…draws lines between our obsession with a zombie apocalypse, the rise of reality TV and the reasons why Janie would rather send pictures of herself at a party to friends than talk to her friends at the party…“Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now—and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.”
…the Discovery Channel’s reality show “American Guns” got down to business as usual Wednesday night. While Rich Wyatt yelled, “Take ‘em out, Paige,” his daughter, Paige (above), and wife, Renee, used handguns to mow down a set of human-shaped targets in a Colorado field. The episode…was the show’s first new installment since the movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., last week that left 12 people dead…
The show, which will be shown on Telemundo.com, will feature actors from Spanish-language telenovelas and English-language reality shows in what the network is calling its “first-ever bilingual branded entertainment series.” Mia, the lead character’s name, is also a play on words for the type of female viewer the show is intended to attract—the Modern Independent Achiever. “The MIA essentially is the new Latina…she’s career-driven, she’s very proud, she’s an achiever.”
art: Jacqueline Márquez, who portrays “Mia.”
It’s tempting to laugh all this off as harmless fluff, but the impact is real. Dating shows in particular portray women as bitchy, catty, and desperate. These shows also tend to exclude intellectual, professionally accomplished women…According to a recent Girl Scouts survey of 1,100 girls, young women who regularly watch reality TV are more likely than non-viewers to “accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying” in their lives. They’re also…more likely to believe that “It’s in girls’ nature to be catty and competitive with one another,” that “It’s hard for me to trust other girls…”
Style Network announced that they are renewing their smash hit reality show “Tia & Tamera” for another season. The series, starring twin TV stars Tia Mowry and Tamera Mowry, which premiered last month (August), has already become, according to the network, “the highest-rated series ever across all key demos” for Style.
What’s most outrageous, however, aren’t the celebrations on display: It’s the show’s voyeuristic, stereotypical, judgmental, and shallow depiction of one of the world’s most misunderstood and, at times, abused minorities. “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” (a terrible, degrading title to begin with) claims to offer one-of-a-kind insight into a unique community, but it manages to achieve the opposite. Viewers are instead offered an overly simplistic view of the cultures of Travellers and Roma—two distinct groups, though the show happily conflates them into one category—with scarcely any historical or political context about their place in the United Kingdom and Europe more broadly.
Sarah Palin is telegenic–and she clearly requites the camera’s love a thousand-fold. We don’t care; such behavior is no longer unseemly. Far more important than her potential to be the first female president is her potential to be the first reality-show subject to become president. At this point it must be conceded she’s underestimated. Sarah knows something we don’t. Competence and ideology are what the help does. And she appears to be shameless. I wish it were a movie.
“Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity”.. Brenda R. Weber’s strange and thoughtful survey of makeover shows…this category, built around twinned narratives of physical and spiritual transformation, includes…not only “The Swan” and “What Not to Wear” but also “Dog Whisperer,” which tames rowdy pets; “The Biggest Loser,” a weight-loss competition; and “American Idol,” which is, after all, about the transformation of amateurs into pop stars…Weber…takes care to avoid snap judgments. Her approach…reject(s) the idea that cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic interventions are… purely oppressive…The thought of women renovating their wardrobes or their faces inspires in Weber not horror but a tantalizing question: “Why shouldn’t the painful vestiges of class and circumstance that write themselves on the body be not only overwritten but erased altogether?”
…what makes “Deus Ex Machina” one of the best novels about American culture in years is Altschul’s perfect understanding of the syntax and structure of reality TV…It’s darkly funny in parts, but mostly it’s terrifying in its urgency and plausibility, and it’s impossible to look at television the same way after you’ve read it. You’re forced to wonder whether reality TV — whether our country itself — could ever become the nightmare it is in Altschul’s stunning, sad novel: 300 million people, four major networks, no rules.