Friday, December 3, 2010

Week 13: On Presentations--Reality Television

This week, we didn’t have a whole lot of time for a discussion of the readings, but since the group projects both focused on how cultural products are localized, namely, how television shows cross borders and achieve success, I think it’s a good jumping off point. Audience is the most important factor when trying to market a television show, despite a project’s budget or content. If the audience isn’t the first consideration, they will notice, and not return to a television show. This has been in large part why reality programs are so adaptable cross-culturally. Reality programs, which tend to aim for the lowest common denominator demographically, have a relatability factor which scripted shows can lack (in the sense that they are generally focused on niche markets). Whether reality programs focus on health issues, entertainment, competition, or personal achievement, there will always be an audience for it.

What audiences may not realize, however, is just how orchestrated a reality program is—everything from product placement to the people chosen for the show is a carefully strategized plan designed to create suspense and drama, or entertainment or salacious television that will suck viewers in. This could be representative of a Western culture (where the idea for reality programming originated) which is replete with consumerist messages, or could merely be reflective of a commodification of experience which is necessary in a convergent communication culture which requires profit to stay alive. Either way, the emergence and sustainability of reality television has been an interesting trend to watch.

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