Amy Stern (bigbrotherreads) wrote,
Amy Stern

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The Work of (Writing About) Being Watched

The problem with reading Andrejevic is that I find myself writing down every other sentence. Some of it is just good to have sources for, and some is useful theory. I don't agree with a lot of it (and given it was published in '04, some parts are already out of date), but you really can't have nonfiction about reality television without at least name-checking Andrejevic.

The really interesting part here, for me, is that what Andrejevic describes as the biggest appeal of reality television is exactly what is removed in Hunger Games: audience desire that they could be one of the ones on screen. Reality TV as democratization fails when the program is overseen by a corrupt government requiring citizens to attend.

I have to force myself to skip a fair amount of the content of the book. For the purpose of this project, I'm not particularly interested in the political implications of reality programming. I mean, I know it all ties together (it's not possible to separate the political or the social from the text, any more than it is in other mediums), but the focus seems to be all wrong anyway.

(Of course, given that the book "does not provide a neutral assessment of the emergene of a new programming trend but rather a critical interpretation of its significance," I'm thinking my theoretical focus in the book should be less Andrejevic and some DeBord. The idea of the Spectacle may be more apt than what essentially is viewer analysis. Andrejevic is required reading for studying reality TV with good reason, largely because he supplies the foundation for lots of other theorists, but if I'm not dealing with THOSE theorists, do I still deal with his book?)

Sometimes I get the feeling that most reality TV theorists don't really like the genre, and they're just writing about it because it's a trend they want to be in on. It doesn't surprise me, but I do find it disappointing. If you don't love some aspect of it, what's the point?

EDIT: Okay, it's kind of interesting to see that the ways theorists interpret audience reaction shifts. The more contemporary the source, the more likely they are to believe that viewers do not see "reality TV" as synonymous with "real."
Tags: andrejevic, hunger games
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