Better Living through Reality TV: Television and by Laurie Ouellette

By Laurie Ouellette

Combining state of the art theories of tradition and govt with programming examples—including Todd TV, Survivor, and American IdolBetter residing via fact TV strikes past the verified matters of political financial system and cultural experiences to conceptualize television's evolving function within the modern period.

  • A significant textbook at the impression of fact and way of life tv on today’s programming, and on broader social, cultural and political trends
  • Draws on various examples from The Apprentice and American Idol to Extreme Makeover and Wife Swap
  • Argues that truth tv teaches audience to observe, encourage, increase, remodel and shield themselves within the identify of freedom, firm, and private responsibility

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Extra info for Better Living through Reality TV: Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship

Sample text

Such is the case with television's highprofile efforts to actively intervene in the lives of needy individuals. It is a sign of the times that, in the absence of public welfare programs, hundreds of thousands of people now apply directly to reality TV programs for housing, affordable healthcare, and other forms of assistance. The "do-good" trend illustrated by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Three Wishes, Miracle Workers, and similar charity programs requires us to move beyond political economic and representational analysis, to consider how TV mobilizes and coordinates private resources (money, volunteerism, skills/expertise) in order to remedy personal hardships.

Relying on professional coaches, motivators, and lifestyle experts, these programs advance liberal strategies of "governing at a distance" by linking social work as a residual form of public welfare to governing technologies of self-help and do-it-yourself entrepreneurialism. Some, like Dr. Phil and the reality soap Startiq,q Over, draw from corporate management techniques, among other resources, to help women "empower" themselves through self-governed behavioral regimens. Other, more specialized, TV interventions use a combination of disciplinary and self-help strategies to enable individuals to "help themselves" overcome alcoholism and drug abuse (Intervention), juvenile delinquency (Brat Camp), shopping addictions (Clean House), and poor eating habits (Honey We're Killiig the Kids), among other problems.

This approach to governing can be traced to the nineteenth century, when industrial capitalism gave shape to working-class populations whose feared association with disease, drunkenness, squalor, criminality, and vice made elites uneasy. " The development of expertise - along with professionals to authorize and administer it - provided one way of shaping and guiding human beings toward "better" strategies of selfregulation that was not tied to official state power. " The nascent mass-culture industry also emerged as a technology for "governing at a distance" to the extent that penny newspapers, mass-circulation magazines, nickelodeons, and silent feature films circulated forms of professional advice, social rules, and procedures, and techniques for everyday living within the cultural economy of capitalist democracy.

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