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Reality television

reality - television - non-fiction - realism

Definition

Reality television is a genre of television programming which generally is unscripted, documenting actual events over fiction, and featuring "ordinary" people over professional actors. Although the genre has been featured since the early years of television, the current explosion of popularity dates from circa 2000 (particularly from Expedition Robinson). Critics of the genre have claimed that the term is a misnomer, as many reality TV shows put the participants in exotic locations and/or abnormal situations, thus not presenting any semblance of "reality." According to the Nielsen Media Research, reality shows account for about 56% of all of American TV shows (both in cable and broadcast), and also accounts to about 69% of all of the world TV shows (in cable and in broadcast). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality television [Jan 2006]

Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture (2000) - Clay Calvert

Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture (2000) - Clay Calvert [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Booklist
Calvert examines the history and modern social forces behind the cultural phenomenon that he calls "mediated voyeurism." He focuses on popular daytime, tell-all television programs (Jerry Springer), real-time law enforcement programs (Cops), news programs (20/20), and recent hits (Survivor and Big Brother). Although many such programs seem "dumbed down," Calvert contrasts these programs' shared communal experiences with the disengagement of viewing without participating. He notes the confluence of technological, social, legal, and political factors that drive this mediated voyeurism, supported by traditional first amendment arguments even as the privacy of unwilling participants is invaded. Calvert analyzes how first amendment and democratic principles have shifted to significantly boosting the profit lines of media conglomerates with little concern for the common good. The press as a watchdog has lost its bite through alliances that overbalance "news" interests at the expense of law enforcement issues. This is an important analysis of American low cultural forces that has more than trivial significance. Vernon Ford Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

Book Description
Explores the roots and causes of our increasingly voyeuristic society and argues against using the First Amendment to safeguard our right to peer into others' lives.

From 24-hour-a-day "girl cam" sites on the World Wide Web to trash-talk television shows like "Jerry Springer" and reality television programs like "Cops," we've become a world of voyeurs. We like to watch others as their intimate moments, their private facts, their secrets, and their dirty laundry are revealed.

Voyeur Nation traces the evolution and forces driving what the author calls the 'voyeurism value.' Calvert argues that although spectatorship and sensationalism are far from new phenomena, today a confluence of factors-legal, social, political, and technological-pushes voyeurism to the forefront of our image-based world.

The First Amendment increasingly is called on to safeguard our right, via new technologies and recording devices, to peer into the innermost details of others' lives without fear of legal repercussion. But Calvert argues that the voyeurism value contradicts the value of discourse in democracy and First Amendment theory, since voyeurism by its very nature involves merely watching without interacting or participating. It privileges watching and viewing media images over participating and interacting in democracy.

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