Panel 02: Media and the Constructed Self

Abstract Title

Presenting the Real Self or Faking Different Personalities: A Survey of Celebrity Reality Shows in China

Presenter Information

Xinxin JiangFollow

Start Date

13-2-2015 1:30 PM

End Date

13-2-2015 2:50 PM

Abstract

Reality TV shows became popular in China since 2005 when Super Girl, a singing competition for female contestants attracting more than 2.5 billion people to watch the show. After this huge hit, reality show, as a newly-emerged television programming genre, experienced both popularity and criticism in China. Ordinary people, rather than professionally trained actors are provided with opportunities to show their talent as well as their personality on the way to achieve the final success. In the following years, similar contests flourished nationwide but gradually lost its audiences. However, the recent two years witnessed an explosive popularity of reality TV shows due to the appearance of various subgenres on the one hand, and on the other hand, celebrities become actively involved in these programs. The focus of reality shows somehow flows from unknown cast to renowned celebrities. By analyzing several reality shows between 2012 and 2014 in China, this paper examines how the engagement of celebrities in various shows helps attract attention of viewers and promote the popularity of such programs. By drawing on the sociological concept of “emotion work”, this paper argues that celebrities in reality shows are attempting to show their affection either by presenting the real self or by faking different personalities in order to build a relationship of trust with their fans and win larger support of audiences. This paper also argues that celebrities are more favored than ordinary people by reality show producers in China because their engagement will bring higher audience rating and thereby more profit.

Key Words: Reality TV shows; celebrity; emotion work

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Feb 13th, 1:30 PM Feb 13th, 2:50 PM

Presenting the Real Self or Faking Different Personalities: A Survey of Celebrity Reality Shows in China

Reality TV shows became popular in China since 2005 when Super Girl, a singing competition for female contestants attracting more than 2.5 billion people to watch the show. After this huge hit, reality show, as a newly-emerged television programming genre, experienced both popularity and criticism in China. Ordinary people, rather than professionally trained actors are provided with opportunities to show their talent as well as their personality on the way to achieve the final success. In the following years, similar contests flourished nationwide but gradually lost its audiences. However, the recent two years witnessed an explosive popularity of reality TV shows due to the appearance of various subgenres on the one hand, and on the other hand, celebrities become actively involved in these programs. The focus of reality shows somehow flows from unknown cast to renowned celebrities. By analyzing several reality shows between 2012 and 2014 in China, this paper examines how the engagement of celebrities in various shows helps attract attention of viewers and promote the popularity of such programs. By drawing on the sociological concept of “emotion work”, this paper argues that celebrities in reality shows are attempting to show their affection either by presenting the real self or by faking different personalities in order to build a relationship of trust with their fans and win larger support of audiences. This paper also argues that celebrities are more favored than ordinary people by reality show producers in China because their engagement will bring higher audience rating and thereby more profit.

Key Words: Reality TV shows; celebrity; emotion work