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Lit Review

By brandom954 Apr 09, 2013 2237 Words
Brandon Lau
ENC 1102
After exploring genres common to the field of television through a preliminary genre analysis, I continued analyzing the language and genres of my field by focusing in on reality television programs. I gathered articles relating to content of reality TV shows and motivations behind watching reality television programs. I found academic articles relating to reality TV and traced the patterns common in these articles. Through my research, I have found sources based on the effects of reality TV shows on society (Papacharissi and Mendelson; Patino, Kaltcheva, and Smith; Frank; Ferris, Sandi Smith, Greenberg, and Stacy Smith; Barton; Vandenbosch and Eggermont; Kocela) and other sources based on the actual content of reality TV shows (Cooke-Jackson and Hansen; Ouellette; Wilson, Robinson, and Callister). These sources have helped me attain a view of all aspects of reality television programming in relation to television production. In addition, these articles have helped me continue exploring the genre conventions that I will need to learn as I enter a new community through my major. Effects of watching reality television’s content on viewers Viewers tend to mimic in real life what they see on reality television shows. Some sources suggest that these mimicking behaviors may be harmful. (Ferris; Vandenbosch; Wilson) More specifically, in their February 2012 article, “Surviving Survivor: A Content Analysis of Antisocial Behavior and Its Context in a Popular Reality Television Show,” Christopher Wilson, Tom Robinson and Mark Callister present the possible effects of antisocial behavior in reality television shows on longtime viewers. They support their presentation by performing a study in which they identify antisocial behavior and ask viewers how they respond to it. Their purpose was to investigate the antisocial behaviors in reality TV shows in order to see how those behaviors have an effect on viewers. The results of their study indicate that, “the majority of antisocial acts were indirect aggression. (74%) However, the long-term exposure to this high dosage of indirect aggression could be harmful to young viewers.” (Wilson 276) Their audience was reality TV show viewers, and they target their audience by discussing the possible effects of continually watching reality television shows which contain anti-social behaviors. While Wilson, Robinson, and Callister (2012) were discussing antisocial behavior in reality television, Ferris (2007) discussed the romantic aspect of reality television, and its effect on viewers. In “The Content of Reality Dating Shows and Viewer Perceptions of Dating” they claim that there is a strong connection between the content of these reality dating shows and the actual dating attitudes. In order to support their claim, they performed a study, and from their results, they focused in an a few aspects of romantic reality television that affect the viewers’ love life. A few effects of reality dating shows that they discuss are the thoughts that “women are sex objects”, “dating is a game”, and men are sex driven. I agree with the first two thoughts, but the third, that men are sex driven, I do not agree with. In reality television shows, women are seen as “sex objects” and dating is portrayed as a game, but saying that men are sex driven is just wrong. I believe that reality television portrays both men and women as sex driven. The authors also took note of dating behaviors seen in the reality television shows, some of which include kissing, hugging, asking questions to get to know the date; drinking alcohol; going to a party, club, or bar; compliment the date; holding hands; and getting in a hot tub or spa. The authors reported that, “It is possible that the modeling of these behaviors is occurring as a result of watching reality dating shows.” (Ferris 506) I completely agree with that claim because many people, or viewers, look up to the people in reality television shows. If a viewer sees a guy and girl having fun on a date and they are very romantic, the viewer will take note of what happened, and possibly attempt to recreate it in real life. Their purpose was to perform a study in order to show the extent to which the content on these shows was related to actual dating attitudes, preferred date characteristics, and dating behaviors of viewers of that genre. Her intended audience is young adults, and they target their audience by focusing the study around 197 young adults. Vandenbosch and Eggermont’s 2011 article, “Temptation Island, The Bachelor, Joe Millionaire: A Prospective Cohort Study on the Role of Romantically Themed Reality Television in Adolescents' Sexual Development,” is relevant to Ferris’s article because it discusses the effects of watching romantically themed reality television (RTRT) shows. The motives for and effects of watching RTRT shows are discovered through a 3-year panel study among 498 adolescents. I think it is very good that they conducted the survey over a long period of time and with a large study group because it gives a large variety in time and participants. It could be better if they have a larger variety in age, but they may be only looking into young adults, so their study group is good. After conducting the survey, Vandenbosch reports that, “Given an average viewing frequency of two times per week, this study showed that soon after they were introduced, romantically themed reality shows became a popular genre with adolescents, particularly with adolescent girls.” (Vandenbosch 576) I agree completely because teens feel a sense on connectedness to these shows. Romantic feelings and relationships start forming during the teenage years, so the adolescents can relate to the shows. The romantically themed reality shows’ producers make sure to have hot, young guys or girls on the show, which is another aspect that draws in the teens. Fortunately, or unfortunately, from the sources I read, I have realized that reality television has a large effect of viewers, whether good or bad. What viewers see on the shows, they perceive as real, or “reality,” and they mimic the behavior. This just shows how big of an effect reality television programs have on our lives, and how powerful these shows are. Citizenship in reality television

There has been an increase in positive, pro-citizenship messages and actions in reality television shows. (Ouellette) More specifically, in her August 2010 article, “Reality TV Gives Back: On the Civic Functions of Reality Entertainment,” Laurie Ouellette claims that civic aims historically associated with documentaries have been radically reinterpreted and integrated into current popular reality formats. She supports her claim by including examples such as The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, etc. Her purpose was to present evidence in reality television shows in order to show that functions ascribed to the documentary and public service tradition in general have been radically reinterpreted and integrated into popular reality formats. Her intended audience is reality television viewers, and she targets her audience by using popular reality TV shows as examples through out her article. Ouellette discusses very well how civic aims, or citizenship training, is being reinterpreted and integrated into current reality shows. For example, on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, viewers are “activated to practice compassionate citizenship by volunteering for non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Home Aid.” (Ouellette 69) I completely agree with Ouellette because personally, when I watch shows like Secret Millionaire or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling of humanity and kindness. It also makes we want to go out and help others. I think it is great that reality television producer are including real issues in their shows, for example homelessness, disabilities, and obesity, and showing solutions and success stories. Growing up, I was a little overweight, but I would watch The Biggest Loser, and I would see all the overweight people and how they pushed themselves to workout and eat healthy. Seeing the people made me want to get healthy and seeing them lose weight motivated me to lose weight. I think the producers for The Biggest Loser do a very good job at motivating society, and they make the world a better place. Reason or motives for watching reality television

For most people, the main reason to watch reality television shows is for entertainment, but it goes deeper than that. More specifically, in “Reality Television Programming and Diverging Gratifications: The Influence of Content on Gratifications Obtained”, Kristin M. Barton explores how competition-based reality shows with different thematic content influence gratifications obtained by viewers. She supports this exploration by completing a study in which her group is 689 students from a large Southeastern university, and she completes her study by having the students watch at least one of three realty shows; The Apprentice, The Bachelor, and Survivor, each of which Barton specifically selected due to their content. Once they watched the show, they were asked to answer 23 specific questions about why they watched the show on general, then a section asking about their television viewing habits and some demographic questions. I think Barton’s study was very good, but I think she should’ve used students from all parts, not just the Southeast. The results that Barton got from her study confirmed her thoughts that viewers choose what to what based on the satisfaction or gratification they will receive if they watch it. I agree with Barton when she states, “Future research should attempt to recruit participants who watch all three types of reality shows, and compare the gratifications obtained among those.” (Barton 474) By all three, she is referring to The Apprentice, The Bachelor, and Survivor. I agree with Barton because it will give a better understanding of the satisfaction and gratification students obtain from the different reality television shows. Her purpose was to complete the study in order to find out the reasons for watching reality TV. Her intended audience is reality TV producers, and she targets her audience by including the results from her study.

Frank’s commentary in Broadcasting & Cable is relevant to Barton’s paper because she argues that television networks need to listen to the teens’ voice of change in the television business. She states that although reality TV shows may be scripted and not be the ideal thing to watch, but she agrees that reality TV shows are taking over, and networks need to take advantage of that. I totally agree. I find myself watching reality TV shows a lot more than the news, sitcoms, or even sports. While watching the reality TV shows, I realize that most of it is scripted, but it still entertains me and I think they are well produced. Frank also hints that there is a deeper reason why teens watch reality TV shows than, “It is entertaining.” She says, “The deeper reasons they watch are that these programs are current, urgent and of-the-movement; they validate and connect with their viewers.” (Frank 7) I completely agree with Betsy Frank because if something is relevant to a teen’s life, they become very interested in it. The show being current is also a very big part to having a large community of viewers. If something is old, people tend to not be interested in it, thus the show may get a small amount of viewers.

Continuing with the whole teenage theme, Papacharissi and Mendelson research and key in on two main reasons why people watch reality TV. They surveyed 157 students, which is a pretty big size for a study group, but I think they should’ve had a larger group. I would say between 250 and 300 students because that gives a better, more accurate, idea of the reason why people watch the shows. Zizi and Andrew say in their article, “While college students were appropriate for study, because they represent a significant percent of the reality viewing audience, future research, of less exploratory nature, could survey a more representative and larger sample.” (Papacharissi 368) I agree, very much, with that statement because it doesn’t cover older viewers. For example, my dad is a huge fan of reality TV shows and my mom can’t stand reality shows, so that just shows that older people are a big part of viewers as well.

Works Cited
Kristin M. Barton Ph.D. (2009): Reality Television Programming and Diverging Gratifications: The Influence of Content on Gratifications Obtained, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 53:3, 460-476 Amber L. Ferris, Sandi W. Smith, Bradley S. Greenberg, & Stacy L. Smith (2007): The Content of Reality Dating Shows and Viewer Perceptions of Dating, Journal of Communication, 57, 490-510 Betsy Frank (2003): Check Out Why Young Viewers Like Reality Programming, Broadcasting & Cable, July 07 2003, 7 Laurie Ouellette (2010): Reality TV Gives Back: On the Civic Functions of Reality Entertainment, Journal of Popular Film and Television, 38:2, 66-71 Zizi Papacharissi Ph.D. & Andrew L. Mendelson Ph.D. (2007): An Exploratory Study of Reality Appeal: Uses and Gratifications of Reality TV Shows, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 51:2, 355-370 Laura Vandenbosch & Steven Eggermont (2011): Temptation Island, The Bachelor, Joe Millionaire: A Prospective Cohort Study on the Role of Romantically Themed Reality Television in Adolescents' Sexual Development, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 55:4, 563-580 Christopher Wilson, Tom Robinson & Mark Callister (2012): Surviving Survivor: A Content Analysis of Antisocial Behavior and Its Context in a Popular Reality Television Show, Mass Communication and Society, 15:2, 261-283

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