Monday, September 12, 2016

Sincerity, authenticity and broadcast sociability

At the annual Ross Priory Broadcast Talk Seminar Group (held this year at the Hellenic Army Academy, Athens, Greece) Dr Angela Smith gave a paper on the rise of 'dating shows' on television.  She explored the ways in the conventions of observational documentary have been adapted to engage audiences in a more sympathetic reviewing of participants through her discussion of Channel 4's First Dates.  This show employs a 'diary room' convention from reality TV formats, whilst also engaging in a minimal use of voice-over and absence of the conventional host of such shows.  In this way, Angela argues, we are encouraged to think of the participants as being more authentic and sincere, whilst the hidden formal production markers ensure that there is a perception of a partly mediated, independent reality.  In this way, the audience are not invited to laugh at people in the way the game show format of dating shows encourage, but instead we empathise with them. 

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