(1) reading theory and taking notes
(2) watching episods and paying attention to how I'm reacting and why, plus reading first-person accounts of being involved in the production
(3) conduct interviews with various people who have been on reality programs
(4) go through the application process for one show (probably Big Brother?) to get a first-person feel for how that works.
The first two are going quite well already, although I have a tendency with 1 to end up scrawling diatribes on how I agree or disagree with the theory rather than just noting what it is, and with 2 I keep getting accidentally more emotionally involved than I mean to. "Rewatch two entire series of television" is a lot easier when you don't care.
4 is pleasantly terrifying. I have the thirteen-page application all ready for me to fill out when I decide I am actually going through with this, which ideally will be soon, and I've figured out a fair amount of how I'm going to approach the required two-minute vide. I am in no way qualified for the show, and I am more than happy to own up to that, so I'll be focusing on how much I know ABOUT the show, and how I'm doing this project and applying is important for understanding it. It feels much more real if I'm actually applying, which is mostly why I'm doing this.
For the record, I have never served in the military, I have absolutely no "acting, singing, or performing aspirations," I've never been arrested or served a restraining order, and I have never hit or punched or kicked anyone/anything. I am pretty sure those answers rule me out already.
3 is where I'm stuck. In an ideal world I'd ask former contestants for their thoughts on Hunger Games, but I'm somehow doubting the probability of that. (NOT BECAUSE I ASSUME THEY CAN'T READ. For the record.) I wonder if Jenna Lewis or Tina Wesson or Rupert got it for their kids. That must be fun family reading times.
I keep thinking that I haven't done enough prep work to ask reasonable questions without using the book as a crutch. I say this even though I'm pretty sure I've done more prep work than at least 60% of the books of theory I've looked at. (I was going through old papers this weekend, and I found a long diatribe of mine about how the portrayal of women of color on reality shows is flawed, but the portrayal of women of color on reality shows in books of reality theory is so much worse. The fact that someone thought they could equate Omarosa from The Apprentice, Alicia from Survivor, and Gladys from Road Rules is basically the height of this- if you're going to label them all the token "Angry Black Woman" you should at least point out how incredibly different they all are, to the point where the accusations of stereotype falls apart, because there is virtually no one who WOULDN'T fit the category. Basically, it's a long rant that goes like this:
The very article to which I am referring talks about the feedback loop, where people on reality television know what is expected of them and behave to fit that personality. On an All-Stars season, people are going to be attempting to recreate the role they performed the first time they appeared. Saying Alicia took on a stereotype on the all-star season is a fundamentally different statement than saying she took it on in Australia, the season she was originally on.After that I have notes on how sexual assault is portrayed in competitive reality shows, and the incredibly problematic blame-the-victim mentality that leaves me unsure of whether it's the characters presenting it or the editors. I really wish I'd cited things in this, rather than just scribbled down what was infuriating me, because this could be a really interesting paper if it had any references whatsoever beyond my own rage.)
Basically, I need to push myself past this paranoia and just start contacting people. Preferably in a way that doesn't make me sound like a creepy stalker-y fan.