In this paper, I examine the Mark Burnett-produced Reality Television competition series “Survivor” as it relates to Ien Ang’s theory of the “ideology of mass culture” and Stuart Hall’s theory of “encoding/decoding” meaning in televisual texts. In fictional television programs, the producers begin by constructing a script. In Reality Television, the creative process begins from an entirely different point. The producers build a skeleton of what the program will be, but there is an inherent element of chance because of the documentary approach to the filming. It is my assertion that through the construction of this televisual text through the element of unpredictability, this particular genre exists in a realm that cannot be categorized with Ang’s classification of “good” or “bad” mass culture. The paper includes an analysis of various moments from the program’s seventh installment, “Survivor: Pearl Islands/Panama” (2000) as well as interviews with fans, skeptics, and television crew for a comprehensive analysis of the program, its popularity, and its place within a larger discussion of popular media and culture.
|Keywords:||Media, Television, Reality TV, Mass Culture, Ideology, Encoding, Decoding, Field Research, Ethnography, Audience Studies, Viewership|
Student, Media Studies PhD Program, Cultural Studies Department, Claremont Graduate University, Los Angeles, California, USA
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