Chapter 3, Video Dreams: Television, Music, And Cultural Forms

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Chapter three in the book, "Signs of Life" deals with television, music, and cultural forms. The chapter analyses shows and music in order to show where it fits within the cultural studies. Shows ranging from animation to reality are analyzed and categorized as well as music. Some of these shows and lyric depict women as whores or uncaring wives and mothers. Not all of the shows or lyric are easy to analyze, as some need to be carefully analyzed to reveal their true standings on things. The articles which are most helpful are those that dealt with real people, such as the reality TV articles. Articles that dealt with sitcoms and animation are not as useful as the reality TV ones. 

The article "A Moral Never-Never Land: Identifying with Tony Soprano" by James Harold is not useful to me because the show that I am writing about is a reality show. However, in this article Harold argues against Plato's and Tolstoy's criticism of art being "dangerous." (4) Harold argues that Plato and Tolstoy theory of art are to "simplistic." (4) He used the hit show The Sopranos as an example to illustrate the complexity of art.

Harold argues that we identify with a character to an extent; we can depict fiction from reality. Tony, from The Sopranos, might me a character whom we sympathize with on TV; however, we wouldn't in the real world. Another article that will not be of much use to me is "The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony, and the Meaning of Life" by Carl Matheson. This article deals with animation and humor. In the show The Simpsons humor is mainly a source of cruelty. Matheson explains that the show does not favor family values despite what people may think. The reason why The Simpsons does not favor family is because whenever moral issues and closure are present cruel humor is present as well. Also compared to comedies shown fifty or forty years ago The Simpsons, unlike previous comedies, uses cruel humor. 

"Reality TV Meets Plastic Surgery: An Ugly Shame" by Anita Creamer is an article that I can use towards writing my paper. Creamer analyses reality TV shows that feature plastic surgery as entertainment. Shows such as I Want a Famous Face and Swan present "ugly" people who feel they need cosmetic surgery in order to better themselves. (2) Creamer says that "insecure people make bad decisions about their lives," because people feel that they need to change their appearance in order to be accepted by others.(2) Americans have come to the conclusion that remaking our faces and bodies instead of our lives could better us. However, like Creamer shows us this could backfire on us like Sha's body makeover backfired on her. 

Another article that can come of some use to me is "The Osbournes: Genre, Reality TV, and the Domestication of Rock ‘n' Roll" by Rick Pieto and Kelly Otter. Rick Pieto and Kelly Otter argue about what specific genre The Osbournes belongs to. They both mention and defend different genres in which this TV show could be categorized under depending on how you analyze it. Their discussions about The Osbournes show that reality TV cannot only be categorized under one specific ogenre but many.

Reality TV is a carefully manipulated show in which people are constantly under surveillance like The Osbournes. (7) These people are put into situations in which they have no choice but to act foolish, incoherent or perhaps even irresponsible. (6) In The Osbournes the family members put their personal lives out in the open for the public to see, you would not see this in reality. People do not want their personal feelings and experiences out in the open for everyone to judge and comment on, so they keep it with in their family. 

An article that can potentially be of help is "The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Talk-Show Furor" by Steven D. Stark. This article focuses on talk shows and the topics they encounter. Shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Ricky Lake Show that "include the real have-nots" and show the struggles they went through in life. (10) Having an "average Joe" on shows that audiences can relate to is what provides more viewers.

(9) In the article "Voting Democracy off the Island : Reality TV and the Republican Ethos" by France Prose we see how having regular people, you would see at the mall or at a park, in a show gives audiences a reason to watch it. Although at times the reason these people are placed in these shows is so that they can be made fun of. Shows that criticize people are what audiences want so that they can feel better about themselves. 

Reality TV shows sometimes discriminate towards specific genders and or ethnicities this is the reason why the next to articles can be of used in my paper. Susan Douglas author of "Signs of Intelligent Life on TV" criticizes shows that provide women characters with major roles yet they discriminate against them. Shows such as ER and NYPD that appear to defy gender stereotypes, however, they still have bias against women especially against strong professional women.

They make out the women to be "bitches" who are either of low income and irresponsible with their children; or are high paying professionals that do not have families because they are to preoccupied with their profession. (3) Television is not the only place we see bias against women but in music as well. Andre Mayer explains in his "The New Sexual Stone Age" article that pop culture is sending women back to the beginning of the modern women's movement. Through their lyrics artist such as Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit are portraying women as "sexual ornaments." In comparison to the small portions of female assertiveness lyric and roles seen and heard the bias of women is still overpowering.

In the article "How Reality TV Fakes It" James Poniewozik gives us insight of what really happens in reality TV shows. It appears that reality TV shows are not scripted but carefully edited to "deliver drama." (8) Someone can say something that can easily be edited to the likings of the producer. The producer is only interested in material that will attract audiences and make the most money, so if needed he will manipulate the footage to his pleasing. He could also choose to withhold information and later reveal it in order to cause a bigger commotion within the audience. This article shows how reality TV is anything but real, with the cleaver editing and manipulation; you might as well be watching a scripted show.

Overall there are about four articles that can potentially be of some use in my next paper, and two that I will be using through my next paper. The articles that had real people that were not under a script or animation are the articles that are of most use. The way that these articles were analyzed showed me what to look for in the show that I will be analyzing.

The chapter as a whole made some strong points referring to reality TV and how they are put in circumstances that make them act a certain way. Also not all shows are what they may appear, they maybe stereotyping certain genders or ethnicities without the audience knowing. The main thing is to analyze shows past the surface because they have a deeper representation than you may think.

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