Discuss the Above Quote in Relation to ‘Reality Tv’ Programmes, with a Specific Analysis of Whether or Not You Feel That Programmes in the Genre Can in Fact Portray ‘Reality’. You Must Reference at Least Two Academic Texts.

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‘We might think of viewers playing a game in which the objective is to spot the moment when the ‘performance’ breaks down and the ‘real person is exposed…These flickers of authenticity are the prize for watching. (Roscoe, 2004)

Discuss the above quote in relation to ‘Reality TV’ programmes, with a specific analysis of whether or not you feel that programmes in the genre can in fact portray ‘reality’. You must reference at least two academic texts.

Reality television is the ultimate peak into next-door’s bedroom, the enthralling and exciting real-time screening of all the places that the audience is not. Reality television embarks the audience on a journey, connecting the viewing public with the contestants and visa versa. The entertainment conglomerates found a way to make televised life a business whilst consequently rewarding themselves with a lifetime of profits.

Reality television is a very popular genre that presents real people, monitored and portrayed commercially via the media. Though often deliberately manufactured situations, these fly on the wall documentaries are not only humorous, but at times, exceptionally touching. Produces provide audiences with cheap and easy television; this consequently gains ratings for the companies and still entertains the audience.

Reality television began in the early 1940’s with Allen Funt’s ‘Candid Camera’ broadcasting unsuspecting ordinary people reacting to pranks. It has been called the ‘granddaddy of the reality TV genre’. The premise of the show involved concealed cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, when the victim was revealed to the unusual situations the shows catch phrase ‘Smile, your on candid camera’ was said. Today many other reality shows for example ‘Punk’d, Trigger Happy TV” use a similar intertextual phrase which can be linked back to the show. Even in early television, real people where featured, the audience would have never seen anything like this, because people were presented with the news and dramas etc, however showing the ‘reality’ gave the audience a new type of television, which was exciting to watch.

In 1964 a new hybrid of reality TV shows were broadcasted, ‘Seven Up’ was a reality show which broadcasted interviews with a dozen of ordinary seven year-olds discussing their reactions to everyday life. The programme was structured as a series of interviews with no element of plot, however it did have the effect of turning ordinary people into celebrities. Shows like these became extremely popular as it allowed access into fame, which most people would take the opportunity to do so, as today we are obsessed with celebrity lifestyle. In relation to the quote it is evident that ‘reality’ can be shown, the children in the show would not realise that they were going to be on television, so they would therefore act themselves. The television show was broadcasted every seven years, showing how the young children’s class and views changed. ‘Seven Up’ is a good example that backs up the statement because it can in face portray ‘reality’.

‘Reality shows pander to the oldest and most disreputable traits in human nature- the desire to gawp at other peoples misfortunes’ (Noughton)

Producers realised that reality television shows were cheap and easy to make. With reality television becoming extremely popular, producers new exactly what to make. Crime and rescue based shows were the first that caught people’s attention, with shows for example ‘Emergency 999’ and ‘Police camera action’ that regularly attracted audience over the 10-million mark. (Hill, 1999)

Today it can be argued that reality TV shows do not present real people and real situations however, ‘Crimewatch UK’ is an informative reality television show, with the purpose to help the British police force and to present real life situations. The show began in June 1984 reconstructing major unsolved crimes with a view to gaining information from the...
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