I haven't typed up my reactions to the chapter in Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture yet, largely because it's more about the fan culture than about the text itself, but I think everything he discusses (largely about Survivor Sucks) is a demonstration of the most basic kind of media literacy required to watch these shows, taken to extremes. The difference between "I hate how [X] is acting" and "I hate the edit [X] is getting" (not to mention "I hate how [X] is acting but the edit makes it look worse") is the heart of what I want to talk about with this project.
(I'm skipping a tangent right now about how people saying "I love/hate [literary character Y]" is sign the writing's good, but "I love/hate [reality contestant X]" is a sign that the audience is unaware of the inherent construction. I will just say that if I were not aware of how much this would not actually improve my chances of getting a job, I would be seriously considering a PhD in media studies right now.)
Basically, I'm frustrated at the structure of how academia currently functions with regards to all of the subjects I'm interested in. I am genuinely kind of afraid the rest of my life will be dedicated to going to PCA/ACA conferences to give talks on papers like "Race and Big Brother 6" or "What's the difference between a sociopath and a winner?" (short answer: clinical diagnosis vs. a large sum of money).
Not that any of this has to do with this project, except I guess to once again clarify my goals: to talk bout reality television in a way which neither acts like it's trash that's only good breeding grounds for sociological research, or a hidden work of genius only appealing to people who really "get it".
Sequentially going through all the commentary tracks, incidentally, I'm about 3/4 of the way through with Australia (season 2- I'm at the commentary during the flood episode). I seriously have a list of separate academic projects I'd like to do about reality television at some point. My basic perspective on everything, at this point, is "why is this a valid tool when looking at scripted media but not unscripted?"
I don't think this project is going to be able to bridge the gap between pedagogical approaches to scripted and unscripted media, but I'd like for it to be a step in the right direction.