama of MTV’s The Real World“. Mumblecore director Joe Swanberg has said, “As annoying as reality TV is, it’s been really good for filmmakers because it got mainstream audiences used to watching shaky camerawork and different kinds of situations.”[85]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links



Source: Wikipedia