Dr. Wendy Wyatt, an associate professor in the Communication and Journalism Department, and Dr. Kris Bunton, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will speak on “The Ethics of Reality TV” on Thursday, April 12. Free and open to the public, the event will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts.
In their forthcoming book, The Ethics of Reality TV, Wyatt and Bunton argue that reality television programs matter in ways that influence an individual’s ethical life. Reality TV – like all communication – helps shape the way individuals view and interact with the world, helps make the world meaningful and even helps construct that world. The book, therefore, takes reality TV seriously and explores the ethical questions it raises.
What do Bunton and Wyatt, with the help of nine other contributors, discover in their study? The genre is complicated and sometimes surprising. Whether viewers recognize as reality TV the contest shows such as “Project Runway,” “The Amazing Race” and “American Idol,” or family-oriented narratives such as “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” “19 Kids and Counting” and “Little People, Big World,” or the shows about offbeat occupations such as “Pawn Stars,” “Ice Road Truckers” and “Cake Boss,” reality TV offers a way to examine ethical issues that range from exploitation, invasion of privacy, excessive commercialization and stereotyping, to issues such as flourishing, democratization and community building.