Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Power of Interactivity: To what extent does it rule reality TV?

Any audience wants to be as much a part of the show they are watching as possible. Because of this, shows respond by incorporating the audience to the best of its ability. This concept of interactivity is one that has become extremely prevalent in reality television. I thought one of the best examples given, was the fact that more people voted on who should win American Idol in 2000 than the presidential election. This shows the extent to which people feel compelled to involve themselves with the shows they love. Producers have catered to this idea, and given much of the power they possess, to the audiences they attract. The Grindstaff article state, “To consider everyone a potential producer is to minimize both the power and responsibility traditional production staff exercise in the reality arena (74).” While this is true, it also seems to be an adaptation of big time producers, to stay updated with the way their audiences are being drawn into their shows. People want to have the voting power of a show, people want to be have the possibility of being brought onto a show, and everyone wants to have their own say for what the show does.

Reality television has embraced this idea in several ways. With the concept of voting on a show, the audience see’s themselves as the deciding factor for who or what should win. These contests bring about a loyalty to the show, which keeps them coming back. Because of this, more and more shows are incorporating this aspect into the framework of the show itself. Another example is open casting calls. This is shown by shows like the Last Comic Standing and Step it Up and Dance. These shows travel the country to find new contestants, and bring these people onto the show to star and potentially create a future for him or her self. It allows the audience to think, “Can I be the next big thing?” With the hope of getting to participate in the show, and or to watch the success of an ordinary Joe, keeps people hopeful and involved. Interactivity then becomes the driving force behind how the production of “new” shows will be. As more and more reality television fills our screens, there will be more and more interactivity to follow. People like this, people want this, and big time networks know it! As long as there are shows to which people can potentially see themselves succeeding, or watch ordinary people like themselves make a name, networks will continue to structure show after show with this idea in mind…

3 Questions:

1) To what extent does this idea of interactivity and audience participation affect the overall outlook of a network when designing new and successful shows?

2) In terms of reality television, what do you see in the next ten years? Will there be shows that reflect the old, successful reality TV that we know as a generation, or do you see a new framework that truly has potential?

3) How did you get involved with what you do, and what advice would you give to someone looking into the media industry for a potential career?

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