My colleague wrote a thoughtful comparison of; Roland Barthes’ analysis of Professional Wrestling, and her observations of Reality Television.
Her commentary on the topic is so thought provoking because it stands in stark contrast to the typical argument that “reality television is lowbrow because it isn’t challenging” best embodied by one of my favorite essays on the subject: Dance Moms and the broken promise of reality television.
My colleague’s commentary on the meta-conversation that take place on Twitter by viewers is also an engaging position. As someone who works in the business I enjoy reading audience commentary. Especially when they pickup on something that may not have been intentional in the first place.
Recently, I had cause to revisit Roland Barthes’ 1957 book of essays, Mythologies, a study of signifiers and the underlying ideology that such signifiers refer to; and despite the passage of time, his approach still applies today. In his first essay, “The World of Wrestling,” Barthes says that wrestling is not a sport but a spectacle and that “[t]he public is completely uninterested in knowing whether the contest is rigged or not.” Not only is that still true of wrestling, but also Reality TV. Regardless of articleafterarticle “revealing” that Reality isn’t – well – real, audiences just keep watching. In fact, it is quite possible to extend Barthes’ wrestling analysis even further in terms of Reality TV and, in light of the fact that I’m presently unemployed, that is precisely what I intend to do in this piece – specifically by applying Barthes analysis to VH1’s new…
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