Reality tv revision


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Reality tv revision

  1. 1. REALITY TV GCSE EXAM 2010 NAME: MEDIA TEACHERS NAME: In order to be confident in the exam you need to make sure that you can apply the Key Concepts to the topic of Reality Television. Once you are confident with applying the Key Concepts and you can apply the knowledge learnt in class then you’re home and dry! In this booklet you will find ways to apply the Key Concepts, information to add to your knowledge base, TASKS and questions to practice to apply that knowledge (some you may have done in class already, but that’s what revision is all about!)
  2. 2. CONTENTS Over view of Key Concepts…………………………………… 1 Media Languages: Forms and Conventions…………….. 2 Definitions of Reality TV……………………………………….. 2 Types of Reality TV Shows……………………………………. 3 Forms and Conventions………………………………………... 4 Representations……………………………………………….. 5 Stereotypes and Reality TV……………………………………. 5 Jade Goody and Susan Boyle…………………………………. 6 Homepage analysis……………………………………………… 9 Audiences……………………………………………………….. 10 Uses and Gratifications…………………………………………. 10 Targeting audiences…………………………………………….. 12 Institutions………………………………………………………. 13 Pitching a Reality TV Show…………………………………… 14
  3. 3. KEY CONCEPTS – WHAT ARE THEY? FORMS AND CONVENTIONS WEBSITES OF REALITY TV SHOWS VOICEOVERS MANUFACTURED FILMIC CODES SITUATIONS CAN YOU? • Analyses & interpret a filmic codes and conventions? • Describe features of various types of Reality TV Shows? • Examine the use of a voiceover? CAN YOU? • Comment on the MORAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES LIFESTYLE representation participants? • Consider how ‘real’ is ‘real’? • Identify how audience VIEWER viewpoint is manipulated? PARTICIPANTS AGE, GENDER & RACE • Examine how Reality TV can be seen as a cause for concern? • Describe the demographic profile of a target audience? USES AND GRATIFICATIONS PLEASURES  CAN YOU? • Apply Uses and Gratifications when IDENTITY exploring how audiences respond to media? APPEAL INTERACTIVITY • Identify the appeal of certain types of shows? • Describe the relevance of audience interactivity? CAN YOU? • Explore the nature and types of • Describe the historical development audience interactivity? Reality TV? • Identify how revenue is brought in? • Consider why Reality TV is so HISTORY popular with producers and television COMMERCIAL PRESSURES networks? REVENUE SPIN OFFS SPONSORSHIP
  4. 4. Media Languages: forms and conventions A difficulty in the study of Reality Television is in arriving at a precise definition of this genre which has changed over time. Originally used to describe programmes that showed how the emergency services worked, the term has now expanded to include a number of different formats. Arguably it is now one of the most popular television genres, inhabiting a borderline territory between information and entertainment. The genre has attracted a lot of criticism and is often used to illustrate arguments about the alleged ‘dumbing down’ of television. However, a starting point in defining Reality Television is that it presents us with real people who are followed in a particular real life situation. Furthermore, that situation is unscripted and unrehearsed, providing the viewing audience with an opportunity to follow events as they happen, which is undoubtedly an important contributory factor to its appeal. As the genre has evolved a variety of formats and techniques have been set up which essentially have been borrowed from existing genres. Some definitions of Reality TV: Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors. (Wikipedia, Reality TV is a catch-all category that includes a wide range of television programmes about real people. Sometimes called popular factual television, reality TV is located in border territories, between information and entertainment, documentary and drama (Annette Hill: Reality TV, 2005) Programming that is unscripted and follows actual ‘real life’ events as they unfold, usually involving members of the public or groups of celebrities. The television genre where situations are created by the show’s producers, but the show itself is unscripted. Cameras capture the participants’ natural reactions and responses to the situations created, which are then edited as a programme or series. (Product Placement Glossary,
  5. 5. Types of Reality TV Shows INFOTAINMENT: The oldest variation: classic shows that combine public information messages to the public on crime, health, etc with real life experts and examples, and reconstructions of events or issues. Usually use on-camera presenter, celeb or specialist for added authority. DOCUSOAP: a hybrid of observational documentary and soap opera. Documentary style ‘fly-on-the-wall’ programming in which cameras are set up and follow unscripted situations as they happen. It is argued that this type of format provides the most realistic programming. LIFESTYLE PROGRAMME: ‘Lifestyle’ self improvement/makeover programmes involving real people in real situations undergoing some sort of trauma in their life with regard to their appearance, their house, their garden, which is then transformed and made better by experts. THE SOCIAL EXPERIMENT SHOW: A ‘people experiment’ where a situation is set up and observed, e.g. Wife Swap – conflicting class values and life-styles within the home – exploring parenting, social relationships, domestic organisation, gender roles, work, etc REALITY TALENT SHOW: Created for TV programmes involving putting real people in manufactured situations and filming what happens. Sometimes this involves an element of competition and uses popularity voting to eliminate contestants either internally by judges or externally by the viewing public. REALITY GAME SHOW: Essentially a popularity contest set in a highly constructed experimental situation under 24-hour surveillance. Includes elements of many other reality genres, including Observation/Surveillance types of programmes which involve putting together a group of strangers in a house or another type of environment and letting the viewing audience watch how they interact as they live together for a period of a couple of months. TASK ONE: Write down 3 names of shows for each Reality format
  6. 6. Forms and Conventions of Reality TV Shows (Key Features): Real people, not actors - opportunities to observe how other people live and behave, and follow their stories; identifiable characters with whom audiences can identify ‘Real’ situations - even when they are set up by the programme-makers Largely unscripted - allowing for the unpredictable Factual entertainment A story, a journey or a contest - narratives – the organisation of events through editing to tell stories – the journey, the quest, the resolution of a problem A presenter, host or voiceover narrator Participants who have volunteered to take part Lots of editing An element of competition - participants interacting with each other for a prize or reward, whether financial, career-related, or around talent or popularity; the narrative of who will win, who will lose; heroes and villains; Potential for conflict - opportunities to take sides in on-screen confrontation, personality clashes, divisions within a group (in reality game shows) Entertainment - e.g. admiring development of skills, or lack of them; enjoyment in other people’s discomfort or success; diversion and escape fro personal reality, etc. Audience Interactivity - opportunities to influence content of a show through voting - participation in a community generated around the show – e.g. forums, Facebook groups, fan sites TASK TWO: Provide examples of at least 3 Reality TV Shows and explain their forms and conventions (say what makes them a reality show referring to their key features) Other aspects of Media Language: - The use of a voiceover – this can occur during the title sequence and can set up the tone of the show e.g. Young, Dumb and Living of Mum. It can also be used during the show to manipulate the audience and representations - Editing – this can also be used to manipulate the audience and representations - Title sequences can help to set up the premise of the show and put across themes
  7. 7. Representations Representations One of the key pleasures of Reality Television is that it supposedly shows us real life events involving real people unscripted and unplanned situations. A key area of study is in the consideration of how real is real? All Reality Show formats are constructed and audience viewpoint manipulated. It is important to examine how this is achieved. A useful exercise would be to contrast different shows and to consider how real they seem and why. The nature of providing this real life viewing experience has given rise to moral and ethical issues that surround it. Exposing participants on Reality Shows as they are humiliated or upset in front of large audiences who seemingly enjoy the spectacle, has led to accusations of bad taste. It is important to explore the nature of voyeurism and the concerns that give rise to this type of viewing experience. By way of contrast, some participants are extremely skilled at “manipulating the situation” as they become more experienced readers of the genre. The selection of types of participants is also a useful avenue to explore and how this leads to certain types of interactions. Furthermore the content of some Reality Shows such as Wife Swap and Ibiza Uncovered has also given cause for concern in that they seem to test the limits of taste and decency, questioning the values they present to a viewing audience. TASK THREE: Many Reality TV programmes exploit people to make money. Give an example of an episode from a programme you have watched which you think should not have been shown. Editing and Representation Although editing technically comes under Media Language, it’s used to construct reality and can change the way people and situations are represented and in turn change the way the audience view them. See videos on blog for more Stereotypes and Reality TV Stereotype: a simplified view of a person or groups of people, in which one or two characteristics are used to represent the whole person, and the whole group s/he belongs to. A classic example: ‘the dumb blonde’ stereotype, based on repeated and usually inaccurate ideas and media imagery which categorises all young blonde women as being silly, vain and uninformed. The contestants in reality TV game shows are often edited to represent selective or stereotypical behaviour. The most obvious example is Jade Goody, who built a career, life and death around versions of – and challenges to – her dumb blonde stereotype.
  8. 8. TASK FOUR: The next two pages explore the ways Jade Goody has been represented onscreen and in the tabloid press – and the ways she chose to represent herself. Write about: - the different types of stereotype the images suggest - the ways these ideas have been constructed through the format and editing of BB and CBB - the role played by the tabloid press in supporting or challenging these stereotypes. TASK FIVE: Explain how Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent or Jade Goody from Big Brother are good examples of the voyeuristic nature of Reality TV. Consider the formats role in: - Representing people - Exploiting and humiliating people - Use of stereotypes Use the blog for help with this task tv-and-representations-goody.html
  9. 9. Other aspects of Representation: - Consider how the shows represent themselves e.g. websites
  10. 10. Audiences For some people Reality Television is very addictive, it has proven to be particular successful with young audiences. You should be familiar with audience effects theories such as the Uses and Gratifications model in exploring how audiences use and respond to the media. It is argued that the variety of Reality TV formats means that there is something for everyone and this provides another productive area of study into audience preferences. It is further argued that a reason why audiences enjoy some Reality TV formats is because of the feeling of empowerment it gives them when they can influence the outcome and sometimes, as has been the case with Big Brother for example, even the activities of the participants on the show. You should consider the nature and types of audience interactivity along with the revenue that this brings. Key Questions Why do audiences watch reality TV? Who watches what? How do they watch? How do producers target them? What producers do to generate audiences for reality TV Broadcasters, commissioners and producers always have particular audiences in mind. They identify and target their audiences in terms of: demographics: age, gender, social class, region, ethnicity psychographics: lifestyles, personality types, values and beliefs, based on specially commissioned profiling, industry case studies market research: what genres/shows are successful, opportunities for more of the same, gaps in the market for particular groups media technologies: creating and exploiting new media platforms to reach and draw in their targeted audiences. Satisfying Our Needs The ‘Four Needs’ (or ‘Uses and Gratifications’) theory by Blumler and Katz suggests that audiences use the media in four different ways. Entertainment and diversion: to find personal pleasure and enjoyment; emotional release from everyday life and its problems. Surveillance and information: to learn about the world, new experiences, other people; to satisfy curiosity; acquire new knowledge. Personal relationships: to enhance and explore relationships with other people, find companionship or substitute friendships on screen. Personal identity: to find support and reinforcement for one’s values and beliefs; to help understand oneself; to help explore one own identity.
  11. 11. TASK SIX: Choose 2 Reality TV shows and answer the following questions Who might watch these shows – and why? What kinds of audiences might watch your chosen shows (age, gender, social class, ethnicity, interest groups, etc)? What needs, interests, uses and gratifications might your chosen show provide for its audience? Targeting the Audience Scheduling finding the right time-slot for the target audience's needs; ‘stripping’ a programme at the same time daily over a week running repeats, extras, special events personalising with online and on-demand downloads Interactivity (the latest buzzword – what every producer wants to achieve) phone-ins, votes, competitions, web-based forums, chat-rooms, social network groups, text-message updates etc. Synergy keeping you interested through cross-media promotions – merchandising, websites, presenters/participants on TV and radio talk-shows, photo- opportunities and PR stories in the press, lifestyle and celeb magazines and so on. TASK SEVEN: Investigate the ways a Reality Show of your choice uses the bullet point strategies above. You could look at the ways the show uses digital interactivity such as: social network groups and their role in recruiting and engaging audiences online forums and chat rooms online voting systems and the differences between BBC and commercial practices Institutions
  12. 12. Reality programming is continuing to dominate broadcasting schedules and it is important to consider why it is so popular with producers and television networks. A successful format will be relatively cheap in proportion to the number of hours of broadcasting it can fill. The rise of digital TV in the 1990s meant that there was an increased need to fill the airwaves so it is not surprising that this was accompanied by the growth in a variety of Reality formats. You need to have an understanding of such financial and commercial pressures and it is useful to contrast the public service and commercial models of broadcasting here. The effect of the 1990 Broadcasting Act opened up competition and the BBC became under pressure to deliver cheaper programming. As a result popular Reality TV programmes became an important feature in the prime time ratings war between the BBC and its commercial rivals. The revenue brought to television companies through premium rate telephone voting is another important area of study. With programmes such as The X Factor, Big Brother and Strictly Come Dancing proving to be very popular with young audiences, concern has been raised of exploitation as children run up big mobile phone bills. Audience participation has also been dogged by recent controversies with accusations of vote rigging. One of the features of Reality TV is its ability to generate coverage across the media, particularly the tabloid press. It is also worth exploring the spin off programmes that are generated, such as the Strictly Come Dancing fanzine, ‘It Takes Two’. TASK EIGHT: Write down the benefits for the broadcasters of each show type (apart from Infotainment) e.g. Docusoaps are relatively cheap to produce Other aspects of Institution: - The role of Ofcom and their Broadcasting codes Pitching your own Reality TV Show
  13. 13. Your job is to provide a pitch for a brand new show called ‘Second Chances’. It needs to: be informative, educational and encourage positive role models provide opportunities for interactive participation by the audience suitable for prime time family viewing (scheduled for 6-8pm) In addition you must: come up with ideas on how to market the show to the target audience present ways to promote the show across various media platforms Use the PowerPoint previously given to you to plan out your show, and then use the following points to formulate your pitch. Writing your pitch: Answer in role ‘Broadcast Reality TV’ wrote a letter to you why don’t you write a letter back Explain which of the 6 types of reality show your show is going to be, provide a definition of the show type, why does this show type appeal to audiences? How does this show type benefit broadcasters? Explain the rules and format of your show (task 3 on PowerPoint) What forms and conventions of Reality TV will your show feature? Provide your answers for task 4 (see PowerPoint) Provide your answers for task 5 (see PowerPoint) Provide your answers for task 6 (see PowerPoint) Design tasks: On an A3 piece of paper design the homepage of the website for the show – explain how you think it will attract the target audience Storyboard a 30-second extract from the opening sequence of your show which introduces its main themes and visual style Storyboard an advert promoting the show