Symbolic Interactionism and its Function in Today's Media: the Case of Reality TV Shows

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Today's mass media, specifically the television medium, is centered on reflecting or mirroring the "reality" of life, offering the public (as audience) programs and glimpses of life as lived by the characters/actors of reality TV shows.The reality TV phenomenon have become the staple genre for most TV programs in the country today, influencing not only American society but other cultures and societies exposed to the TV medium as well.
It is interesting to note that with the advent of reality TV shows, there is an attempt to portray the'extraordinary' out of ordinary life.That is, in order to make reality TV "sell" to the audience, the depiction of life must be out of ordinary, an experience that audiences can relate to because it happens in real life, but extraordinary enough to become interesting.Examples of famous reality TV shows are "Big Brother," "Survivor," "Amazing Race," and "The Apprentice."All these shows have become well-known for their effective portrayal of real-life conflicts, challenges, and difficulties.These programs also reflect the trivial details that commonly occur in real life, such as dealing with conflict as a result of differences in attitude in values among people living in one place ("Big Brother" and "Survivor"), or dealing with conflict in a very competitive manner in a specific setting ("The Apprentice" and "Amazing Race").
The real-life responses and actions of the'actors' of these reality programs are, according to Fotinopoulos (2004), reflections of "emotional turmoil many of us experience" (59).What makes reality TV popular and marketable to the audience is because of its ability to mirror human emotions and actions-that is, emphasis is put more on the programs' ability to deliver similarities between the actors' and audience's feeli…