TV program

The aim of this work is to understand the phenomenon of the new television program – reality shows, in the other words, the TV program that is based on a real life. A post-modern society and their way of thinking changed dramatically in the past few decades, with the appearance of the Internet and other communication services to become known and famous, became easier than ever. Because of all these alterations, the concept of fame changed and being famous just for being famous is something new now.

Notably, it is very important to understand the real meaning behind the “new” type of fame and why it is the one of the main influences for the participants. As a result, I will try to find out what kind of people want to be a part of this creation and for what reason most of them will be identified as narcissists Essentially, do reality shows reflect the realism of humanity or is it just a new way of entertainment? This and the rest of the issues will be analyzed along the article.

Key words: reality shows, narcissism, fame, post-modern culture, entertainment There have been many deep changes in the realms of culture, media, and related technologies, as well as a change in their social meaning in the past few decades. In the first half of the 20th century, in an age before television, cinema was a form of entertainment that most of the people enjoyed as it was a distraction from a daily life. In the second half of the 20th century, when television appeared, cinema started competing, which made a film theatre become less interesting. The rise of television gave a possibility to the consumer to choose films and different types of shows, according to their taste and their own identity.

The needs and desires of the consumers made the world think and the reality television have been invented. With that said, reality television has been around more than a decade, but just recently with the explosion of the Internet it has reshaped the meaning of fame and entertainment. Andy Warhol’s prophetic prediction, more than forty years ago, that everyone would have their fifteen minutes of fame, is now being played out on television, as ordinary people put themselves in front of the cameras so that millions of other people could watch them live out their lives. Being famous seems like a game, that everyone can play.

The participants, who are full of narcissistic characteristics, enter this new fame-searching world with their outrageous behaviours, which seems to be the only needed quality in this mass media production. Most of these changes mentioned above have impacted all aspects and outlets of the cultural production and have in many cases also had an effect upon society and social organization. In spite of these many changes the concept of the culture industry continues both as a useful theoretical concept and as an analytical tool[1].

The term “cultural industries” has many definitions because it can be understood in many different ways. Raymond Williams once described culture as a “whole way of life”; while some thinkers understood that this definition in the broadest anthropological sense can be also applied to cultural industries. However, cultural industries has tented to be used in a much more restricted way than this and nowadays it is usually understood as a combination of creation, production and distribution of goods. These goods are known as television, radio, cinema, newspaper, publishing industries etc. The aim of all of these artefacts is to communicate with an audience and to let them to interpret it.

The Culture Industry is a concept created by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer and it is related to the Marxist philosophy. It suggests that popular culture is a factory and through this factory standardized goods are mass manufactured to pacify the population and behind it stands the interests of monopoly capitalism. These created goods don’t represent real creativity or real art, but it is a satisfactory form of imagination that is mass-produced. Films and radio no longer need to present themselves as art. The truth that they are nothing but business is used as an ideology to legitimize the trash they intentionally produce. They call themselves industries; and when their directors’ incomes are published, any doubt about the social utility of the finished products is removed. [2]

In their way of thinking, all the cultural goods have just one purpose – to be best sellers and to make money. All the products seem to be identical, adapted for big audiences; some kind of innovation is excluded, because it might require some risk and that is something that is not necessary. Individuals do not need to think or choose, the industry already chose for them. All mass production produced by entertainment manufactures will be consumed with attentiveness even when the consumer is distraught. Adorno argued in his book Dialectic of Enlightenment that the more the cultural industry implants itself into society the more choices it can make for the consumers by controlling and disciplining them (Adorno, 2002).

This means that by accepting the ideologies told to us through the media it makes those social institutions more powerful and the audience more submissive/passive. For him Culture Industry is the “entertainment business” that deceives the audience into thinking that it represents everyday life and promises an escape from every day troubles. Reality television is a new form of culture industry. It is an entertainment program, that attracts millions of people and it is as popular as ever. It’s Friday night and I’m watching the finale of Teen Big Brother. It’s an emotional experience. The participants explain why they should win. They go around the group, each one speaking with tightness in their throat. Everyone says the same thing: “I should win because I’ve been myself – what you see is what you get”. The competitor cries. Everyone cries. Everyone votes.[3]

This citation exemplifies the concept what do people think when they hear the name: reality show. However, the history of the reality TV begins with Allen Funt’s show called Candid Camera, which aired in 1948. When the show appeared, television was in its infancy, many believed that small screen with its poor image quality was best for live events. The show was about broadcasting reactions of ordinary people to unsuspected pranks.

The show had 5 basic categories: pure observation of the ordinary people, wish of fulfilment, human frailties, the exposé of tricks of the trade and the small crisis[4]. There were many different reactions during these experiments, some would hide their faces, some would laugh, some would hug Funt and some would show some aggression. The basic principle of the show was to make viewer laugh, it was known as a comedy program for all the family. By that time there were no thoughts that any of reality shows would ever be associated with narcissism or it would be the key to open the doors to fame. Entertainment nowadays isn’t understood in the same way as it was understood as well as the concept of reality show has changed dramatically and most of the people associate it with mindless entertainment.

Nowadays, the reality television is associated with anything and everything, from birth to death, from people to pets. The success of a reality show depends on originality or innovativeness. More peculiar, edgier the subject matter is, more audience and more feedback the show will receive. Pushing the boundaries and creating a character that does that, without doubt shows a large cultural acceptance. Many things singly happen for no reason, but for any social phenomenon like reality television, it must be and it is caused by numerous results of historical, political and economical reasons. Many of these changes of humanity are known as postmodernism.

We live in a century, where we can do whatever we want, there are no restrictions or limits. The post-modern television differs from modern television, which is less moralizing, more ironic, more freeform and more real. People more and more try to break all types of rules and try to find a way to reflect themselves. Our contemporary society creates the products (reality shows), because they are a reflection of the social needs.

The viewers do not watch the reality TV because they want to discuss it with their friends, nor it is true that they are less intelligent or less educated than the ones who do watch it. Most of them watch it because of a simple human curiosity. In a negative way of thinking, television culture is getting more and more superficial, with the proof that more and more people watch reality television, which means that the society and the values are radically changing.

The Real World – the show that opened the doors for the viewers to see real life dramas. It appeared in 1992 on MTV and is the longest-running program in MTV’s history and one of the longest-running reality series in television. When the show appeared, it wasn’t clear will it be successful or not, but it was apparent that the audience (17-25yrs.) was hungry to see their generation portrayed as they saw themselves. Many of the participants, were nothing more just kids and soon as the show began they became well known as well as well-paid celebrities. What exactly they did, no one really understood, but their behaviour was seen as the reflection of the culture of young adults.

The behaviour is one of the main focuses in this work and it can’t be dismissed, because compared to previous society values it can be seen as harmful and intolerable. This behaviour is so dysfunctional, but it is being accepted as fascinating and even desirable. In spite of what many viewers and participants think about the behaviour and the personas in the reality shows, this behaviour will be identified as narcissism.

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