Academic journal article Film & History

The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV and History

Academic journal article Film & History

The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV and History

Article excerpt

Julie Anne Taddeo and Ken Dvorak, Editors The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV and History The University of Kentucky Press; 2010 275 pages; $40.00

Many television viewers think that the 'reality TV genre' was born on June 6th, 2000 - the day the long-running and popular television series Survivor was first broadcast. Surprisingly, perhaps, the newly released anthology The Tube Has Spoken: Rea/ity TV and History demonstrates that reality TV is nearly as old as the medium itself. The Tube Has Spoken takes its readers back to the year 1948, when Allen Funt's Candid Camera seized the attention of millions of television viewers with its unrehearsed surveillance-based humor. As author Fred Nadis notes in "Citizen Funt: Surveillance as Cold War Entertainment," the 1950s were a period in American history when "loyalty oaths, fears of unAmerican activities, Communist infiltration, organized crime, and public panics over comic books" had become the primary obsessions of legions of Americans (13). Through the employment of surveillance-themed humor, Funt successfully played on the viewing public's concerns about personal privacy against a postwar ambiance of rampant paranoia.

A curious amalgam of cinema vérité, broadcast news, and documentary styles, reality TV has also been successfully used as a tool with which to explore social issues. Cassandra L. Jones' "The Patriotic American is a Thin American" examines the phenomenally popular television series The Biggest Loser. Unlike Survivor, which "pit[s] the contestants against each other and place[s] the focus on a large cash reward, often by asking them to put themselves in dangerous situations... The Biggest Loser places the focus on transformation, both psychological and physical, as well as [on] teamwork" (68). Jones' essay addresses the 'frontier myth' and its role in American culture, specifically as it applies to contestants on The Biggest Loser, who must leave behind their homes, friends, and family in order to journey to the California ranch-style training facility and participate in the program. Of the influence of the frontier myth on both American culture and the scripting of The Biggest Loser, Jones writes that "this notion of escape to the West is clearly in the foreground. …

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.