argumentative synthesis reality television

Argumentative Synthesis- Reality Television

            If we set out to define Reality TV, we would go about round and round and stop at a point where our definition would betray us. It would make us feel stupid for watching something equally stupid. Reality TV is like an addiction. Its right in front of you and before you know it; you’re picking at it, putting into your mouth without much thought and regretting it afterwards with a sick, heavy feeling that what you are doing is not appropriate and immature. At the onset, everyone denies his growing fascination with exploitation, reality TV but as seasons of Big Brother, Amazing Race and various Idols turn into double digits, the pleasure of watching something “real” takes away your guilt. With the reality television here to stay, one cannot help but give in to the pangs of the “not so real” charms of it.


The truth of “Reality Television” and why it makes everyone drool for more.

            Sometimes called popular factual television, reality TV resides in the border between fact and entertainment, drama and documentary. There is a reality based show on everything-from healthcare to hair dressing, from people to pets. The show is unanimous in its presence-from Uruguay to USA, from Italy to India. Rupert Murdoch, the man who gave us Fox TV and Cops has devoted a special channel altogether for reality based shows and has named it- Reality TV- a sole channel devoted to the genre.

Robert Thompson’s View

            Reality TV in the twenty-first century, said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, represents “a new way of telling a story which [is] half fiction—the producers and creators set up a universe, they give it rules, they make a setting, they cast it according to specific guidelines as to who they think are going to provide good pyrotechnics. But then they bring in non-actors with no scripts and allow this kind of improvisation like a jazz piece to occur.”

            What is the strategy that the producers follow? How can something so banal and irresponsible hold the audience’s attention for this long? The producers know that they need to fix up a target audience. No reality based show would and can be watched by everyone and anyone. Differences are bound to be there. They identify their target audience and try to channelise the show likewise. Of course, there comes the viewer response as well through voting-be it through sms, internet or telephone. This kind of strategy helps a lot in the adherence of the viewers to the show. It however shows how popular the certain program is.

            Reality TV is undoubtedly the genre of new age entertainment everybody loves to hate and–even more–loves to watch. The criticisms are many–showcasing the worst in human nature, delighting in other people’s failure. Critics say that the term “reality television” is somewhat misleading. Such shows frequently portray a modified and highly influenced form of reality, with participants put in exotic locations or abnormal situations, sometimes coached to act in certain ways by off-screen handlers (and we thought that their actions were prompt), and with events on screen sometimes manipulated through editing and other post-production techniques- a really “real” world out there manipulating whatever we see and calling it “real.”

            To say that reality TV is stupid and unnecessary is to see the genre from one side. No critic can surpass the profits and developments made by this genre of TV. One must not forget that tabloid journalism was one of the crucial reasons which gave rise to Reality TV. Also, all the shows which are aired are not successful. Some lose their names down the hill but some manage to hold the common interest. Thus, criticizing the genre would be fine only if it is not bombarded with nihilism and negativism. One must also take into account the proper and accurate research and study of the genre’s evolution and its progress down the lane.

            Whether reality TV ultimately fades into television history or continues to evolve with the medium as a unique genre, for over fifty years it has offered interesting, often controversial entertainment and with the current trend, chances are that it would continue to do so. Thus, the debate would never end and man would forever continue to amuse himself with debates and doubts over the much-hated yet much watched Reality TV.




Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched- By Mark Andrejevic
Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television- By Annette Hill
Shooting People: Adventures in Reality TV- By Sam Brenton, Reuben Cohen,M1

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