REALITYTVFINALPAPER - 1 Deana Croog Honors 291G Karen...

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1 Deana Croog Honors 291G Karen Cardozo Reality Television and Appeal, Necessity, and Relaxation: A College Student’s Guide Though reality television has been in existence since the 50’s game show “Beat the Clock”, it is only in the past ten years that it has become a trademark of contemporary American culture, particularly youth culture. This financially cheap and inherently dramatic form of television is increasingly attractive, particularly to college students, who comprise the majority of the reality television viewer population (Lundy, 213). The 17-24 year old demographic most enjoys, relates, and thus views reality television for numerous reasons: reality programs are a premium source of escape and relaxation, are crucial in maintaining and creating social bonds, and most importantly, are appealing because 17- 24 year olds may identify, critique, and engage in the programs because the characters are, in a sense, ordinary people who act in non-scripted, organic ways, just like them. However, college students (the future of our country) are so enraptured in reality programs, that this makes a strong statement about our generation. Viewers absorb and imitate the actions and trends on reality programs, blurring the line between reality television and what is actually real. Our generation may be quickly on it’s way to becoming a startling and deceiving world of makeover shows that breed temporary how- to’s and fix-its, tawdry docu-soaps that breed dangerous behavior, and unrealistic dating shows that breed false conceptions of love. They say art imitates life, and though reality television certainly is not art, it is indefinitely becoming life.
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2 It is necessary to review the evolution, characteristics, and sub-genres of reality television shows to properly understand the mechanics behind the appeal of reality programs. Reality programs feature characters that are not actors, but are ordinary people (though there is often a host or narrator of some kind), they typically have a multi- narrative focus, and present footage with observational fly-on-the-wall camera technique, giving the illusion that the viewer is in the program with the program’s characters (Escoffery, 66). Also, depending on what type of reality show, there may be situational competitions and prizes (Escoffery, 66). Though initially, reality programs were comprised of game shows and hidden camera shows such as “Beat the Clock” and “Candid Camera”, the modernization of technology gave rise to little microphones, handheld cameras, and other such technology that expanded reality programs (Murray and Ouellette, 951). Numerous sub-genres now exist, such as the game show/talent competition, the dating show, the makeover show, the docu-soap (thanks to the popular program “The Real World”) and the new yet addictive celebrity docu-soap, all of which encompass the hundreds of reality programs aired today (Murray and Ouellette, 952). Producers have perfected the art of creating settings and competitions that provoke stars,
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This note was uploaded on 10/13/2011 for the course HONORS 191D taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '10 term at UMass (Amherst).

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REALITYTVFINALPAPER - 1 Deana Croog Honors 291G Karen...

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