Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Parallels

When reading Spigel's piece I was struck by the parallels between the impossition of the public sphere on the private sphere with the introduction of televison to the recent programming trend of reality TV. Here we have a great example of how both the public sphere continues to be brought into the safe realms of the private sphere (Survivor for instance) and how the private sphere is brought into the public sphere, (Big Brother, The Real World, Newly Weds).

I have three questions stemming from this line of thought.

1) Does this trend in television content, partnered with Spigel's argument that people spend more time with TV postwar, continue to make "cocooning" a more prevalent trend. "Why go out when I can watch other people engage in activities I'd like to, or not like to, do?"

2) What neighborhood ideal do shows like Big Brother and The Real World convey considering that the participants in these shows have extremely limited (Real World) or no contact (Big Brother) with their neighbors?

and

3) What group norm do these shows convey and how does that norm influence our desire or need to conform? And if so, how do we conform?

1 comment:

Linda said...

good questions! I've been studying reality tv a bit and there seem to be two types of shows - the first are the shows that recreate capitalist American corporation mentality - at first blush the participants are expected to exhibit "teamwork" and "team spirit," but in reality they are all out to get each other to move on up to the top, just like in corporate America.(Big Brother/The Apprentice/Survivor, etc.) The second version is the newer "celebrity porn" genre, to borrow Chris' term, where we watch washed-up celebrities get their hair highlighted, go on sad tours, etc. This feeds into our celebrity culture nicely and seems to revive sagging celebrity careers.
(The Newlyweds/Farrah/Ozzie) Are the competition-based programs a fascinating roadmap to "success" and the celebrity programs a look into what happens once you get there? Have we lost our collective minds?