First aired inCandid Camera is often seen as a prototype of the reality show. Its premise was simple — unsuspecting people were confronted with unusual, funny situations and filmed with hidden cameras.
At first glance it seems a doleful place. But in fact, this is where dreams are made and broken. Inside that reinforced-concrete building, men in black T-shirts and microphone headsets are swarming around like worker bees, ushering a constant stream of shrieking teenage girls to their seats, testing the sound levels and the autocue, ensuring that the audience is primed to clap and scream as loudly as possible once the lights go up.
Because this is where, every weekend, the X Factor goes live.
As the theme music is pumped through the studio speakers, it is as though the entire crowd has been electrified by a giant cattle prod. We leap out of our seats as one, arms waving maniacally in the air as each contestant takes to the stage in a blaze of strobe lighting and sequinned backing dancers.
When the judges deliver their verdicts, we boo as soon as Simon Cowell says anything remotely negative and cheer wildly when Cheryl Cole gives a twinkling, encouraging smile.
We are indiscriminately supportive of all the contestants. We empathise with them in a way we never normally engage with actors or celebrities precisely because they are real and because — at the touch of an interactive red button or the dialling of a phone number — we can have a say in their future.
When Mary Byrne comes on stage, swathed in a black evening gown, we cheer loudly because we do not want her to go back to her checkout till at Tesco. When Rebecca Ferguson takes the floor, all sparkly eye shadow and pretty smile, we clap until our hands sting.
When One Direction performs an upbeat love song in matching suit jackets, those of us who are not teenagers regress shamelessly to our adolescence. If the security guards had allowed us our cigarette lighters, we would be brandishing them now.
At the back of the auditorium, several schoolgirls become breathless with excitement. Each week, hundreds make the pilgrimage to the Fountain Television Studios in Wembley to be part of the live audience, and millions of us tune in at home to watch.
As a result, many of us will spend more time in the virtual company of Mary, Rebecca and One Direction than we do with our real-life friends and family.
And yet despite the fact that more of us seem to be tuning in than ever before, relatively little is known about who watches and why. In fact, the audience has become bigger: Adding all these viewers together comes to The audience has not only expanded in quantity but in social base, too.
Whereas previously, it was always assumed that the X Factor, and shows like it, primarily appealed to teenage girls voting for a new celebrity heartthrob, a major new piece of research seen exclusively by the Observer shows that the programme is increasingly crossing social, class and gender divides.
This year almost everyone seems to be watching: So why are we so engrossed?
After a decade of phone-in rows, vote-rigging accusations and celebrity-hungry wannabes with egos more bloated than their silicon implants, why does the British public remain so in love with reality television? What it creates is an extraordinarily powerful story arc where we get involved in the characters.
We do get swept up in it, wanting to be behind somebody, wanting them to do well.
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If we are already sharing the details of our private lives in Tweets and status updates, are we also becoming more accustomed to the notion of putting our intimate selves on display for the entertainment of others?
The survey found that almost a third of viewers stated that they watched the X Factor and felt "part of a community".
But the Australian academic Dr Bridget Griffen-Foley traces back the popularity of such shows even further — to the emergence of 19th-century periodicals which relied on reader contributions and "invited [them] to feel a sense of connection with the otherwise impersonal structure of the mass-market press".
The historian Dominic Sandbrook, author of State of Emergency: Almost the whole camp would turn out and lap it all up. Beyond that, you go back to the Victorian freak shows. I think reality TV is merely a manifestation of a very, very old craving that we have for imposing narratives [on events].
Part of the attraction is the sense of control the X Factor gives us: The most popular contestants almost always have a backstory of personal triumph over adversity which enables us to feel that we are helping them succeed, that we are giving them a break even if no one else will.
Part of us wants them to be successful and is urging them on.al engagement with the ordinary in popular culture. In , Beck explored entertainment and sports in Why is Reality TV so power-ful? Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly, if we 4— V OLUME 31 () NO. 2 COMMUNICATION RESEARCH TRENDS Factual Entertainment and Reality TV Daniel Beck, Lea C.
Hellmueller, and Nina Aeschbacher. 5 American Idol. Best reality show ever. Best judges to and host. I look forward to watching this every year. So sad it's the last season next year. This T.V. show inspired me . The reason why people are so easily misled by tv evangelists is partly because they seek excitement, but also because they don’t read and understand the Bible.
They fail . The style of TV that most North Americans over 20 years old grew up with may still be hanging on, with popular shows like Lost, Glee and Modern Family doing extremely well for their respective.
Thanks to reality TV stars' love of heavy make-up, defined brows and lip fillers, as well as other cosmetic procedures, they all look so alike they're beginning to morph into clones of each other.
Sterotyped: Women in Reality TV. For instance, America’s Got Talent is a popular show and it is the competetiveness that draws people in. Many people enjoy watching it and it is all family friendly. Bruna Ellington.
0. Instead of pointing pitchforks at reality TV, why don’t we stop watching it. The reason there are so many reality.