January 17, 2004

"Big Brother" appears in two headlines in today's NYT.

(No, it isn't my abiding purpose to dog the NYT. It's just the newspaper I get in newspaper form, which I like to see there, in its blue bag, every morning.)

One article, written by Emily Eakin is called "Greeting Big Brother With Open Arms." “Mark Andrejevic, a professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa at Iowa City … influenced by the theories of Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault” has written a book called "Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched."
Reality shows glamorize surveillance, he writes, presenting it "as one of the hip attributes of the contemporary world," "an entree into the world of wealth and celebrity" and even a moral good. … [T]he reality genre appears to fulfill the democratic promise of the emerging interactive economy, turning passive cultural consumers into active ones who can star on shows or vote on their outcomes. …

[But] reality television is essentially a scam: propaganda for a new business model that only pretends to give consumers more control while in fact subjecting them to increasingly sophisticated forms of monitoring and manipulation.
Andrejevic finds his students unreceptive to his theories, theorizing that because they were:
Raised on Web logs, Google, cellphones and instant messaging, they "divulge much more information about themselves on a daily basis than previous generations," he said, and they don't associate the idea of surveillance with a totalitarian Big Brother.
Or maybe they are just tired of hearing about Foucault all the time.
At least in one respect, he added, reality television does conform to real life. "It portrays the reality of contrivance, the way consumers are manipulated," he said. "I look at it with the fascination of somebody watching a car wreck."
"Somebody" watching a car wreck. That’s somebody else presumably. Hey, isn't that a reality show?

1 comment:

Icepick said...

It lost me at Foucault.

Aw, hell, that ain't true. I lost interest before that. Probably around "a professor of communication studies". So why did I keep reading until I got to Foucault? Just habit, I guess.