The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History

The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History

The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History

The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History

Synopsis

Featuring ordinary people, celebrities, game shows, hidden cameras, everyday situations, and humorous or dramatic situations, reality TV is one of the fastest growing and important popular culture trends of the past decade, with roots reaching back to the days of radio. The Tube Has Spoken provides an analysis of the growing phenomenon of reality TV, its evolution as a genre, and how it has been shaped by cultural history. This collection of essays looks at a wide spectrum of shows airing from the 1950s to the present, addressing some of the most popular programs including Alan Funt's Candid Camera, Big Brother, Wife Swap, Kid Nation, and The Biggest Loser. It offers both a multidisciplinary approach and a cross-cultural perspective, considering Australian, Canadian, British, and American programs. In addition, the book explores how popular culture shapes modern western values; for example, both An American Family and its British counterpart, The Family, showcase the decline of the nuclear family in response to materialistic pressures and the modern ethos of individualism. This collection highlights how reality TV has altered the tastes and values of audiences in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It analyzes how reality TV programs reflect the tensions between the individual and the community, the transformative power of technology, the creation of the celebrity, and the breakdown of public and private spheres.

Excerpt

Reality TV continues to grow in popularity as television programming that offers “real,” albeit edited and scripted, experiences before the handheld camera and proliferates to include children (Kid Nation) and animals (Pet Psychic). With roots in documentary film, originally used for education or persuasion, and television news, including heart-wrenching humaninterest stories, reality TV has both expanded and blurred definitions of broadcast content and, some would argue, standards of acceptable conduct. Although television is an influential visual medium, much of the attraction of reality TV relies on backstory. The narratives often attract sympathy or create empathy. Room makeovers on shows like Deserving Design, Trading Spaces, and Designed to Sell include stories of personal self-sacrifice, feuding siblings, and expectant couples. A Baby Story takes the viewer into the delivery room. These narratives connect with shared realities, as if they were Life and Look magazine photos put into motion to tell the touching tales in every detail.

Other shows rely less on heartwarming narratives and more on voyeurism and vicarious experiences. Although Survivor and The Amazing Race take armchair travelers around the globe, backstories and backstabbing provide the entertainment. Julie Chen, the steamy host of Big Brother, “welcomes another gaggle of exhibitionistic houseguests to the… compound, where their sleazy psychodramas are sure to remedy any self-esteem issues you may be having” after watching the tenth season.1 Sleaze and sex sell, human conflict entertains, and the possibility of winning a million dollars is always attractive, especially if more than fifteen minutes of fame comes with the cash. Consumers can share their own realities on QVC or HSN,

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.