40 Hours of Television

The class is over, but the discussion continues. Does the media shape reality, or does reality shape the media? Art can imitate life...and life can imitate art. "40 Hours of TV" will explore the media and its impact on us all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Pseudo Reality of Reality TV

In 1998 the film The Truman Show was released. Directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol, the film starred Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, a man whose life, unbeknownst to him, was actually a television show. Truman's world was actually a huge, elaborate set, and his friends and neighbors were actors.

We're expected to accept a reality that would allow a corporation to adopt a child, and then broadcast the life of that child 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The production costs alone would not sustain for 30 years, but never mind. Andrew Niccol seemed to have had access to a time machine where he could travel a few decades in the future to see what direction reality shows would take. Could reality programming evolve to the level of The Truman Show? Probably not, although the concept has been explored in programs like The Joe Schmo Show, which aired in 2003.

Of course, reality shows are anything but. While the shows may feature real people, producers are on hand to create a narrative out of the hours of video tape recorded. Situations can be created with the purpose of causing a reaction with the cast, and people are cast into certain personality roles.

Viewers paying attention to the first couple seasons of The Apprentice noticed something odd: when someone was fired by Trump, we'd see them climbing into a cab, which carried them away, presumably home (but in actuality to a nearby hotel); New York City cabs have a cab number on the door. So, we'd see someone like Omarosa climb into cab #384D, and in the next shot, the cab number would be #4924. On The Apprentice, each cast member recorded at the beginning of the show their farewell cab scene. And when the contestant was fired, we'd see them in a different cab. There was also the situation with Trump in the board room and his voice overs. Trump would be talking on camera, and the scene would cut to a reaction shot of one of the contestants, while Trump would speak off camera. But the audio of those off camera monologues by Trump sounded different, like they were recorded louder, or something. As it turned out, Trump was recording the voice over at a different time and place. These issues of continuity were corrected in the last season of The Apprentice.

So, even on a reality show, reality is what the producers and directors want it to be, and not what we actually see.

6 Comments:

Blogger dotbar said...

Heyyy...I never noticed all of that! You're ruining my wonderfully, comfortable reality show viewing pleasure. Shame on you.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Scott C. Smith said...

Well, it's not ruining so much as pointing out the nagging issues of continuity. "The Apprentice" was a pretty obvious example, but I'm sure other reality shows face similar problems with continuity.

It's still entertaining...and I'm still tuning in.

1:12 AM  
Blogger dunxnud said...

I think that anybody that thought what we were getting on relaity TV is reality is a bit naive and so you pick up on something that should be obvious to us all. But think about it: if people can get engrossed in other forms of TV entertainment, the manufacturers ahe a lot of credibility capital that they can draw on before people are not going to buy the package. Some other reality stuff just plain disgusts me. On the swan they manipulate 2 sisters into competing against each other for a place in the pageant, and then, when the one doesn't get in, as is obviously going to be the case, they inlcude the spurned sister as a "wild-card" entrant, and so continue the farce. they are not shy to exploit people for ratings and that is worse than an innocent fudge like a taxi or something. Dunno if you agree?

6:15 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

No doubt the "Reality" shows are limited in creatity. I enjoy watching many, but like any other tv, one must truly realize that there is an intended plot to every show ever invented.

5:27 AM  
Blogger cspanjunky said...

The Airwaves are a vaste toxic wasteland.

Congress needs to hold hearings on the state of the Airwaves.

They will find that the Broadcast and Cable companies have not used the Broadcast Spectrum (aka the PUBLIC AIRWAVES) in "...the Spirit of Public Interest, Necessity and Convenience" as mandated by the FCC.

They would also find that the Broadcast and Cable companies have made so much money "...doing It's worst, It can't afford to do better".

The Broadcast and Cable companies along with Congress can make it right.

Create 10 new C-SPAN Companion Networks!

Congress has given away the Public Airwaves for decades.

In the next few years they will give away another 100 billion dollars of the Public's Airwaves.

What does the Citizenry get in return?

The C-SPAN Paradigm is balanced and fair.

Unedited and Undefiled.

C-SPAN is the only thing we can all agree on.

http://www.cspanjunkies.org/

11:00 AM  
Blogger cspanjunky said...

The C-SPAN Archives are burgeoning.

Every day C-SPAN records 20-40 events per day.

If C-SPAN records an event, and it is seen by no one, is it recorded (did the event happen?)

Of course it is. It's in the C-SPAN Archives.

There's more programming than can be aired by 3 C-SPAN Networks

C-SPAN is Our National Treasure.

If you are not for C-SPAN you're not for
Civics
Democracy
Participation

The Citizens for C-SPAN Companion Networks

thecccn.org

cspanjunkies.org

8:59 AM  

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