P1. Why Do We Watch Reality? (a proposal)

There are no doubts that reality shows have found their way into the spotlight during the past decade. The revolution of smartphones started a new age in communications with creating the opportunity for everyone to be a part of the news and media flow on the internet. This also revolutionized reality TV by elevating the way the audience could interact with its content and participants. Despite the negative concerns the genre has raised over the years, it has successfully become one of the Australian audiences’ favorite genres. I would like to propose research that explores answers to the question: Why do we watch reality TV?

Reality Tv began in the late 1940s with programs like Queen for the Day (1945-1964, Gameshow) and Allen Funt’s Candid Camera (1948-2014, Hidden camera reality television series). This was the beginning of the area where non-celebrities appear on Television, unscripted. Since then the popularity of the genre has only increased. This is while research done by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in 2006 found that more than half of the participants agreed with the opinion that: Reality TV programs exploit their participants. Moreover,  46% believed reality shows encourage inappropriate viewpoints on women. Regardless, reality TV shows popularity continued to grow. According to research done by Roy Morgan in 2018, reality TV was the second most-watched genre after news by Australians, with an Audience of 41%.

The growing popularity of the reality genre in 2018 despite the concerns about the genre’s programming– which was unveiled by ACMA in 2005– raises many question marks. I find this interesting as the result of becoming aware of my own behavioral patterns since 2016 when I was introduced to reality TV buy coming across The Kardashians on social media. In 2019, I find myself critical of the genre for the same reasons as of the 2005 ACMA research. However, watching the first and last episodes of The Bachelor/Bachelorette Australia on TV is a guilty pleasure of mine. Furthermore, I have discovered similar behavioral patterns amongst friends.

 To explore the reason why we watch reality TV, It is important to explore the behavioral patterns of the audience of the genre. The uses and gratifications theory focuses on the audiences and explores how and why THEY choose and interact with the media. Therefore, this research will use the basic assumptions of this theory to organize the research method and content.

In my next post, I will explain the uses and gratifications theory further and discuss why it is relevant to this research. Then I will explain how I am going to go about this research and my chosen method.


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