Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


The Makeover – What Do Reality TV Audiences Really Think?

Media Release
The University of Auckland
21 March 2013

The Makeover – What Do Reality Television Audiences Really Think?

A new book on makeover reality television reveals that audiences are fully aware of the manipulation of candidates and viewers, and despite cynicism about the instruction and consumer plugs on the shows, remain committed to the possibilities of self-improvement.

Katherine Sender, Professor in Film TV and Media Studies at The University of Auckland, has written the first book to consider the rapid rise of makeover reality television shows from an audience perspective.

In writing The Makeover, Professor Sender conducted an audience research project on four US makeover shows: The Biggest Loser, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Starting Over, and What Not to Wear, talking with people throughout America to find out how they responded to these shows, and makeover television in general.

“Audiences are extremely savvy when it comes to reality television. They know that producers cast candidates who will perform for the cameras, and that shows are scripted to some extent, and certainly edited, for maximum drama.

“However, they also remain highly invested in the authenticity of the people they see on screen, and the feelings and experiences that go into their personal transformation. Even when they know a situation is manipulated, they still invest in the ‘reality’ of the candidates’ struggles and emotion,” says Professor Sender.

Professor Sender’s findings revealed many regular viewers were highly critical of the instruction offered in the shows, believing it unrealistic to the demands of everyday life: “The Biggest Loser advocated too extreme weight loss”, or “the clothes purchased on What Not to Wear were too expensive for ordinary people” were common complaints. Some women talked about using Queer Eye not for consumer advice, but to browbeat their husbands and sons to dress better and be more accepting of gay people.

Regular viewers tended to see shaming of wayward candidates as a good thing saying that some people need to be shown their faults in front of millions of viewers in order to be motivated to change. However they were highly critical when they thought the shows’ producers were humiliating candidates to boost audience ratings and make money, such as getting overweight people to run and jump, or showing up a candidate whose clothes demonstrated how poor he/she was.

“We are apparently less likely to enjoy laughing and pointing at ordinary people on screen than popular critics give us credit for,” says Professor Sender.

Her research included over 1800 survey responses from people who watched at least one of the four shows, interviews with regular viewers, and comparison interviews with people who hadn’t watched any of the shows. These were completed alongside textual analysis of all available seasons of the shows, and analysis of makeover television press coverage.

Professor Sender is author of the book Business, Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market (2004) and coeditor of The Politics of Reality TV: Global Perspectives (2011)

For more information, please visit www.nyupress.org or www.amazon.com

Professor Katherine Sender Biography
Professor Sender has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Sussex, UK, and a master’s and PhD in communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA (graduating in 2001). She spent two years teaching media production and theory at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, USA, and then moved to the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. She joined the Department of Film, Television, and Media Studies at The University of Auckland in January 2012.

Her new book, The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences, was published by New York University Press in October 2012. Connected with this research, she is currently editing a new documentary: Brand New You: Makeover Television and the American Dream, to be distributed by the Media Education Foundation. She continues to explore the impact of convergence culture on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender representations, including a new chapter for a media anthology about transgender representations in reality formats. She is also gathering data for a cross-cultural study of museums that include explicitly sexual content.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Werewolf: Katniss Joins The News Team

From the outset, the Hunger Games series has dwelt obsessively on the ways that media images infiltrate our public and personal lives... From that grim starting point, Mockingjay Part One takes the process a few stages further. There is very little of the film that does not involve the characters (a) being on screens (b) making propaganda footage to be screened and (c) reacting to what other characters have been doing on screens. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Ko Witi Te Kaituhituhi

Witi Ihimaera, the distinguished Māori author and the first Māori to publish a book of short stories and a novel, has adopted a new genre with his latest book. But despite its subtitle, this book is a great deal more than a memoir of childhood. More>>

Werewolf: Rescuing Paul Robeson

Would it be any harder these days, for the US government to destroy the career of a famous American entertainer and disappear them from history – purely because of their political beliefs? You would hope so. In 1940, Paul Robeson – a gifted black athlete, singer, film star, Shakespearean actor and orator – was one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. More>>

ALSO:

"Not A Competition... A Quest": Chapman Tripp Theatre Award Winners

Big winners on the night were Equivocation (Promising Newcomer, Best Costume, Best Director and Production of the Year), Kiss the Fish (Best Music Composition, Outstanding New NZ Play and Best Supporting Actress), and Watch (Best Set, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Performance). More>>

ALSO:

Film Awards: The Dark Horse Scores Big

An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach Genesis Potini, made all the right moves to take out top honours along with five other awards at the Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards - nicknamed The Moas. More>>

ALSO:

Theatre: Ralph McCubbin Howell Wins 2014 Bruce Mason Award

The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Ralph McCubbin Howell at the Playmarket Accolades in Wellington on 23 November 2014. More>>

ALSO:

One Good Tern: Fairy Tern Crowned NZ Seabird Of The Year

The fairy tern and the Fiji petrel traded the lead in the poll several times. But a late surge saw it come out on top with 1882 votes. The Fiji petrel won 1801 votes, and 563 people voted for the little blue penguin. More>>

Music Awards: Lorde Reigns Supreme

Following a hugely successful year locally and internationally, Lorde has done it again taking out no less than six Tuis at the 49th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news