I Can Make You a (Net) Celebrity Overnight: Fan Production and Participatory Culture in Online Reality Shows
Media in Transition 5.0, Cambridge, MA, May 2007
34 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2011
Date Written: May 1, 2007
Online versions of reality shows pit users against each other, following the conventions of television franchises like American Idol and Project Runway. An outgrowth of the popularity of both reality television and internet fandom, online reality contests are fan-driven and made possible by free publishing tools such as Google Video, YouTube, Flickr and DeviantArt. These contests, like Google Idol and LiveJournal’s Next Top Model (LNTM), comprise a new, hybrid genre of fan production that mimics the rules and structure of reality television programs, while encouraging participant creativity. While these competitions draw from conventions of specific programs, their participants are no longer “audiences” or even “fans” in a strict sense; rather, they are micro-media producers themselves. I argue that online reality competitions, together with other hybrid forms such as machinima, anime music videos and filk music, not only contribute to our understanding of participatory culture, but should fundamentally alter media studies concepts of the audience.
Keywords: participatory culture, YouTube, reality television, audience theory, fandom
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