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Consuming Reality: The Commercialization of Factual Entertainment by June Deery (Paperback, 2012)

Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? Enter your email address below and we will send you your username. Drawing on theories of performativity, Steinhoff suggests that transformation can operate in paradoxical ways, as a form of empower- ment and as a form of subjugation to societal standards. While her sample from Buffalo, New York, considered the achievement of beauty ideals as a form of upward social mobility, her sample from Los Angeles, California, perceived body image as a status symbol.

This show aired from to in the United States, providing home improvements to families facing some type of hardship. Whether in the realm of fairy tales or in real life, this power is not necessarily positive. In fairy tales, transformation goes beyond the idea of getting a new physical appearance. The same could be said about reality shows such as Beauty and the Geek, which had five sea- sons in the United States — and gained more than twenty international versions. In each episode the contestants are tested in their new skills, and the couple that learns the most receives a monetary reward in the end.

In the second, the women dressed as princesses had to grab a frog, recite a love poem, and then kiss the amphibian. But the dragon-slayer ATU is a tale type found in numerous countries.

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In addition, the partic- ipants of Beauty and the Geek Australia — , dressed as princes and princesses, went to a ball in a horse-drawn carriage. Connections with the world of fairy tales can also be found in shows that do not follow an obvious fairy-tale structure, as does The Bachelor, or have explicit references, such as Beauty and the Geek.

Consider, for instance, Undercover Boss — , which originated in in the United Kingdom and received franchises in more than ten countries, including the United States. The executive goes in disguise through the use of wigs, for instance as a way to get information about what it is really going on in the company and to get to know the employees.

Moreover, reality television provides insights about our fascination with fairy tales and the potential to reinvent these narratives through new venues. Ultimately, fairy tales attract and connect viewers to certain types of reality shows while also gaining a more pervasive circulation thanks to these shows to the extent that some reality series might even be read as one of the many different variants in which fairy tales exist. Even though some programs discussed in this chapter are no longer on air, reality television seems far from breaking away from the fairy-tale spell as long as it continues to be a strong, mutually beneficial relationship.

Bettelheim, Bruno. New York: Vintage Books. Bourboulis, Photeine P. Madison: Wisconsin UP. Bratich, Jack Z. London: I. Calvert, Clay. Boulder, CO: Westview P. Deery, June. New York: Palgrave. Graham-Bertolini, Alison.


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Hill, Annette. New York: Routledge. Huff, Richard M. Reality Television.

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Westport: Praeger. Koven, Mikel J. Film, Folklore, and Urban Legends. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. Lee, Linda J.

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Detroit: Wayne State UP. Lieberman, Marcia. McMurria, John. Miller, Toby. Television Studies: The Basics. Murray, Susan, and Laurie Ouellette. Oring, Elliott. Logan: Utah State UP. Orosan-Weine, Pamela. Ouellette, Laurie. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Palmer, Gareth. Hence, even if the entire phenomenon were to disappear tomorrow, it would still be important to know why this programming appeared on the scene and why it lasted as long as it did. Emerging during a large upheaval in the media industry at the end of the last century, reality TV RTV leapt into prominence at a time when television contracts and conventions were coming under tremendous stress, and when DVRs, multiple channels, and the Internet were beginning to threaten long-established economic models.

In response, RTV producers began to redefine relations between audiences, texts, and delivery systems—even between individuals and their society.

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Advertising needs to be taken more seriously. Looked at as a whole, advertising has a profound impact on society: Its creations appropriate and transform a vast range of symbols and ideas; its unsurpassed communicative powers recycle cultural models and references back through the network of social interactions. This venture is unified by the discourse through and about objects, which bonds together images of persons, products, and well-being.

Except that as we read the effusive language about how much better it will be, we realize with a sinking heart that probably the opposite is the case. This is the increasingly common experience of being at the receiving end of doublespeak, of deliberately ambiguous communication that spins and obfuscates. It is just a minor example of a huge and largely unexamined area of cultural production that goes by the professional name of public relations PR. My argument in this chapter is that if we are interested in the media and its impact on society, then we have to look at the huge role public relations plays in mediating our reality.

Yet despite being drenched in this anonymous and powerful discourse, surprisingly few commentators have noted its extent. In building homes, reality makeovers also participate in the building of nations.

At least it is my contention that the series Home Edition can be read as styling not only personal but also national identity as it reaches to bring the powerful currents of nationalism into the commercial sphere. In this way, national identity is privatized and national pride made commercially productive. So what is going on here?