Captive Audience: On Love and Reality TV

By Bradley Babendir | Washington Post

No genre endures more disparagement than reality television. Detractors claim it’s empty, stupid, even corrosive to society. This point of view is so pervasive that Lucas Mann begins “Captive Audience,” his new book about reality television, with a confession: “The genre means a lot to us, to me. I’ve never expressed that sentiment with even a gesture toward sincerity, because it’s embarrassing. But I think I mean it. Sincerely. At least for now I do.”

Despite this conditional admission, “Captive Audience” is a multifaceted defense, part scholarship, part memoir. Mann mobilizes the work of critics such as Roland Barthes to add academic rigor to his project, and he interviews TV editors and producers. Whether you adore or abhor reality television, you’ll come away from “Captive Audience” with a rich sense of what it is, how it is made and what it means.

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Among the most interesting findings revealed by the experts is that for fans of reality TV, “neither voyeurism nor fantasy were chief motivations. … The main sensation was that of time passing imperceptibly, and the genre was most popular among those lacking in social interaction, hoping to find some background companionship as the time passed.” Mann follows up this research with anecdotal confirmation from his own experience. When he’s alone, reality television is there with him.

Captive Audience: On Love and Reality TV VintageMore important, it is also there when Mann is not alone. The beating heart of his book is an examination of reality TV’s role in Mann’s relationship with his wife. It is their shared obsession, and he recounts conversations, arguments and quiet moments that are born from …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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