The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences (Critical Cultural Communication)

Communication Matters
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The status of the award and blogging in general is much maligned in this episode: here blogs are a place only for gossip and personal gripes. In contrast to magazine publishing, epitomized by Mode as well financed, professional, and garnering large audiences, here blogging is disparaged as amateur, irrelevant, personal, and of low moral worth. When references to reality television appear, the amateur cast members are similarly marginalized.

By addressing these subordinate versions, the shows both express and contain anxieties that these cheap alternatives pose to their highly invested institutions.

Moreover, all shows include characters who make use of their talents to rise to the top, despite their humble beginnings, including Wilhelmina and increasingly Betty herself on Ugly Betty; Liz Lemon on 30 Rock; talent manager Eric Murphy on Entourage; and, perhaps most explicitly, Don Draper on Mad Men. Characters like Don are testimony to popular perceptions of the media world as a dream factory that produces not only dreams for audiences, but also the dream of a professional life unhindered by inauspicious beginnings.

The media industries have, in practice, been more accessible than other professions to people with more native wit and work ethic than social or educational capital.

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And yet the shows intimate that practitioners in these select industries have been admitted precisely because of the exceptionalism of their inherent abilities and unwavering perseverance. Given the threats facing media professionals, we expected interviewees to reinforce the distinctiveness of the professional media environment as well as the unique skills of the people working within them.

In one version of this, interviewees claimed that the media setting mattered less than the characters and their relation- ships. Behind the Gilt Curtain also set in workplaces: law firms, police departments, political offices, or emergency rooms. In a move that could be read as apologetic, some interviewees suggested that the significance of the settings that link the shows—their glamour—was a response to audience demand more than to their own creative commitments. That makes shows [starring] Ozzy Osbourne or Kim Kardashian fascinating.

I mean I literally have no ass left. My hours and my pay are ridiculous. These interview responses were initially confusing for us. Instead, our interlocutors downplayed the significance of the media industry settings and emphasized their hard work over their creative talents or professional experience. However, we realized that there were two strategies that the interviewees employed to reassert the legitimacy of their roles. The first concerns the seeming lack of importance of the media industry setting, where the context of the shows was less significant than other fictional shows, and what was important were the characters and their relationships.

By doing so, they reaffirmed a central tenet of their craft.

Reference sources and background info

The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences (Critical Cultural Communication) [Katherine Sender] on *FREE* shipping on. The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences. Katherine Sender. Copyright 2 Gender and Genre: Making Over Women's Culture. (pp. ).

Just Shoot Me was kind of cynical. At first, this disavowal of any similarities seemed counterintuitive, but it served as a means by which respondents could intimate their innovation and talent. Conceding the fact that their own show shared traits with those preceding it would diminish their unique creative vision. By attributing their successes not to their imaginative genius, but to their work ethos and professional skills e.

These representations suggest that, in traditional media, personnel have staying power through talent and perseverance, as opposed to the flash-in-the-pan celebrity of opportunistic amateurs. Reflexive inoculation Although these shows incorporate reflexive strategies to address challenges facing media industries, these strategies are not deployed evenly. Audience savvy and direct feedback loops enabled by new media have been absorbed into these shows as a reflexive inoculation. By self-referentially acknowledging audience savvy, shows about media industries can appear to be reflexive while containing an awareness of the real threats to the industry.

Through ironic nods to audience knowledge and reciprocity, the shows make a virtue of what might otherwise be a fatal glimpse into the artifices of media production. But contrary to what we expected to find, there were major disparities among the very real challenges that media industries are experiencing, the underplaying of many of these challenges in the shows, and the disregard for the critical condition of the traditional media industries by its writers and producers. Reflexive approaches to contemporary declines in revenue and competition from non- and semiprofessional labor were not especially salient, either in the shows or in how producers talked about the shows and their professional challenges.

Behind the Gilt Curtain Producers seemed to be relatively unconcerned about changing economic circuits and may be somewhat protected from them by industry executives. There was also little reflexivity in both the shows and interviews about the possible threats to fictional television professionals posed by amateur media production and reality television.

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Writers and producers were much more concerned with affirming their craft than they were with leaping to the defense of the industry as a whole. Instead, they were self-effacing about the frivolous, glamorous contexts in which their shows took place. Our interviewees all emphasized their commitment to hard work, creativity, and a quality product irrespective of the workplace featured in the series.

Nor do we wish to ascribe to these individuals some form of false consciousness; the challenges of this unique moment are no doubt felt unevenly throughout the industry. Instead, we can account for the deflection of these issues in the shows and our interviews in a number of ways. Some of the challenges emphasized in the trade press, such as the encroachments of amateur labor, may actually have little impact on the producers themselves; they have made their professional reputations and can rely on these for future work.

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Other challenges, they may care little about; the labor practices of media industries have long demanded that workers be flexible, adaptable, and transient—you are only as good as your last television show e. Alternatively, our interviewees may have feigned nonchalance because their professional roles demand a level of cool about an always-turbulent industry. Reflexivity may function less as a democratic opening up of production practices, however, than a defensive containment.

References Albiniak, P. Reality TV: The work of being watched. Andrejevic, M. Watching television without pity: The productivity of online fans. Television and New Media, 9 1 , 24— Biressi, A. Reality TV: Realism and revelation. London, UK: Wallflower.

Reality TV? Let’s call it manufactured television - Kaitlyn Bristowe - TEDxVancouver

Bratslavsky, L. Brodesser-Akner, C. Advertising Age.

Resources on television studies

In this way, I'm engaging in the type of analysis that Jason Mittell calls for, which at its base, conceives of television genres as discursive practices. Reality TV, like my other passions — memoir and blogs — gives me access to raw emotion and takes me beyond my own neighborhood and experiences. Writers and producers were much more concerned with affirming their craft than they were with leaping to the defense of the industry as a whole. This trend to morph legitimate journalism into treacly middle-mind infotainment isn't merely an aesthetic offense. London: Pluto. Mathiesen, T.

Retrieved October 5, , from www. Critical industrial practice: Branding, repurposing, and the migratory patterns of industrial texts. Television and New Media, 7, 99— Caldwell, J. Perren Eds. Caves, R. Creative industries: Contracts between art and commerce.

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The Transformation of Intimacy: Classed Identities in the Moral Economy of Reality Television

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London, UK: Arnold. Deuze, M. Media work. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Convergence culture and media work. Media industries: History, theory, and method pp. Elliott, S.