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Reality TV and Culture Industires

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Introduction

'Criticism and respect disappear in the culture industry; the former becomes a mechanical expertise, the latter is succeeded by a shallow cult of personalities' (Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industries). To what extent does the rise of reality TV support Adorno and Horkheimer's statement? Within this essay I will explore the genre of Reality TV by drawing upon Adorno & Horkheimer's theory on the 'culture industry'. Firstly, I will begin by defining Reality TV, looking at its historical, cultural and social significance alongside the controversies surrounding the genre. Secondly I will investigate Adorno and Horkheimer's statement by looking at the morality and standardization that exist within Reality TV, highlighting the 'attributed' celebrity ('celetoid'), voyeurism and general erosion of public and private spheres. Over the last decade, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in the popularity of television shows. Primetime TV was generally reserved for soap operas, series dramas and comedy shows. However, the digital revolution gave room for channels to be more flexible in their screening, with more channels offering different possibilities for the direction of popular culture. This led to the general rise of Reality TV and the desertion of blatant escapism in dramas and soap operas to a less carefully constructed form of escapism through judgment and interactivity. ...read more.

Middle

You Decide!" and Pop Idol's " But this time...You Choose..." (Holmes, 2004). The consumer has the power of judgment and becomes the critic. This gives the viewer a sense of control over their viewing that no other type of show can give them and by participating they become part of something on a much larger scale than just TV. They could be the reason why someone gets a record deal, or wins �75,000. Furthermore, we can begin to see that this interactivity and appeal expands into social grounds. It becomes a shared viewing experience between a whole nation, much like football and other national events. It is further supported by coverage across a range of mediums and often shows like 'Big Brother' and 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!' get front-page headlines. This makes Reality TV as common a topic of discussion as the week's current affairs (Bratich, 2006). And this kind of need to know mindless popular culture for the sake of being socially 'in the know' is part of why Adorno and Horkheimer were so critical. For the second half of this essay I shall look at what Adorno & Horkheimer believed and explain how this and their statement relates to Reality TV. ...read more.

Conclusion

The culture industry numbs this sense but at the same time will claim to promote it. So when people think they are being critical of what the industry produces, they are really only criticizing through the industry's guidelines of what they should be critical about. In respect to civil liberties, it seems that the nation moves as one passive body that takes an earthquake to wake up. With all this in mind I feel that Adorno & Horkheimer's statement on criticism becoming a 'mechanical expertise' within the culture industry is supported fairly well by Reality TV. This is because the genre acts as a method of desensitization to critical values that one might hold. In doing so, it increases the likelihood of the occurrence of 'popular culture criticism'. In conclusion it can be said that Adorno and Horkheimer's statement is generally supported on the whole by the rise of Reality TV through hidden ethical considerations that lead to a lack in analysis. Reality TV appears to have eroded the distinction between private and public spheres and it seems that we may be at a crucial pivot where our own integrity and freedom is being threatened as the concept of the culture industry can now act as an insight into the behavior of the mass audience and the reality of globalization. ...read more.

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