How TV lies to you.

Reality TV editing/How TV lies to you and TV News

Watch these Charlie Brooker critiques on TV. There may be some soundbites you can use in your writing. He has a fantastic turn of phrase and you can quote him too.


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.

Consider the ways in which even the news media can be described as an example of hyper-reality and blurring the boundaries between a media constructed reality and the real life..

Is it possible that we know far more about the media, celebrity news & popular culture than we did about significant events and people in the ‘real’ world.

It is important to consider news values and understand how some important pieces of news are pushed off the news agenda because they don’t fulfill the editorial agenda and so the news we do consume is highly selected. This selection is often about what will make a popular / entertaining story rather than reporting other bigger world events but ones that are more remote, ‘foreign’ and ones for which they don’t have pictures.

Finally, the news is packaged up into easily understandable narratives, indeed news items have narrative structure, ‘characters’ cast into simple types & roles and there is often highly emotive use of language and symbolic imagery in order to represent the events / people in a particular way.

Here is a really funny and insightful video from TV critic Charlie Brooker, who incidentally wrote one of our key texts Black Mirror. Here he is talking about the formulaic structure of a TV news item and how they are neatly packaged up for consumption.

This is a really up to date news story on how a recent BBC documentary has been uncovered to have constructed its narrative in a wholly unacceptable fashion to create a narrative that wasn’t exactly true.




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