Societys Fascination with Reality TV

Society’s Fascination with Reality TV The term reality associated with a TV program itself suggests that the events transpiring on the television screen may be true and based upon actual life events. This may be one of the prime reasons society is fascinated by such programs because they appear to offer glimpses of reality and truth. Events in such programs purportedly play out exactly as they actually happen, without any kind of editing or revising to make it palatable for public consumption, which is a powerful lure for viewers. As opposed to this, standard TV programs are based upon fictional accounts and viewers are well aware of this. Watching a standard TV program is like escaping into a world of fiction and fantasy, where the shocks and jolts that are associated with real life may sometimes be absent. But reality TV offers the lure of so called truth. It portrays life as it happens, with all its disappointments, hope, anxieties and unexpected events, as well as its mundane, daily grind. The fascination of reality TV for the viewer is in gaining insight into the fears, dreams and expectations of real people. Reality TV programs focus on ordinary, working and middle class citizens, so it becomes easier for viewers to identify with the characters. To some extent, the fascination for reality TV may also lie in the fact that participants reveal some of the most intimate aspects of their lives. For example the Celebrity Big Brother TV show in the UK where celebrities are asked to live together without contact with the outside world and satisfy certain conditions (www.tv.com). Such programs offer viewers the opportunity for a voyeuristic look into other peoples’ lives, while for the ones participating in the programs, the focus is a narcissistic one. With the onset of more and sensational kinds of programs on TV, reality TV which attempts to compete with it, offers an equal amount of shock value but drawn from reality, which packs a bigger thrill for viewers as compared to standard TV programs, where viewers are aware that the events are fictional or doctored up in some way. For example, TV shows like The Bold and the Beautiful and Dynasty are enjoyed by viewers, but they are aware of the fictional content of these programs. Reality TV however, does not represent fluff in any sense of the word. In some instances, it may offer valuable insight into the fears, perceptions and feelings of actual people and viewers are irresistibly drawn by the lure of participating, even temporarily, in other peoples’ lives. Another reason for society’s fascination with reality TV is that it allows a forum for the expression of what may sometimes be unacceptable political or cultural norms. Some of the most popular shows for example, are those which deal with real life filming of police events or dangerous stunts. In the TV show, COPS, police officers are filmed on duty as they apprehend criminals, and their uncensored comments may be racial or littered with bad language, since they react on impulse in a stressful situation. While caught in a crisis like situation, characters may often reveal their inner views in an uncensored form, without the necessary filtering that occurs in the case of standard TV programs. While news programs for example, also report on reality, it is generally the more sensational kinds of reality shows which are popular among audiences. so in all probability, it’s the shock value and uncensored expression of opinion and belief which attracts the audiences. These shows which fall into the class of reality offer a glimpse of life at its most shocking, intimate, bizarre moments which is an endless source of fascination for ordinary people living dull, humdrum lives. The root cause of the fascination for reality TV shows appears to be the underlying desire of viewers to peek into the private lives of other people. Caught up in the mundane reality of their own lives, viewers are looking for sensationalist elements in the TV programs they watch. Reality TV offers the element of the unpredictable, since the shows are not pre-programmed beforehand but taped as the events occur. When such programs can also add the shock value of being drawn from real life, they offer an endless source of fascination for TV viewers. Reference:* Celebrity Big Brother. Retrieved November 8, 2007 from: http://www.tv.com/celebrity-big-brother/show/11094/summary.html* COPS Retrieved November 7, 2007 from: http://www.tv.com/cops-1989/show/28229/summary.html* Kang, Kyoung-Lae, 2006. Reality TV: Remaking television culture Journal of Popular Film and Television, 34(2): 94-96 Critique This report deals with reality TV, asking the question, how is society’s fascination with reality TV to be explained? It offers an explanation of what constitutes reality TV and how it differs from standard TV programs. The major reasons that are offered for the fascination experienced by viewers is the lure of so called truth and the opportunity that viewers have to peek into the private lives of other human beings. An example offered in this context is the Celebrity Big Brother TV show, which allows viewers to vicariously experience the life of celebrities locked into a house for several days, devoid of contact with the outside world. This article also points out how some reality TV shows directly tape officers in action when they are dealing with stressful incidents, for example police officers when they are dealing with criminals. An example offered for this kind of program is COPS, which films police officers on their beat as they deal with dangerous or risky situations. This article suggests that the uncensored nature of reality TV shows may also play a role in the attraction experienced by viewers towards such shows. One of the merits of this report is that it successfully explains the reasons for the underlying fascination that society experiences towards reality TV. It is able to successfully address the question of why there is so much of interest in reality TV shows. The article is able to point out the distinction between reality TV shows and standard TV programs in that the outcomes of standard TV programs are predetermined, while reality TV shows film events as they occur without attempting to refine or censor them in any fashion. There are also some limitations in the article. It ha snot addressed one of the most popular reality TV segments – game shows. TV shows such as Who dares wins where ordinary individuals are approached and dared to do something funny, outrageous or dangerous in order to win a prize. This is the most popular category of shows on reality TV, which has the highest percentage of viewers among international audiences. Such game shows generally introduce ordinary individuals involved in dangerous, death defying activities. The audiences are able to participate in the thrill of the activities pursued by the participants without being exposed to any of the real risks and dangers that are also connected with the acts. In this way, reality TV is able to combine sensationalist and adrenalin boosting viewing activity with the aura of real that sets it aside from fiction which is tailored and modified by the creators. Reality TV appears to represent unfettered TV, whose outcome is indeterminate and viewers may enjoy the feelings of uncertainty and thrill associated with such viewing. Another limitation in this essay is the lack of detailed explanations of the concepts presented through examples. While a few examples are included in the essay, a more specific explanation of how exactly they demonstrate the underlying concepts presented in the article, would have helped to boost the quality of material presented.