The evolution of mass media and the constant display of ordinary people on television have revolutionized the programs that we now watch. Most of us question the “reality” of these programs, but we do not argue their entertainment values; this project examines the popular phenomenon of reality TV as a genre in popular culture. Specifically, it investigates the inherent plausibility and value of reality TV through an original reality TV production. By emulating current reality television shows, we sought to create a “successful” reality video production.
While researching we found that the number of reality shows had increased incredibly over the last ten years. We also discovered that these shows were in fact more popular than many traditional television shows. Our surveys suggested that people watched reality shows because they were entertaining and put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
To test our theory that reality TV is far from “real,” our group wrote, acted in, directed, and produced an original video production set on Cornell’s campus. Our goal was to prove the assertion that the “reality” in the genre of “reality” TV is an artificial construction, for the majority of these productions are staged performances that are subject to the same scripting and editing procedures that traditional productions undergo. We plan to offer a running viewing of the video on a laptop computer while discussing our analytical conclusions regarding our own production and the genre of reality television.
Thaddeus Barry, ’08 Charles City, IA
Major: Sports Management
Sponsor: Carol Wightman