Explain the Increase in Popularity of the Genre of Reality Television

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The concept of reality television is defined as genre of programming in which the fortunes of everyday individuals, as opposed to actors, or fictional characters are followed (Soong, 2003). Although these programs have always been prevalent within society, it is only within these last two years that reality television has achieved its greatest success with shows such as Survivor, Big Brother, Master Chef, and Fear Factor. Today, reality television encompasses a variety of specialised formats or subgenres, including most prominently the gamedoc, the makeover program, and the dating program. Mass media, which incorporates reality television, is classified into two different categories, passive or active. This notion is formed from a variety of sociological theories including that of Marx and the Frankfurt School along with other various researchers in the field of literary criticism (Matthewman. et al. 2007). In contemporary society, there are several reasons for the sudden increase in popularity of reality television including money, instant fame and the guilty pleasure phenomenon. As individuals within society, we are inclined to precede reality TV stars and unknowingly make them our role models. It is evident that reality shows are seen as significant cultural objects whose production and consumption demonstrate and publicize society’s norms and ideologies of contemporary culture. The prospect in modern society of reality television is to provide gripping “real life” entertainment as well as public service in the form of an elaborate ruse point to some of the overlapping institutional, ethical and cultural developments. (Murray p.g.3) Approaches to media effects the view the audience as a passive mass of spectators are referred to as “hypodermic needle” or “silver bullet” models (Matthewman. et al. 2007). Predominantly, Frankfurt School, critical theory writers integrated the concept of mass culture; referring to specific media that is designed to be consumed by...
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