Friday, June 27, 2014

Vlogging vs. Reality Shows

On April 7, 2014, the fans of the popular Youtube video blog (vlog) CTFXC (Charles Trippy Family x Core); also known as Internet Killed Television, were shocked when Charles Trippy announced his separation from his wife Alli.  It came as such a shock because there had virtually no hints in previous vlogs about the separation.  To many, it had burst the bubble of one of the most popular vlogs out there.  Featuring Charles Trippy (who is also the bassist for the band We the Kings) and his wife Alli and their two dogs, it had previously been a positive show where Charles and Alli showed the good things happening in their life.  They record on video themselves doing daily life things and at times talking directly to the camera and the online viewers and then edit and post the videos themselves.  All of it done completely by Charles and Alli.  There are in charge of their vlogs from beginning to end.  And they felt like the perfect couple, living a great life with the people around them. 

This is contrast to reality shows which show the daily life of particular people, for example, Jon and Kate plus Eight, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, Little People Big World, Dance Moms.  In reality show’s case, a professional camera crew following around a family from dawn to dusk, capturing every single moment.  They also interview the subjects later about the days’ events.  Then the producers of the reality show pick a few key moments that happened in the day spiced together with the interviews gathered.  The biggest difference is that the family that is the subject of the reality show typically has no final say about what is shown on an episode of the show.  As a contrast to the DIY element of vlogging, reality shows are a major production, and producers are tasked with creating a narrative that fits into 21 to 43 minutes of footage.  They may sometimes deliberately manipulate footage in order to make it fit into the narrative they want.  (An excellent example of how reality shows are made can found on this clip Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe:; warning, it does contain language)

So are there any differences from vlogs and reality shows?  If so, are the differences more positive or negative?  Do we really get a good picture of our subjects?  One of the biggest differences between vlogging and reality shows is the do-it-yourself nature of video blogging.  There are many vloggers out there and nearly all of them film and edit and have a final say about the video that comes out.  The upside of this is that all of the vloggers are not being manipulated by some outside force, like a producer.  What they say and do on the show is what they intended to do and say in real life.  However, vlogging is, by nature, positive, because the vlogs are what the vloggers want to show the world.  They want to show that they are happy people who get along with the people around them so, obviously, that is the footage that makes it into the vlogs and not the back biting and fighting and drama.  That negative footage is edited out. 

Reality shows, by contrast, emphasize the exact opposite, creating drama out of footage that may or may not have had those moments.  They choose to emphasize the fights, back biting because it heightens the tension in the show.  If you look at the emphasis that the shows place, the difference is clear: the vloggers are definitely more positive, even intentionally so.  The problem being is that vloggers are themselves intentionally manipulative.  They are in charge of their own work, so they only show the best sides of them.  That is why it came as such a shock to the viewers of Charles and Alli Trippy’s viewers when Charles announced his separation from Alli.  In the video, he talks about how he and Alli have been getting into more fights and arguments lately and decided to separate before it got worse.  While he didn’t come outright and apologize for keeping it from his viewers, he did say he thought it would get better.  But it didn’t, and now he and Alli are facing divorce.  Seeing the separation of one of YouTube’s most popular vloggers only leads me to conclude that both could be seen as manipulations, just different type of manipulations.  Reality Shows give us drama, vloggers give us positivity.  I do believe that that what vloggers emphasize is better than reality show give us.  But I also realize how vloggers only show you want they want you to see as well.  With that in mind, do we ever truly know someone we see on YouTube or on TV?  Something to ponder in our quest for reality entertainment.  

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