Camera Obscura Themed Issue on Reality TV

1_88.coverCamera Obscura’s latest issue (Volume 30, Number 1, 2015) is a handsome offering on reality TV titled: PROJECT REALITY TV.  The Introduction by the issue’s editors, Lynne Joyrich, Misha Kavka, and Brenda R. Weber, offers a playful preshow to the rest of the issue.

“[Project Reality TV: Preshow Special]…interrogates, while also playing with, some of TV’s forms and conventions, particularly those of the “preshow special” and the interview format. Borrowing from this format, it explores key issues around the appeal of reality television and the reasons for approaching it from a scholarly perspective, particularly that of feminist media studies. This version of the studio Q&A format, honed into a sub-genre by reality TV itself, is designed to elicit not only interest but knowledge—in this case, regarding what we see as some of the most significant questions facing studies of reality television, especially the specific studies dealing with health, housewives, “hot bodies,” and “hoochie mamas” that are included in “Project Reality TV.”  –Abstract of Introduction

In that Introduction  Kavka observes: “This demand to ‘be yourself’ for the camera seems contradictory, and yet it is increasingly naturalized in our media-saturated age. Well before  the spread of social media, selfies, and the Twitterverse, the reality TV camera revealed the mediated subject to be positioned somewhere between personal agency and the public gaze, between the  neoliberal hetoric of choice and the sociocultural norms and expectations that constrain such choices at every turn. In a sense, the study of reality television measures this ‘inbetween.’ No matter how formulaic the format is, no matter how cognizant of the camera the participants are, a reality show is ultimatela negoiation between producers and participants, scripted arcs and ad-libbed lines, social norms and individual resistances—all of which makes for very rich viewing experiences of these texts.” (pp. 2-3)

Lineup of articles:

    Reality Moms, Real Monsters: Transmediated Continuity, Reality Celebrity, and the Female Grotesque / Jennifer Lynn Jones and Brenda R. Weber

    Making Television Live: Mediating Biopolitics in Obesity Programming /  Michael Litwack

    (TV) Junkies in Need of an Intervention: On Addictive Spectatorship and Recovery Television / Hunter Hargraves

    Sex on the Shore: Care and the Ethics of License in Jersey Shore /  Misha Kavka

    They Gon’ Think You Loud Regardless: Ratchetness, Reality Television, and Black Womanhood /  Kristen J. Warner

    “I’m Very Rich, Bitch!”: The Melodramatic Money Shot and the Excess of Racialized Gendered Affect in the Real Housewives Docusoaps / Pier Dominguez

     “Quality” Reality and the Bravo Media Reality Series / Jane Feuer