Mac201 are you for real

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  • Gareth Gates (2nd place in Pop Idol), SteveBrookestein (X Factor winner, 2004), Shayne Ward (X Factor winner, 2005), Leon Jackson (X Factor winner, 2007)
  • David Bourne tried to stop gang attacking the woman but was battered and ended u with two black eyeshttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2196342/Have-hero-battered-thugs-rescuing-woman-attacked-street.html#ixzz2M5h2IxqP 'Lotto lout' Michael Carroll back on the dole after squandering his £9.7m (2002) on drugs and prostitutes http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1249209/Lotto-lout-Michael-Carroll-dole-squandering-millions.html#ixzz2M5g2QxLn
  • Victor Ebuwaand Emma Greenwood
  • Mac201 are you for real

    1. 1. Billy Proctor billyproctor@hotmail.co.uk Rob Jewitt robert.jewitt@sunderland.ac.ukAre you for real?The politics of reality TV and infotainment#mac201 1
    2. 2. Overview The broad claims Reality and realism The background Contemporary examples 2
    3. 3. Reality TV = Revolutionary? „In a mere matter of years, this newfangled genre has infiltrated virtually every corner of the television world and very quickly become a staple of every television programmer‟s arsenal of program choices‟  (Huff, 2006: ix). 3
    4. 4. 4
    5. 5. Reality TV = Trash TV? „a development which panders to lowest common denominator tastes ... In the eyes of some, much of what has occurred in the domain of factual television is indicative of a more general cultural malaise‟  (Kilborn, 2003: 1) 5
    6. 6. Reality TV = Trash TV? Audience research among consumers/fans of Reality TV describe it as „crap‟, „an absolute load of bollocks‟, and the „worst kind of car-crash television‟  (Hill, 2008: 105-6) 6
    7. 7. What is this?
    8. 8. René MagritteThe Treachery of Images
    9. 9. Questioning reality „Television by definition is a medium that invites questions about how real its version of reality is‟.  (Misha Kavka in King, 2005: 93) Realist texts „never give us a slice of life nor do they reflect reality‟  (Morris, 2003: 4) This is always a representation [„re‟ + „presentation‟]. Nobody has unmediated access to reality. All reality is subjective. 9
    10. 10. Reality and documentary „the term documentary is always much safer when used as an adjective rather than a noun‟ „To ask “is this a documentary project” is more useful than to ask “is this film a documentary?”‟  John Corner, 2002: 258 10
    11. 11. Access to „the real‟? Factual programming = serious? A window on the world? Educational? Social realism: „record and reveal society to its members for the information and advantage of them all‟  (Grierson cited in Kilborn and Izod, 1997: 46) 11
    12. 12. Representing reality „Documentaries are fictions with plots, characters, situations, and events like any other. … [They] build heightened tensions and dramatically rising conflicts, and they terminate with resolution and closure. They do all of this with reference to a “reality” that is a construct, the product of signifying systems, like the documentary film itself … [This] reality, too must be scrutinized and debated as part of the domain of signification and ideology. The notion of any privileged access to a reality that exists “out there”, beyond us, is an ideological effect. The sooner we realize all this, the better‟.  (Nichols, 1991:107) 12
    13. 13. From last week… Observational documentary Cinema vérité „fly on the wall‟ Paul Watson‟s The Family (1974/2008) Roger Graef‟s Police (1982) 13
    14. 14. The Rise of Reality TV 14
    15. 15. The Rise of Reality TV „As we embark upon a new century of broadcasting, it is clear that no genre form or type of programming has been as actively marketed by producers, or more enthusiastically embraced by viewers, than reality-based TV‟  (Friedman, 2002: 6) 15
    16. 16. The Rise of Reality TV „The change in factual programming over the past 15 years has been disastrous…Serious current affairs programmes have either disappeared altogether or been disastrously reduced, pushed to the margins of the schedules, or on to networks which are virtually unwatched.‟  (Dunkley, 2000: 20 cited in Kilborn, 2003: 7) 16
    17. 17. The Rise of Reality TV „Reality television is not the end of civilization as we know it; it is civilization as we know it. It is popular culture at its most popular, soap opera come to life‟  (Greer, 2001: 1 cited in Biressi & Nunn, 2 :146). 17
    18. 18. Background: early British examples  Crimewatch UK (BBC 1984-)  999 (BBC 1990)  Blues and Twos (ITV 1993)  Police Camera Action (ITV 1994)  Caught on Camera (ITV 1994) 18
    19. 19. Reality TV sub-genres  Docu-soaps [Driving School; Airport; The Osbournes; Made In Chelsea]  Comedy Verité [The Office; Brass Eye]  Game Doc [Big Brother; I’m a Celebrity; X Factor]  Lifestyle [I Used to be Fat; Supersize Vs Superskinny; What not to Wear] 19
    20. 20. Problematic umbrellas? „The formats usually included under this label have a quite varied relation to “the real”: some are highly narrativized and mediated, some are actually just updated game shows for whom the “reality” descriptor is more an indicator of format style than any claim to be capturing real life, and still others are essentially documentary in their format and in their ethical relation to the material they put before viewers‟  (Turner, 2010: 33) 20
    21. 21. Contemporary developments „ordinary people have gained unprecedented access to representation in the media. Many would argue, however, that this has not necessarily benefited those ordinary people. Indeed, as these formats developed, television producers stumbled upon a new industrial strategy for turning ordinary people into marketable celebrity- commodities‟  (Turner, 2010: 33) 21
    22. 22. Celetoids „Celetoids are the accessories of cultures organized around mass communications and staged authenticity. Examples include lottery winners, one-hit wonders, stalkers, whistle-blowers, sports‟ arena streakers, have-a-go- heroes, mistresses of public figures and the various other social types who command media attention one day, and are forgotten the next‟  (Rojek, 2001: 20-21) 22
    23. 23. Celetoids 23
    24. 24. Celetoids 24
    25. 25. Ordinary people and fame „What is new is the discourse of self- disclosure and authenticity enabled by new television formats such as docu- soaps, reality TV and lifestyle programming that allow ordinary people a narrative of self-improvement and empowerment via personal self-disclosure and a revelation of one‟s true authentic self‟  (Biressi & Nunn, 2008: 138) 25
    26. 26. Ordinary people and fame Chantelle Houghton Celebrity Big Brother (2006) The only non-celebrity amongst the housemates Chantelle: Living the Dream (2006, E4) Chantelle’s Dream Dates (2006, E4) Ultimate Big Brother (2010, C4) 26
    27. 27. Simulation and performance Big Brother Documented housemates under duress Moved away from social experiment to focus on performance of identities Contestants selected on the basis of their particular personalities to create drama, conflict and entertainment. 27
    28. 28. Working through social issues Big Brother No longer recording social reality Simulating social reality „The simulation model at the core of the reality TV game is producing “real world” outcomes in the shared public communicative space of the mediated public sphere‟  (Dovey in Austin & De Jong, 2008: 251) 28
    29. 29. Ethical quandaries „while the primary goal of the reality game show is profit through entertainment and participation, these programmes also actively produce the conflicts and problems of reflexive modernity as a by- product of their discursive effects‟  (Dovey in Austin & De Jong, 2008: 256) 29
    30. 30. Wife Swap „Is it possible that a reality TV series, a programme plucked from that most condemned and vilified of recent televisual forms and so enticingly trailed by a tabloid newspaper could lay claim to making a socially significant and potentially radical intervention in its participants‟ and viewers‟ lives?‟  (Holmes and Jermyn in Austin & De Jong, 2008: 234) 30
    31. 31. Some sources Holmes, Su & Jermyn, Deborah (2008) ‘Ask the Fastidious Woman from Surbiton to Hand-wash the underpants of the Aging Oldham Skinhead...’ Why Not Wife Swap?’, in Austin, Thomas & De Jong, Wilma (eds.) Rethinking Documentary: New Perspectives, New Practices. OUP: Berkshire Turner, Graeme (2010) Ordinary People and the Media: the Demotic Media. London: SAGE. Kilborn, Richard (2003) Staging the Real: Factual TV Programming in the age of Big Brother. Manchester University Press: Manchester. Huff, Richard M. (2006) Reality Television. Praeger: London King, Geoff (2005) (ed.) The Spectacle of the Real: From Hollywood to Reality TV and Beyond. Bristol: Intellect. Dovey, Jon (2008) ‘Simulating the Public Sphere’, in Austin, Thomas & De Jong, Wilma (eds.) Rethinking Documentary: New Perspectives, New Practices. OUP: Berkshire 31

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