So, I watched a bunch of episodes of lonelygirl15 last night, in an effort to better understand the conversation Cisco and I have been having about reality television.
If you, like me, are one of the two people on the planet who didn’t already know about this, the series was a Youtube video blog which pretended to be “real” but was actually a cast of actors following a script. It used no improvisation. The discovery of the scripted nature of the series did nothing to dampen its popularity – although a bunch of people were offended, or pretended to be.
Part of the popularity, and the appeal, must have come from the idea of the hoax – like with War Of The Worlds. I think there’s an interesting article in this somewhere about the spectrum of (sus)pension of (dis)belief:
1) entertainment which pretends to be completely unscripted, even though it is completely scripted, and which actually wants to convince people that it isn’t (lonelygirl15, War of the Worlds, Blair Witch)
2) entertainment which pretends to be scripted, even though it’s not. (Improv comedy.)
3) entertainment which is proudly scripted (Shakespeare, Shaw, things explicitly stylized)
4) entertainment which is proudly UNscripted (does anything really fall into this category? The nature of recording something for other people’s consumption implies some kind of forethought – even just turning on the camera means you’re going to think about it…I suppose hidden camera series do. Punk’d. Or wildlife shows where the animals really don’t know they’re being filmed. )
5) And then, here’s the issue: (that Cisco and I were debating) things like Survivor, Kid Nation, etc., entertainment which straddles these categories, which finds itself somewhere between 1 and 4.
I have a lot more thinking to do about this. But the thinking isn’t ethical, although I find myself resorting to ethics sometimes to explain why I don’t like Category 5. I think that in order to be in accordance with the train of thought I can actually defend, I have to explain the problem with Category 5 on purely formal grounds.
Of course, my argument about form is, and always has been, that all forms are valid and that the only way to argue against anything is formally.
Meredith just walked in and we are brainstorming on “reality theater.” More to come.