Wednesday, September 06, 2006
for the record . . .
People on reality tv may be portraying themselves but they have also been edited into characters for a show. As with any other public image they are products of the media, a place where "people" become "media personalities." Individuals are always being defined by external forces that are beyond their control. And those forces shape their sense of themselves to varying degrees. People are always inhabiting -- and resisting -- characters that have been created for them. That is how stereotypes operate. In the media this process is enlarged and exaggerated. Television relies heavily on stereotypes as a kind of shorthand for conveying character to viewers. Audiences respond to these characters, not to what the person is "really" like. We can never know the actual individual if the only way we encounter them is through the media.
That said, the people on reality tv programs have made the conscious choice to participate in this socio-tainment (entertainment in the form of a sociology experiment). They are not hiding from the spotlight. They want to be on television. They want to be famous. They want to be a celebrity. They want to be media personalities. If that character is not an accurate -- or even fair -- depiction then that's just one of the prices they have to pay for their 15 minutes.
And no one is listening to me anyway.