“Game or Curse? ” Reality TV can be looked at in many different ways; ruining the lives of many celebrities, such as Les Dennis and Vanessa Feltz, but also bringing fame and fortune for such contestants as Brian Dowling and Kate Lawler. But there still is a big speculation to whether the genre is a game or a curse. The reality TV genre is a mixture 3 different genre. It’s a mixture of fly-on-the-wall documentary, game show, and soap opera. The individual genre is based on an insight of people’s lives, using various types of cameras and techniques to film an edit.
The shows focus on the contestants’ emotions, behaviour and reactions. Tasks are set for competition, and the winner usually receives a prize at the end of the show. The show usually lasts for around 9 weeks and the audience gets quite involved, as new tasks are brought in each week, bringing in elements of soap opera to the genre. All three genres are brought together to create a whole new genre, known as “Reality TV”. Reality TV first began in America, around the early 90’s, where a documentary featured a reality format.
This was introduced by such shows as “Crimewatch” and various cop shows. The popularity of reality shows with a factual format increased towards the end of the 90’s, bringing in shows such as “Emergency 999”. Finally, a show called “Big Brother” was brought to the schedules in 2000. Based on George Orwell’s “1984”, the 9 week show proved to be very successful, and so sequels, Big Brother 2, 3 and 4, and also a celebrity version, were brought out in 2000-2003. Following “Big Brother’s” success, shows such as “Pop Idol”, “Pop Stars” and “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
” were introduced to TV, with huge TV ratings. The popularity of reality based documentaries has become so huge over the years that it is now has its own genre “Reality TV”, and is referred to as a genre in its own right. Reality TV shows are generally aimed at a younger audience, aged 14-35. The main elements of these shows seem to be fighting, sex and alcohol, which inevitably attract younger viewers. Shows, such as Big Brother, broadcasting sex, alcohol, swearing and foolish behaviour are seen by parents to be a bad role model for their children.
This means that the shows are not as popular for those aged 35+, with children, who do not drink or swear as they have to set good examples for their children. Although the shows have many negative points, Reality TV can also have positive effects. The shows can provide elements for conversation between the family and it can be made into a family event when watching the show, bringing the family closer together. Reality TV shows are very appealing due to the involvement of the audience. As the audience begin to watch a reality TV show, they feel involved, watching the contestants live their lives every day.
Reality TV shows are unpredictable, so the audience will continue watching, waiting for an event to happen. The tasks in the shows, such as in “Big Brother” and the “Bush-tucker trial” in “I’m a Celebrity… ” make the show exciting and the reactions of the contestants interest the audience. “Big Brother” involves the audience further by introducing polls to evict members out of the house. The audience is intrigued to find out who will leave the house, and it also makes more money for the business.
Moral implications are also part of the appeal to the audience, providing an interesting show and again making more money. Reality TV has had a lot of support from the media, as it creates interesting press. The media benefit greatly from reality TV shows, making money from stories created from events on the show, and any rumours about the contestants. A good example of this is when the media discovered about Jade Goody’s “one-armed lesbian” mother. This created huge press, exposing the unfortunate life of Jade Goody.
The media have released a new gimmick for BB 4, where The Sun is offering i?? 50,000 for the first couple who have sex in the house. This also shows that reality TV is quite dependant on the media for success, hoping for an outcome from this offer. Although the media has a big influence on reality TV’s success, the press can often interfere with people’s lives and the audience’s perception of the contestants. There are obvious ethical concerns here. Although Reality TV shows are generally very successful, many of the viewers and contestants have different views of the genre.
“Big Brother” encages a group of carefully selected people in an artificial environment, left to survive and interact with each other, like “caged animals”, whilst being filmed and cunningly edited for the world to see, like a “human experiment”. There are a lot of moral implications involved with reality TV, but editing is the main element. The reality TV shows are edited in such a way that a different character is created for each contestant. Clips are put together, forming a different view and personality of each person.
Mel Hill (BB1) was portrayed on-screen as a tart, due to the editors carefully picking clips and putting them together to exaggerate her flirty nature. Jade Goody (BB3) was also made a fool out of on the show, selecting her stupid mishaps, such as “completely stripping”, and broadcasting them on TV, making her seem incredibly dense and causing a great deal of embarrassment for her. This is morally wrong, as the millions of viewers watching do not know the contestants, so therefore assume their on-screen qualities are genuine. The contestants are carefully selected to be used on the show.
This selection process is done so that there is a mixture of contestants, selected so that there are deliberate personality clashes between them. These contestants are often psychologically unstable, such as Les Dennis and Vanessa Feltz, who have previously suffered from mentally associated problems in the past. These unstable people, intentionally selected so that they do not get on with one another, are made to complete tasks together as a team, given alcohol on a regular basis, and are placed in an “unnatural environment with sharp corners, to purposefully put one another on edge”.
(Quote taken from “The Curse of Big Brother”) Over the past few years, reality TV seems to have taken over. More and more shows appear on the schedules every season. However, audiences seem to be becoming bored with the genre. Each new show brought out is becoming less popular than the last, and the figures are beginning to show a decline. Viewing figures show that on the 1st night of BB4, 6. 8million. Within just weeks of viewing, figures dropped to 3. 5million viewers. Producers will eventually run out of ideas for the new shows, and the reality TV genre will slowly be pushed out of the business.
Even after experiencing bad press about many contestants of these shows, and watching the life-destroying after effects, people still want to apply for the shows, not knowing what they’re in for, resulting in more destroyed lives. Although Reality TV is good entertainment for many viewers, the genre has generally proved to have many moral implications. Producers of these shows are able to change the rules of the show at any time, making it ethically wrong, as the contestants did not know this when they first signed up for the show. Many contestants from these TV shows admit to having a terrible experience whilst being on the show.
Adele Roberts (BB3) “Can’t leave the house without wearing a hat”, whilst ‘Nasty Nick’ (BB1) “Fears going out after being taunted in the streets by the public”, and Tim Culley (BB3) even moved to South Africa to escape the distressing memories of his time on the show. Although the print media has much to blame for the dreadful effect the show has had on many people’s lives, the majority of the contestants also have themselves to blame for their losses, and must take responsibility for their own actions and free-will, and not just blame the producers.
If Jade Goody (BB3) had not consumed so much alcohol whilst on the show, she may have been able to prevent herself from total embarrassment. The truth to whether the reality TV genre really is a ‘game or curse’ can really only be discovered by the actual contestants that experience the ordeal, the majority of which claim that it’s a “plague that gets hold of you and doesn’t let go. “