This essay will assess the debate on whether or not reality television is becoming more like a form of tabloidization; whether, reality TV has shifted from to entertaining the audience rather than educating the audience. John Corner believes that television has greatly expanded its range of images, depicting more of the ‘real’. He added that the shift in reality TV has employed factual programming, such as an increase in documentaries. On the other hand, Richard Kilborn believes that reality TV is a simulation of real life events through various forms of dramatic reconstruction… ’Documentaries can never be any more than a representation or an interpretation of events and issues in the real world’ (Kilborn, 5). Therefore, programs can be promoted through reality credentials. Hill also argues that reality TV has been constantly being criticised for being cheap and sensational television. Programs such as Big Brother and Survivor, who explore the notion of observational and experimental documentary game shows whilst also trying to be educational, can be defined as example of reality TV. The viewer will either love it or hate it although will still be a popular topic for public debate. The essay will also explore the shift in reality TV and reason to why reality TV is becoming more like tabloids.
Reality TV is a type of television genre that documents actual events and usually feature ordinary people instead of celebrities. Reality TV is difficult to categorise in some sense as because of its hybridity. It has also been developed within historically and culturally specific media environments. In addition, reality TV shows have influences of other television genres such as sports television, children’s and soap television, etcetera. Use of webcam helps depict the realness of the situation as the audience get a real insight to how the person/ contestant is feeling. There is use of unedited footage, such as live shows. This is all to enhance the realness hence the word, ‘reality TV’. ‘Such programmes use a wide range of television techniques to enhance the entertainment values of the material’ (Kilborn, 85). For instances, in reality show, Big Brother, the contestants get to go into the dairy room to share their private thoughts with the audience. This technique is a way of allowing the audience to choose which contestant they like.
The increase of reality TV means that has become an important part of society, as it is part of the popular culture that has taken over Britain in the last few decades. In the book Reality TV: audiences and popular factual television, it states ‘the popularity of reality TV has led to a dangerous blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction’ (Hill, 7), this means arguably it might have actually had a negative effect on modern society as it has become a part of peoples’ lives, as reality TV is fast, cheap and addictive and has caused us to become… ‘Dumber, fatter and more disengaged from ourselves and society’ (Hill, 7). Reality TV is associated with audience participation. Crime Watch UK is a great example of audience participation, which uses reconstructions to persuade viewer that what there are watching is the way in which things may have happened. Like Big Brother on the other hand, the audience interact by voting someone out of the house. Most reality TV will put a great emphasis on personal and domestic relationships. For instances, if there is a problem between any of the housemate, that episode will focus especially on that problem using camera techniques to enhance the action. As a result this then generates more viewers. In other words, the audience wants to be entertained. This leads to the question of whether reality TV is shifting from the informative aspects to entertainment in order to gain more viewers. In order make these viewers tune in every week, the presenter must create some sort of anticipation of each incident through each series.
Tabloidization can be...
Bibliography: Annette Hill, Reality TV: audience and popular factual television, Routledge: New York, 2005
Richard KIlborn and John Izod, An introduction to television documentary: confronting reality, Manchester University Press: Manchester, 1997
Ruth Lorand, Television: Aesthetic Reflections, Peter Lang Publishing: New York, 2002
Big Brother, Channel 4, 1997
Super-nanny, Channel 4, 2004
Crime Watch UK, BBC, 1984
The Jerry Springer Show, NBC, 1991
DIY SOS, BBC, 1999
60-Minute Makeover, ITV, 2007
Ricki Lake, 1993
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