|The costs and benefits of reality TV|
|Written by Kelsey Lutz, Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 21 February 2013 14:38|
Lounging all day, partying all night and getting a paycheck for it. Where can someone sign up for this major?
It should not come as a shock that reality TV is one of the most consumed television genres of college students today.
What 20-year-old doesn’t love a good Sammi versus Ronnie fight now and then? However, in a different perspective, what do our professors here at ISU think about reality TV?
Professor Phil Chidester, who teaches a course called “Mass Communication: Theory and Effects,” shares his opinion of the effects of this television genre on college students.
“I guess I’ve got mixed feelings,” Chidester said. “I think that there are some negative influences there, but I think as reality television encourages us to be more active parts of our media environment, I think that’s a good thing, too.”
So, why do college students watch these shows?
“I think young people are probably still in that phase where they are trying to find themselves to figure out where they fit in,” Chidester said. “I think a lot of college students would watch reality TV purely for the entertainment.”
As far as entertainment in reality television goes, it is true that the sole reason for the genre is to entertain. However, reality in terms of entertainment is much different than the reality of what is happening now in the world.
We get an altered, more pragmatic dose of reality from the news than we do from the shows on MTV.
“I think it’s going to become much more difficult over time to tell
the difference,” he said. “Maybe it’ll change what we actually think of
as being reality, and while I’m intrigued by that, I’m kind of scared of
Dr. John McHale, professor of a communication course called
“Convergent Media Writing,” has had an abundant amount of firsthand
experience with media. While McHale has produced documentaries in his
free time, he has acknowledged the fact that documentaries hold the same
type of appeal as reality TV does.
“We like to see the world through the eyes of others, live
vicariously through their experiences and feel the dramatic situations
they go through,” McHale said.
When it comes to watching reality TV, McHale is not afraid to admit
that he does tune in to the occasional episode of “Top Chef” and “Jersey
“I have watched some reality TV, primarily to keep abreast of what students are consuming. To share their media consumption helps me be a better teacher,” McHale said.
“It has also enabled me to become a
potential writer of such programs,” he added.
McHale is currently the executive producer of a show pilot to what
he hopes to be the next big reality TV show called “Funnier Than
“Funnier Than Famous” has quality comedy, yet also shows the drama
of running a comedy club, more specifically the Laugh Comedy Club
located right here in Bloomington.
“I look forward to the production of the first episode by the ISU
student crew that has taken up this challenge,” McHale said.
“I believe this could be a great reality television program that
makes viewers laugh, but also educates them on the reality of running a
business and the potential problems caused by excessive consumption of
alcohol, or drugs and promiscuity,” McHale added.
From his description of the pilot, it seems as though “Funnier Than Famous” could contain all the features to make it as a quality series in comparison to those right now.