- Ross, Chapter 2
- November 8th, 2010
Ross talks about the case of American Idol in the chapter “Power to the People, or Power to the Industry?” American Idol, being a reality television show, presents a different set of problems, questions, and concerns with regard to producers and consumers. In terms of participation, it is somewhat unique in that, unlike many other reality shows, there exists a voting component where viewers have a hand in deciding the fate of contestants. This is very different from fictional texts, where there is inherent tension in viewers interfering with a preconceived narrative text, for example, in the case of fan fiction for Xena or Supernatural. The proliferation or the bleeding over of the text into multiple media, including the internet and music, actually serves to benefit the industry in addition to providing viewer participation with a fluid reality show text. Clearly, in terms of the power to make decisions about and shape the text, the producers have more of this than the consumers. Taking a Marxist perspective, this format still serves to validate class inequality and sustain the status quo. However, this could serve as a model to learn from in terms of applying certain aspects to other reality shows, maybe even fictional series. Certainly, there have been opportunities in the past where viewers have been given the chance to decide the inclusion or introduction of a character into a fictional narrative, for example, in the case of Heroes. I think another key difference is the mass appeal of American Idol and its status as a mainstream show as opposed to one that is cult.