In case TOWIE turns your stomach….you could choose to talk about MiC instead. Just a posher version of TOWIE – that’s all.
Above is a really good blog post on hypereality and Made in Chelsea.
Made in Chelsea paints a very vivid picture of the rich and elite in London. From an outsider looking in, it suggests to a large extent that all ‘English’ people live this way. I have friends from different countries who have said to me ‘Is that what England is like?’ (referring to the show) …well quite simply no. London is very diverse and has many different cultures, yet Made in Chelsea does not have one ethnic person in the show. Whilst it is true that Chelsea is very elite, not everyone who lives there is white (believe it or not). Yet the programme tells another story.
This show definitely blurs the distinction between fiction and documentary and soap opera. The cast are exposed by producers in a certain way to show them off as distinct characters that the audience can relate to for entertainment purposes. Spencer is shown as the ‘villain’ of the show, Jamie, Proudlock and Francis are shown as the ‘laddish’ bachelors and the girls Lucy, Rosie and Louise etc. are the upper class women, who are obsessed with material possessions and their taste in fashion is nothing less than a six figure digit. The whole aesthetic of the programme is to exude wealth, high society members and their lavish lifestyles, which is somewhat a fantasy for many of the viewers.
Consumer Culture – features all the right brands: Harrods, Dorchester Hotel, Sloane Square etc. The programme is even sponsored by Rimmel – Get the London Look. You too could be this gorgeous!
Hegemony – capitalist, bourgeois, conservative view on life. Work hard and you too could be like this. The fact that most of the characters are wealthy by inheritance and none of them seem to do a day’s work between them is irrelevant. Capitalism pays off and MiC is evidence of this (the fact that it is completely constructed and contrived should not deter you from aspiring to this lifestyle). This is quite a good powerpoint on examples of ‘hegemony’ in action – it is very USA based but you will get the idea of how the messages of what is right, expected and wrong are constantly reinforced from ‘up above’ or ‘elsewhere’ although there are some steps to counteract this mindset, as you will see at the end of the presentation.
Hypereality – the blurring between the real people and their on screen characters is blurred. This is endorsed by them tweeting when it is unclear as to whether they are ‘in character’ or as themselves. We talk about them as though they are real.
Simulacra – the original becomes irrelevant. We believe the simulated world. This is how it is. We value the simulated world more than we do the ‘real’ world.
Watch any of the other ‘scripted reality’ TV shows – The Real Housewives series, Geordie Shore, The Only Way is Essex and you will see exactly the same elements that indicate they are part of this type of postmodern phenomena.
The other TV shows – so called ‘reality fly on the wall’ shows – that are less scripted i.e. KUWTK, Dance Moms, Teen Mom are still no less constructed. See an extract below from an article that outlines how the new series of Teen Mom will now be produced without the 4th wall.
Are you happy this season breaks the fourth wall and shows production?
Maci: I love it. Before, such a huge part of our life was hidden and it was hard to be 100 percent real because we’re pretending we’re not on TV or that we don’t have a million followers on Twitter. Also, there are many situations in the past when we’re filming a scene and we’re aggravated and all of our anger is escalated because there are people in your house, audio, lights, cameras and then you have a kid running around who can’t get up because [production] doesn’t want to mess up the scene, so on top of the aggravation from what’s really going on, you have all this other sh–. It’ll really show how overwhelming being on a TV show is.
This is evidence that the TV show was completely constructed – think about it – the baby is crying but the camera crew is not ready so you can’t pick up the baby to comfort it. How ‘managed’ ‘unreal’ the footage must have been.
These shows created a ‘preferred reality’ as it has more drama, tension and clashes. When Big Brother started out, they made the fatal mistake of not choosing characters that were interesting enough to sustain an audience. Now, they deliberately choose participants who will create drama and increase viewing figures.
But what is it about our voyeuristic tendencies? Even in Roman times we loved seeing people fight to the death in the arena, Have we really not come that far from that kind of barbarity? Think of all the ‘pranked’ videos you watch online – enjoying laughing at people’s misfortune.
Perhaps we have not evolved as far as we had hoped in terms of being civilised. It makes an uncomfortable thought.