Tagged: creativity

Ph.D. Dance 2015 by Lucie Barbapostolosová, the full description

Communication in Reality TV

Are you one of those people who watch reality television? Well, I belong to those who analyse the most controversial type of communication in reality TV: communication in container reality TV shows. I call it isolated.

I have applied pragma-, psycho- and sociolinguistic methods on hundreds of concrete communication situations, of both verbal and nonverbal nature, and described typical patterns of communication in the stressful (media) environment.

For the Ph.D. Dance video I have chosen these points from the thesis:

Opening and closing the door in scene 1 symbolizes the so-called gate-keeping (control over the media content, control over the participants. There are criteria that you have to fulfil to get through the gate). We have chosen the theatre hall for our performance, because we wanted to emphasize the isolated world of the reality tv show. Especially at the beginning of the video we decided to use the dynamic camera technique (moving camera) to emphasize also the dynamism of such a tv product (including qualities like popularity of a contestant, which changes literally each hour).

How does it all work? Firstly, a group of contestants has to be formed artificially. Criteria of such a formation include: “conflict potential”, sensitivity, interesting life experience, physical attractiveness. The group shares a limited space, knowing that they are being watched – and making use of it.

The levels of communication I observed are (pseudo)intrapersonal (the most nonsensical, such as talking to oneself out loud), interpersonal (talking in two), group (social talk, discussion, decision making in a group, im/politeness), intergroup level (groups within a group – solving a conflict, arguing – members of the smaller groups support their threatened colleagues), institutional (occasional post, police, doctor from the outside world), and all these levels are provided via the mass-media channel/level. This level of course includes the audience. Members of the audience watch the show, they partly make decisions about the destiny of contestants (voting), they also create social network platforms, confront each other and create the so-called parasocial relationships towards the contestants and moderators of the show. All this and much more I was observing in my Ph.D. thesis.

At the end of scene one we are showing the typical dynamics of the group, such as creating integration (e. g. as a result of expressing sympathy), or alienation (e. g. after sarcasm, vulgarity, or hostility towards someone).

Scene two shows contestants intuitively using some typical persuasive models of communication, e. g. assertiveness. There was for example a very nice example of two contestants talking about cheating in relationships and A wanted to convince B that people cheat on each other. She used the assertiveness technique of the broken record – she repeated her opinion again and again till the point when B agreed.

In scene three we show, how the reality tv crew manipulates the contestants´ mood and behaviour, often experimenting with people similarly to psychological laboratories. Since I personally wanted to take part in a big-brother-like reality tv show, I know what methods and psychological questionnaire they used to get as much information about the contestants as possible, including your fears, personal history, favourite music and food and so on. Later on they are using these mechanisms to change your mood and behaviour.

Scene five demonstrates, that from time to time feelings of deep crisis occur and then the contestants urgently want to leave e. g. the house, the island; the audience hear more often the dichotomy we (contestants) as opposed to you (staff, audience) – in case of “direct” confrontation through talking in the cameras – or we as opposed to them – when talking about the audience or staff in the isolated group. Still, in the end, there are just people standing in a row and waiting for the rise or fall. One of them ends up strongest in the run. It is often the one that exposed him/herself much during the show, allowing the audience a parasocial (indirect relationship) experience, and who therefore deserved the golden crown. The exposition is either voluntary or mandatory – the directors of the show could e. g. tell or write the contestants to tell each other the secrets or sins. They would do it then, some of them with a healthy lack of passion for such a self-endangering task.

In the last scene we showed the process of getting the golden crown, with other members of the group present not really physically anymore in the house (that is why the camera is focused primarily on the winner). The winner is sitting in a space that in the Czech environment they also named a confession room (speaking there was called a confession), by which they totally reversed the real meaning of the word. Confession in this sense is public (nonsensical) and used whenever needed in the process.

The problem with reality tv shows of this kind is not the fact that they exist and we watch them. The problem is that some groups of people (often the so-called young adults) start considering the communicative behaviour of contestants as a standard of communication in real environment, something usual. Please, let´s think.

This communication is a product of stressful and untypical circumstances, manipulative influence, and a group that most probably wouldn’t be formed in a real-life situation in the way the staff formed it.


As to Our Needs…

The scientist in me wants to write something again and I was reading a couple of very interesting books now, that inspired me… They helped me to define something, that is clear, but we maybe didn´t hear/read it in such a compact form. For example I was reading about the beliefs that we have and this thought resonated in me:

“As Rokeach pointed out, each of us has certain beliefs ranging from those that are primitive and strongly held to those based on authority, which we derive from our social interchanges. These beliefs set cluster and form attitudes, that Rokeach believes fall into two classes – attitudes towards objects or issues and attitudes toward situations.” And in these attitudes also our needs are reflected. We all know about Abraham Maslow´s pyramid of needs (we can see it here in the picture).

ObrázekPersonally I liked also Vance Packard´s Eight “Hidden Needs” (here with some of my notices):

1. Need for Emotional Security – “we are living in one of the most insecure eras in human history”, so we want to be ensured, everything is fine,
2. Need for Reassurance of Worth – especially because we live in a highly competitive and partly impersonal society,
3. Need for Ego Gratification – not only “you are good enough”, but also “you are special, you are the one and only”,
4. Need for Creative Outlets – and uniqueness,
5. Need for Love Objects – if there is not a partnership, it is usually replaced by pets and so on, (why not),
6. Need for a Sense of Power – also in a sense of driving a motorbike on the open road which makes you feel powerful,
7. Need for Roots – especially with increasing our mobility we appreciate to know and feel our roots, our home (it can be the home inside of you, in your soul, sure),
8. Need for Immortality – partially because of our fear of our own mortality, partially because of our need to “leave a trace in the world” – not to die when we die physically.
I am very interested in how you feel about it. What is maybe the most and less important “hidden need” in your life? You can tell me in the comment section or also on Twitter. I am looking forward. Yours Lucie*
(The quotations are from: LARSON, Charles U. 1989: Reception And Responsibility, p. 171. Belmont (California): Wadsworth Publishing Company. and PACKARD, Vance. 1964 (!). The Hidden Persuaders, p. 61-70. New York: Pocket Books.)


Iveta Bartošová – next “media hunt” victim

Few days ago I heard a voice from the radio: “The famous Czech singer Iveta Bartošová comitted a suicide, when she jumped under the train. She wrote a good-bye letter for her partner and teenage son, in which she writes – you are already a big boy, you can handle the situation…and you, my Love, I am waiting for you on the other side…” Iveta decided to end her life the way which is not typical for women – as to the statistics. Women are more likely to use some pills or…knife. At least in the Czech Republic. But Iveta tried this already in the past, so this was something like the next step.
Truth is, that her life in the last few years was literally tragical. She didn´t walk, talk, look like a confident woman. Having ups and downs she seemed a bit confused and very vulnerable. She was a pitiable woman, “occasional” alcohol and pills addict. If you would compare your life to life of Iveta, you would feel very satisfied and your worries and stress would seem to be nonessential. When I saw Iveta on TV occasionally, I felt just deep compassion. Partially she was a disallowed or underestimated artist, altough she still had a great potential.
Her creativity was not “wanted in public” in the last years. (Not like in the eighties and nineties, where she was one of the most important divas in the showbiz.) This is one of the worst things that can happen to an artist, actually. It is something like a death penalty for a creative person. Artists are special people… a “normal” person doesn´t hear so many inner voices, doesn´t lead inner dialogues, doesn´t contemplate about life and death, about colours around us, about sounds, connections…about the butterfly flying around you, about the nice smell of the apple pie that your neighbour just baked…
Artists do this…naturally. They don´t actually “do” it, it is done through them. They are hypersensitive beings, which makes them to enrich the lives of other people due to almost unlimited fantasy, but also to great inner tensions and it makes them very often think about the meaning of life, and also about suicide or about some self-destructive behaviour (just because they want to feel they are really alive and feel pain or passion). Almost a maniodepressive way of an artistic existence is a natural part of the artist´s soul. The question is, if they fullfill their “task” before leaving or not. I have to say that I am convinced, that life that has ended before the 30th year doesn´t have to be automatically a wasted young life. Nevertheless – it is an early “checkout”…
Let´s remember Amy Winehouse – in the last period of her life she was more like a living ruin, but also a singing Goddess, who just couldn´t handle all the drugs. Any drug addiction is a type of self-destructive behaviour and using the drugs is in a way a small and every-day suicide…
Let´s remember Kurt Cobain, whose dead is a bit mysterious also today. And what about Jim Morisson? What about Philip Seymor Hoffmann to name one of the last victims? As to the Czech context – let´s mention the singer Petr Muk (fascinated by spiritual practice and maniodeppressive at the same time, he is in the picture lower) – he died when he combined pills and alcohol. At night he suffocated during deep sleep with his vomit. (a link to Marylin Monroe?) I would like to mention also the very talented film, musical and serial music composer Karel Svoboda, who shoot himself such as the excellent actor Vlastimil Brodský. These two men were already older, in their sixties. Let´ s remember all the ones, who couldn´t handle their creative passion and the typical media hunt on talented and “commercialised” people-products. 

I would love to wish all of them to be finally happy, wherever they are. The most important information for ourselves is, what do these stories REALLY tell us, what is the statement for us and our existence. What do they prompt us to, motivate us to…what shall one do and what maybe not…where to put one´s energy and where not…how fullfilled is our life?

For the media these are strong messages, too… How much do you influence lives of the so-called celebrities? How can they exist without you, and/but how do they exist WITH you, with your presence around them? To find and assert the right way how to treat celebrities correctly and not ruthlessly – this is the topic in the times when the most sold magazines are boulevard magazines…in our capitalist time…

***Iveta, you little tired girl, have some rest now, rest in peace. You did everything the best way you could.***