Over the last two years I have found myself writing a lot about MTV reality shows, including The City, Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, and The Real World. And a solid chunk of the text in this blog is devoted to The Hills. What the hell is wrong with me?
Rather than trying to end my MTV addiction, I’ve decided instead to try to pinpoint what is so fascinating to me about these programs. And I think what interests me the most is how popular, MTV-produced reality shows address their target teenage audiences. I’m interested in how these programs and their paratexts—including companion websites, message boards, tabloid news stories, and the various pet projects of its celebrity cast members—shape and encourage not only consumer choices, but lifestyle choices as well.
If MTV describes itself as “the world’s premier youth entertainment brand” and “the cultural home of the millennial generation,” then I’m interested in how programs like The Hills, Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, and The Real World work to educate and instruct this Millennial generation about appropriate sex, gender, race, class, and consumer roles. I’d also like to start looking at versions of these programs on other channels, like BET (Baldwin Hills, Harlem Heights) and the UK’s ITV2 (The Only Way Is Essex).
I also want to write about how the aesthetics of these reality programs serves to frame the viewing experience. To that end, I’ve published a piece over at FLOW that examines the visual style of The Hills and Jersey Shore. If you’d like to read it, click here. Otherwise, you should click here.
For those of you who are regular readers of this blog (hi Mom!), you may have noticed that my posting has dropped somewhat over the last few weeks. This is due to the mid-semester crunch as well as some other writing deadlines I had to meet.
One of these deadlines was for the wonderful site Flow TV, “a critical forum on television and media culture published by the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Flow’s mission is to provide a space where the public can discuss the changing landscape of contemporary media.”
If you’d like to read my article on BET’s reality show, Baldwin Hills, it went live today and can be accessed through the link below: