Location

Panel 08: Kearney 308

Start Date

27-10-2012 8:30 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 10:00 AM

Description

In a time when every B-list celebrity is the star of their own show, it is no secret that America is addicted to reality television. However, it may not be as widely known is that staged reality is not only a contemporary fad, but that this trend in America can be traced back as far as the frontier days – to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. I will examine the bodily agency as found by Native American performers within Buffalo Bill’s show and compare it to that of the characters on MTV’s contemporary reality show Jersey Shore. Using this methodology I propose that it is America’s fascination with the bodily agency of the “other” that is on display within staged reality that establishes this phenomenon as a staple of American pop culture.

In her book The People Have Never Stopped Dancing, Jacqueline Shea Murphy proposes that the, “appeal of the ‘Wild West’ stemmed in large part from their staging of authentic Indians for non-indian audiences” (59). In other words, the staging of authentic “Indians” performing Native American dances provided an “other” that piqued early American audiences’ attention. It is this same fascination with the “other” that validates America’s obsession with the self-proclaimed, “Guido” subculture of the cast members of Jersey Shore. Central to the identity of both these “others” are their specific forms of bodily agency, including dance, dress, and speech.

It is proposed by author and historian Bobby Bridger that, “arguably, the unprecedented relationship between Buffalo Bill and the American press is the genesis of modern pop culture and the coast – to – coast fascination we have with showbiz celebrities.” This would leave one to conclude that Buffalo Bill and his characters on display can be considered as America’s first reality show personas, or the so-called predecessors to the lively “Guido” crew. By examining these two ends of the spectrum for staged reality, I will discuss how the precedents set by audiences and performers in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show are still relevant to shows like Jersey Shore in pop culture today.

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Oct 27th, 8:30 AM Oct 27th, 10:00 AM

American Reality Shows: Bodily Agency and the “Other”

Panel 08: Kearney 308

In a time when every B-list celebrity is the star of their own show, it is no secret that America is addicted to reality television. However, it may not be as widely known is that staged reality is not only a contemporary fad, but that this trend in America can be traced back as far as the frontier days – to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. I will examine the bodily agency as found by Native American performers within Buffalo Bill’s show and compare it to that of the characters on MTV’s contemporary reality show Jersey Shore. Using this methodology I propose that it is America’s fascination with the bodily agency of the “other” that is on display within staged reality that establishes this phenomenon as a staple of American pop culture.

In her book The People Have Never Stopped Dancing, Jacqueline Shea Murphy proposes that the, “appeal of the ‘Wild West’ stemmed in large part from their staging of authentic Indians for non-indian audiences” (59). In other words, the staging of authentic “Indians” performing Native American dances provided an “other” that piqued early American audiences’ attention. It is this same fascination with the “other” that validates America’s obsession with the self-proclaimed, “Guido” subculture of the cast members of Jersey Shore. Central to the identity of both these “others” are their specific forms of bodily agency, including dance, dress, and speech.

It is proposed by author and historian Bobby Bridger that, “arguably, the unprecedented relationship between Buffalo Bill and the American press is the genesis of modern pop culture and the coast – to – coast fascination we have with showbiz celebrities.” This would leave one to conclude that Buffalo Bill and his characters on display can be considered as America’s first reality show personas, or the so-called predecessors to the lively “Guido” crew. By examining these two ends of the spectrum for staged reality, I will discuss how the precedents set by audiences and performers in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show are still relevant to shows like Jersey Shore in pop culture today.