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July 16, 2007

Comments

stet

I think you might enjoy knowing that sociologist Javier Izquierdo actually claims in a recent book that Las Meninas is definitely better understood as a hidden-camera prank. Some chapters of that book are available in Spanish in Izquierdo's website:
http://www.uned.es/dpto-sociologia-I/IZQUIERDO/

David Lee

In some ways, the deliberate foregrounding of practice was prefigured in the theatrical work of Bertolt Brecht, with his famous verfremdungseffekt - distancing techniques. However, these were employed to make stop the audience 'leaving their brains in the cloakroom' - the idea being that if they could see the manufactured nature of theatrical content, then they might also wake up the manufactured, historically and politically determined nature of society.

Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, no-one working with the foregrounding devices of reality television is doing so with the political intent of a neo-Brechtian! Of course, I may be wrong...

But isn't reality tv actually far more about the political economic structures of mainstream television. With deregulation, the drive for audiences, the explosion of channels, and the drastic reduction in training within television production, reality tv is the archetypal contemporary television form. It militates against risk through repetition. It avoids intellectual discourse, of a particular public service type. It builds audiences over a number of series. Or is that too deterministic?

Will Davies

David - you know the TV industry far better than me, so I'm sure you're right. Channel 4 in particular will hide behind the argument that they face a financial crisis in the next couple of years, and Big Brother et al is their last best hope. But what I'm trying to argue is that manipulation of 'reality' is what Reality TV does and how it entertains. If it didn't manipulate 'reality', it would either be fiction, or it would be reality, which is actually quite dull.

David Lee

Will - think you might enjoy Nick Couldry's excellent article on reality tv, which relates the rise of reality tv with the common-sense ideological values of neoliberalism; in particular the contradiction between the economic and the social/collective. Amongst other things, Couldry argues that becuase of the colonisation of non-work time by capital, which resolves itself through the need for emotional labour, and the investment of the 'soul' in the workplace, reality tv is inextricably linked to rituals of performance that are expected of us in the contemporary workplace.

http://lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/pdf/HERMES_REALITY_TV_ARTICLE.pdf

David Lee

http://lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/pdf/HERMES_REALITY_TV_ARTICLE.pdf

David Lee

hmm sorry about that ... the full link doesn't seem to want to show up. the article is called 'reality, or the secret theatre of neoliberalism' and is on the lse website for free download as a pdf.

Will Davies

It's fine. If you double click on the link and click 'copy', it picks up all of it, it just can't fit all of it in the text window available in the blog.

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