"a dan crashing the party" exploring reality-celebrity in MTV'S real world franchise

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Abstract

Reality TV's (re)emergence at the turn of the century necessitates a reconsideration of what it means to work in television as on-camera talent. Through a study of reality actor Susie Meister, the author examines a new kind of television-based celebrity created in the wake of the longest-running U.S. reality series, The Real World (1992g-). This form of celebrity, which I call "reality-celebrity,"diverges from other modes of televisual fame by encoding its participants as off-camera texts cast to perform their "ordinarinessg" within the confines of a reality persona. Different from other types of television personalities (e.g., talk show hosts, news anchors), MTV's reality-celebrities must continually act as if they are off camera. The "behindthe-scenesg" quality of Meister's fame is explored to trace some of the ways in which MTV's construction of celebrity challenges past notions of televisual fame. Ultimately, this article considers the implications of reality TV's blurring of the distinction between participant and performer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-266
Number of pages16
JournalTelevision and New Media
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2009

Keywords

  • Celebrity
  • MTV
  • Reality TV
  • Reality-celebrity
  • Road Rules
  • Television
  • The Real World

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