Archive for the ‘ Reality TV ’ Category

TV is Reality

The Japanese have always been infamous for their television shows. But this cartoon using a mashup of electro beats to assimilate a Daft Punk – like song seems to hit the new Reality TV phenomena right on the head.

The illustrations can be interpreted as the influence of mass media over society. While media continues to dominate our world, aspects depicted on the television screen suddenly are copied out in real life. The end result is a postmodernist world; where violence is desensitized, where media is all inter-related, everyone is connected, consumerism makes us greedy and television has a pro-war asthetic.

The cartoon ends in chaos with a telly placed ontop of the rubble. Quite significant, isn’t it?

Reality TV in China

I decided to do my final presentation and paper on reality television in China. Reality T.V. started becoming popular in China, especially the talent shows. My presentation focuses in particular on one of the dating shows, but I found some information about the talent show “Super Girl” that I thought was worthwhile to share. The show is comparable to American Idol with only females. Like American Idol, viewers call in to cast their votes on their favorite singer. There has however been controversy over the show because China is a country where the citizens are not use to voting for anything, which makes the Chinese government nervous.

Here is youtube video that gives an overview of “Super Girl”

Big Brother goes to Arabia

The television show ‘Big Brother’, where contestants are kept under lock inside the same house until public voting chooses a winner, was first launched in the UK on Channel 4 in 2001.

In early 2004, the Arab TV channel MBC surprisingly decided to produce their own version, Al-Ra’is (the Boss), in Bahrain. The Arabic version of the Big Brother reality show program started with a prize of $100,000 for the winner.

Twelve housemates from around the Arab world have been under the constant gaze of television cameras. They include Abdul Hakim from Saudi Arabia, Bashara from Lebanon, an actress from Bahrain, a musician from Iraq and a karate teacher from Kuwait.

Of course, the format and logistics of the show demanded some cross cultural modifications so the producers decided to make some changes to the house in order to reflect Arabic customs. For the first time there are segregated sleeping quarters for the male and female contestants. Also, a prayer room has been added, as well as a separate women’s lounge with a mixed-sex communal area. Other than these accommodations, the rules follow the international format of the show.

But these modifications to reflect Arabic customs did not go far enough for some protesters. The program, aired across the Arab world by MBC, raised concerns despite efforts to take into account Muslim sensitivities. After only two airings, MBC decided to cancel the show because of intense media criticism and charges of indecency accompanied by protests on the streets of Bahrain.

What MBC producers failed to see was the cross cultural implications of Al-Ra’is. In fact, targeting an audience consisting of mainly Muslims, Al-Ra’is failed to read the cross cultural signs. The close quarter interaction between men and women was culturally unacceptable to the majority of viewers. Protesters in the conservative Gulf Arab state had said showing unmarried people living together offended Islam.

 “It is normal for males and females to mix, but not to put them together in the same house for a long time,” said 21-year-old student Maryam al-Sayrafi.

 Hundreds of Islamists protested in Bahrain chanting “Stop Sin Brother! No to indecency!”. They accused the show of being “un-Islamic” and immoral.

A woman actually said “This program is a threat to Islam. This is entertainment for animals.”

Even between members of Bahrain’s parliament there were critiques against the show.

 “We are an Islamic country with our own traditions. This program spoils the morals of our sons,” MP Jasim al-Saeedi said.

 MBC decided to suspend the production of the program because it “didn’t want to be the cause of differences of opinion”. “This decision aims to avoid exposing MBC and its programs to accusations that it offends Arab values, customs and morals, because we consider MBC to be first and foremost a channel that belongs to the Arab world,” the popular Saudi-owned channel said in a statement.

 The controversy over Big Brother came as Arab world’s first reality TV experiment, a dating show called Al Hawa Sawa ended. Al Hawa Sawa – which means On Air Together – displayed eight women from across the Arab world before men in a luxury apartment for 24 hours a day. The men could contact the woman of their choice to propose marriage. The show was criticized for being too liberal. It ended when one of the last two contestants said she refused to get married.

India’s Vulgar show

Big Boss is a reality show in India that seems to have the same theme as Big Brother. It is a very successful show, which has been aired for 4 seasons, but the government is switching the time slot because of its “increasingly outrageous content”, due to the fact that famous celebrities like Pamela Anderson cameo in some episodes, and it becomes a “vulgar” reality show. The way she dresses is provocative, and not suited for family viewers especially if you see how other contestants are dressed.This show brakes all the taboos, for Its “too modern for the traditional India”.I think this show is interesting for it has some old traditions of India like how some girls dress and dance, but also  mixed with a modern point of view.

here is a link to read more:

here are some clips:

Life After Afghan Star- Setara


Viewing Afghan Star allowed me to realize the extent to which the Afghan people are limited in their freedoms and to reflect on how privileged I am everyday for such minor things that I take for granted. I cannot imagine having aspects of my life such as clothing, television, or music taken out of my control. I never truly understood the seriousness of this matter until seeing how enraged people became when Setara went against what was accepted and appropriate, by dancing on stage. The true eye-opener was the fact that her “dancing” was basically just some slight movements around the stage. This was so innocent in comparison to the dancing one would see at a club here in Rome, in NY where I’m from, or Ann Arbor where I go to school. When the Afghan people to become so infuriated with hatred towards Setara it made me wonder how they would react to seeing people dancing in the way that is socially normal in the reality I live in. The documentary ended with us knowing the Setara’s life was seriously in danger and I was curious to know how her life has been since Afghan Star. I found an HBO documentary, “Silencing The Song: An Afghan Fallen Star”, which focuses on Setara’s life following Afghan Star. While the movie is not available for viewing on the HBO website outside of the US, the synopsis section gives a nice overview on major events in her life since the show. It is comforting to know that she has moved on in a way by starting a family, but it’s very unsettling that her life continues to be in danger and probably always will be.

Idol TV show contestant unites war-weary Iraqis

In 2007, Shada Hassoon, was a charismatic and talented 26-year-old singer, who was doing for Iraq what politicians in that war-torn country have failed to do: unite the nation.
Shada Hassoon was a contestant representing Iraq on LBC’s “Star Academy,” a televised entertainment competition from Lebanon similar to “American Idol.”

“I wish upon all Iraqis abroad and inside Iraq to vote for Shada, and I wish that all of them unite, and I would like to say one word to the Arabs and the entire world that Iraqis are brethren no matter what sect or confession they belong to,” the writer added.

“We voted for Shada without asking if she were a Shiite or a Sunni,” Hicham Mahmoud Alaazami said on the Al-Arabiya Web site. “We voted for her just because she is an Iraqi.”

I think this story is similar to Afghan Star because like the Afghans, war torn Iraqis united for the sake of music. Divided Muslims came together and voted for Shada, not caring whether she was Sunni or Shiite.

posted by Rola Absi

Win in China!

The well-know format of Donald Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice” was exported to China, but – as this Atlantic Monthly article makes clear – with a set of distinctly educational and political goals in mind:

“The didactic and uplifting ambitions of the show could be considered classically Chinese, the latest expression of a value-imprinting impulse that stretches from the Analects of Confucius to the sayings of Chairman Mao. Or they could be considered, like the Horatio Alger novels of young, muscular America, signs of an economy at an expansive moment when many people want to understand how to seize new opportunities. Either way, the particular message delivered by the show seems appropriate to China at this stage of its growth. Reduced to a moral, Win in China instructs Chinese people that they have chances never open to their compatriots before—but also that, as one contestant told me at the end of the show, “The only one I can rely on is myself.”

Read more at:

See also the first ten minutes of a documentary dedicated to the Win in China! story: