Archive for the ‘reality television’ Tag

Fake Reality   10 comments

This week, the authors of the Open Book Blog Hop are discussing “reality” television. How do I “really” feel about it and why?

First, check out what my fellow authors have to say on the subject.

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I have a love-hate relationship with reality television. There’s a perverse enjoyment in peeking into the lives of other people. I felt it for the first time back in 1973 when our local PBS station broadcast An American Family – a fly-on-the-wall documentary of what purported to be a typical American family. It even documented the break-up and subsequent divorce of Bill and Pat Loud, the subject couple, and their son’s coming out as gay. This is the first reality television series, followed shortly by a BBC series along the same lines. As an adolescent forbidden by my parents to peek through the neighbors’ curtains, there was something very peeping-Tom chic about the whole experience.

As a journalism major in the early 1980s, my media ethics class revisited the series when we studied media manipulation. The Louds claimed the material had been edited to emphasize the negative, which called attention to how nonfiction narratives are fashioned by media manipulation. Did the camera’s presence encourage the subjects to perform? Do we perhaps perform at all stages of our lives? Was the camera acting neutral observer or manipulative catalyst? Did the editors essentially create a fake story drawn from real elements?

And was any of that ethical? For the record, I had become peeping-Tom adverse by this time. As a journalist, I was all about reporting on what people did in their public lives, but I thought we ought to leave people’s private lives private.

This was all before the days  of the highly staged reality television that we know today. Jersey Shore doesn’t concern itself with whether or not the presence of the camera manipulates reality. It just out and out manipulates it. My husband and I interviewed for a reality television program on remote cabin staking in Alaska. (It was mostly his idea because the production company would pay for the cabin materials). They wanted to film us building a cabin by hand in September while also hunting for moose and fishing (out of season) and could we also raise animals? Oh, and by the way, could we suck our family and friends into this deal and get them to fight among themselves?


Although Brad is a great amateur actor, I think we all agreed that this would be torture on a stick. Our daughter disappeared to the bluegrass gypsy circuit, our teenage son announced that he did not want to appear on camera, I knew I couldn’t get two months off work, and Brad bow hunts, which is entirely boring when done right. Our land has no cliffs to fall off of and none of us were volunteering to fall into the semi-frozen creek accidentally on purpose. We also weren’t going to lose our hunting and fishing rights by appearing to violate State hunting and fishing laws on camera. While we were pretty sure we could talk friends into helping us build a cabin, we were equally certain we couldn’t get them to fight or have affairs on camera. When they found out that our remote cabin site is actually within hiking distance of a road, the production company found others to be in their “reality” show. I believe it’s called “Land Rush”. Which, by the way, we know one of those people and he says it is an entirely artificial experience. The trials and travails of getting his materials didn’t happen. They were actually delivered by helicopter from Lowes and then they set up the difficulties. We don’t know the Kilchers and don’t care. They do show some Alaskan experiences, hyped up to make things more entertaining. They seem like a nice family, but they might want to go back to being anonymous and that’s hard to do, especially when your sister and daughter is Jewel.

We are SO glad we weren’t selected! It will take us a little longer to build our cabin, but it won’t be on the tourism circuit. Whew! Notoriety bullet dodged! Good for us!

Sometimes we watch reality television, but the fact is that the only ones I can stand are the ones that are entirely fake. There was one called The Colony that actually gave me a few ideas for Transportation Project. I like the ones where modern people try out a historical era. But I never really forget that the producers wanted us to fake some aspects of “reality” and so I watch them strictly for entertainment purposes … and not very often. We’ve never watched Jersey Shore or Big Brother or …. Yeah, we just don’t want them that much. It comes down to this. We love good acting and most reality television stars couldn’t act their way out of a wet rice-paper bag. So, I have to say, I am very much looking forward to The Colony starring Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies, because I think the version with the Hollywood actors might “read” more real than the “reality television” series.

Tamsen Schultz was born and raised in Northern California in a family of readers. She is a three-time finalist in the PNWA contest, a published author with her first short story included in Line Zero magazine in 2011 and a debut novel released in 2012. She live in the Seattle area in a house full of males including her husband, two (loud) sons, a cat and dog and a gender neutral, but well stocked, wine rack. She loves horses and rides any and every chance she gets in hopes of becoming a dressage queen. Amazon Author Page

Stay Tuned for the Blog Hop   2 comments

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With the holidays behind us, we turn our attention to … reality television.

Do you love it? Hate it? Why?

You can join my fellow blog hoppers and I if you want.

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