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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Praise indeed

A reality TV anthology I contributed to a while back is helping one Portugese journalist to explain the mystery of Big Brother (blogged here). Blogger Rogério Santos has this to say of my editor: "Cummings vai mais longe, quase a atingir o sarcasmo," which sounds about right. Mr. Santos is also unimpressed with the claims made by producers Endemol, among others, that voting in reality shows is inherently democratic. Rather unkindly, given the generally ropey character of Google translations, I reproduce an English language version of review below:

It is considered, since that reality exists show Big Brother (BB), that this espelha the television of the Real. However, already very before this perception was had. The television always launched artificial formats: games, programs of notice from studios, sitcoms [situation comedies], sets of documents. What it is the television of the Real?

For Dolan Cummings (2002: xii), the television of the Real encloses formats as the Survivor , where the participants must survive in a desert island, or the Chained ones , where young the young of the opposing sex was on with chains. Where the basic element was the people presence anónima. Added of not normal situations, concurring for a prémio and involving, with frequency, the participation of the hearing. Curious that - writes down Cummings the same, in text that I follow here - the producers consider that the programs have value as documentary or same anthropology. Proper I almost it concludes this, when vi some programs of the program of the SIC Masterplan , to be able to support a text that I wrote on that television channel ("Ten years of the history of the SIC (1992-2002)", Astroroof , nº 6, November of 2002). E generally gives the name of television of the Real to the entertainment programs.

Certainly that arquétipo of this new notion of television of the Real is the BB, where a group of competitors, isolated in a house watched for television chambers the 24 hours per day, is encouraged to interact in permanent way. Every week, the competitors are called to classify its colleagues, while the hearing votes with sight to the exit of one of them. Part of the joy of the BB is the transformation of anónimos in stars not due to a special talent but because known people become, case of our Zé Maria. More of the one than this: the luck of the competitors is not in the hands of them but in the decision of the simple people and anónimas, the hearing. Therefore, if it says that the BB is democratic, and the canal where it passes the program is popular.

Cummings goes more far, almost to reach the sarcasm. For it, in necessary moment where the participation in the parliamentary elections seems to be in decline - with what this represents for the public space -, thousands of people participate in the telefónicas votings. To this if it calls going down to the hells on the part of the television. To the paleo-television , that wanted to entertain and to instruct - the neo-television occurs - where dominates denominating the minor common: sex, celebrity and voyeurístico sensationalism .
Reading : Dolan Cummings, Bernard Clark, Victoria Mapplebeck, Christopher Dunkley and Graham Barnfield (2002). Reality TV: how real is real? London: Hodder & Stoughton"
To buy the book click here.
Trivia point: 18 months or so ago Delirium Films offered me the lead in the movie short Just Dessert (DFL11) , which got through to the last 10 of the Nokia Shorts competition. Watching the excellent
Shaun of the Dead DVD in my sickbed tonight I saw that Nick Ewans, who did get the role of Slightly Mean Looking Man in Just Dessert, was excelling as Pyjama Zombie. To think it could have been me... ;)


Blogger Rogério Santos said...

God, I don't recognize my text in the Google translation.
What I intended to do in August with that message in my weblog was to produce some discussion about the excelent book wrote by Mr. Cummings and you and all of the contributors.
Here in Portugal there are several newspapers and magazines which deeply covers the stories about television reality-shows. I think the same is going on in the UK and in other countries.
Nowadays there is another reality-show, the Quinta das celebridades (Celebrities'farm), with the same Endemol format, that has the highest audiences in the Portuguese popular television.
My point of view is that we must study this kind of phenomena for understanding the ongoing people's behaviours.

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