Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Designing for Spreadability Part 2

Posted by jasendavis on April 10, 2017

I want to focus on the points made by Fiske and Hyde about how companies make their products more ambiguous and open ended in order for all sorts of viewers to be able to relate and project themselves on to. Some are a little more obvious. For example, the Walking Dead has a “Zombiefy Me” app that allows people to be able to turn themselves into a zombie. Some are more subtle. For example, the casting on TV shows and movies may be geared towards average looking actors and actresses more so now than in the past i.e. Melissa McCarthy.

I want to propose a theory as to why we see so many reality shows on TV now. I would say that it is due to the same phenomenon that Fiske described. The goal of reality shows is to present a relatable scenario to viewers with which they can compare it to their own lives. Some of these fail in doing so (Jersey Shore) or strive to relate emotions rather than situations (Survivor or The Amazing Race). However, some do a great job in projecting the viewer into their world by making them ask, “What would I do if I were in that situation?” I think it is amazing to see the logic of producers at work. What do people want to watch? Something they can relate to. How do we make media relatable? By placing others in the situation we hope captivates the audience and have them projecting their own views and emotions into the lives of these people on screen.  I’m hard pressed to name a reality show that failed, because, if they keep to the script, they have very little uncertainty.


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