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19 DECEMBER 2012

North Korean 'Propaganda' is the real viral hit of 2012

"Propaganda 2012 is a 95–minute video that presents itself as a North Korean educational video intending to inform the citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea about the dangers of Western propaganda. The video's uploader, known as 'Sabine', reiterates a statement she gave to the Federal Police regarding the movie's origins. She explains how the film was given to her by people claiming to be North Korean defectors whilst she was visiting Seoul. ...

Although the origins of Propaganda 2012 are contentious, its power lies in the fact that much of its content attempts to avoid invented history. Considering the media buzzwords associated with the alleged country of origin, Propaganda 2012 turns a mirror onto the Western world and seeks to criticise its entire history and culture–from the genocide and imperialism of its past, to the interventionism and consumerism of the modern era. The movie's overall attitude seems to express an intention to educate, shock and caution its audience into realising that people in the West are governed by a super–rich ruling class (The one per cent), who do not offer them true democracy; but instead seek to invade and assimilate as many countries as possible, whilst distracting their population with a smokescreen of consumerism, celebrity, and reality television. This message is spread across the video's 17 chapters, which each attempt to focus on specific examples of Western indoctrination and oppression. The film is regularly punctuated by commentary from an anonymous North Korean professor, and quotes from Western thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins. ...

Propaganda 2012 is certainly a film where the audience takes from it what they bring to it, and a variety of emotions can be induced upon viewing. Laughter, cynicism, outrage, contemplation and reflection would all be adequate responses to the video's tough, and often graphic, portrayal of the complex world in which we are living. Yet perhaps the most important thing to remember when watching the film is that the video is available to view uncensored, on a largely unregulated world wide web, and merely represents an extreme end of the vast spectrum of free expression. Therefore, during this festive end to an austere year, enjoy Propaganda 2012 as an interesting and beguiling alternative voice that cries loudly against the dangers of religious consumerism, and reminds us to remain humble and reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves."

(Kieran Turner–Dave, 17 December 2012, Independent Arts Blogs)

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20129/11anti-capitalism • brainwashing • capitalismCentury of the Selfcommunismconspiracy theoriesconsumer cultureconsumer desireconsumerism • counter-terrorism • criticismcult of celebritycultural imperialismcultural implicationsdemocracydistractiondocumentary • DPRK • emotive manipulation • false flag • fear • fear of communism • fear of terrorism • free expression • Gangnam Style • genocidehalf-baked ideashistory and culture • hysterics • imperialism • indoctrination • interventionism • invented history • Just Do It • Korea • life in the West • likes • manufacturing consent • moralitynarcissismnationalism • neo-imperialist • Noam ChomskyNorth KoreaoppressionOprah WinfreyParis Hiltonpatriotismpolitical educationpropagandaPropaganda (2012)public relationsQuentin Tarantinoreality televisionreligion • religious consumerism • Richard Dawkins • Sabine (pseudonym) • salvation • September 11 2001shockingsmokescreensocialist realismSociety of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)South Koreaspectacle • Survivor (tv series) • terrorism • the one per cent • trust • Tyra Banks • unconscious desireswatching television

CONTRIBUTOR

David Reid
02 DECEMBER 2012

Billy Bragg: 'education reforms risk stifling creativity'

"Singer Billy Bragg has warned that the government's education reforms risk stifling creativity and leaving the pop charts the preserve of a well–off public school elite.

Bragg used a lecture in memory of broadcaster John Peel in Salford to criticise education secretary Michael Gove's plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of an English baccalaureate. He also turned his ire on and 'culture–clogging shows' such as Simon Cowell's The X Factor on ITV1.

The singer and leftwing activist said the government's proposed new education system threatened to exclude creative subjects from the core qualifications expected of 16–year–olds.

'At a time of cuts to the education budget, the pressure on schools to dump subjects like music and drama in favour of those that offer high marks in performances tables will only grow,' said Bragg.

He criticised the 'insistence that knowledge is more important than creativity', adding: 'As Albert Einstein said, imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the whole world'.

Bragg, delivering the second annual John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival on Monday, said: 'Under the English baccalaureate, with its reliance on a single end of course exam, the child with the creative imagination will always lose out to the child with the ability to recall knowledge learned by rote."

(John Plunkett, 12 November 2012, The Guardian)

Billy Bragg "John Peel Lecture", photograph: Andrew Stuart/Radio Festival/PR.

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2012Albert Einsteinalgorithmic filtersart schools • Billy Bragg • coalition government • core subjects • creative arts • creative imagination • creative professionscreative subjectscreativitycriticism • culture-clogging • DIY ethicdramaeducation budgeteducation reform • education secretary • English Baccalaureateexamsfreedom of expressionGCSEimaginationITV1John Peel • John Peel Lecture • knowledge • learning by rote • leftwing activistMichael Govemusic • new education system • Notts Unsigned • performance tablesperformativitypolicy agenda • public school elite • Radio Festival • reality television • recall knowledge • rote learningSalford • Simon Cowell • singer • skiffle • Spotify • stifling creativity • X Factor

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 JULY 2012

Fahrenheit 451: passive consumption through audience participation

"When the 'Family' (the television with its 'cousin' announcers and actors) presents an interactive play in which Linda believes she has a role, an actor (Donald Pickering) wearing glasses with thick, black rectangular frames, turns to the camera as it zooms in on him and says, 'What do you think, Linda?'"

(Tom Whalen, Gale Student Resources In Context)

Whalen, Tom. "The Consequences of Passivity: Re–evaluating Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451," in Literature–Film Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 3, July, 2007, pp. 181(10).

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1966Alphaville • anti-intellectualism • audience participation • banbannedBernard Herrmannbig brotherbook • book burning • book-people • booksburning • Clarisse (character) • comic bookconformityconsolettecontroldisplay walldomestic futuresdystopiadystopian futureFahrenheit 451fire • fire department • firefighter • fireman • Francois Truffaut • Furia • futuristic societyGattacahousewifehumourindividualisminteractive dramainteractive experience • interactive teledrama • interactive television • It Happened Here (film) • Julie ChristieLinda (character)literature • Machiavelli • mahogany veneer • massificationmedia consumerMetropolis (1927)Montag (character)new forms of television • Nicolas Roeg • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)Oskar Werner • parlor wall • parlour • participation dramaparticipative media • passive consumer • passive consumptionpicture newspaper • pro-literature underground • Ray Bradburyreadingreality televisionscience fictionself-reflexivity • sensory deprivation • speculative fictionsubversion • telecast • televisiontelevision screenThe Family (television) • The Handmaids Tale • The Martian Chronicles • The Prince (book) • THX 1138 • totalitarianism • TV parlor • TV story • TV wall • video wall • visual joke • wall TV • wall-sized screen • what do you think • written languagewritten word

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
23 APRIL 2012

An American Family: the genesis of reality television

"Unlike most documentaries of its day, An American Family had no host, no interviews, and almost no voice–over narration. Producer Craig Gilbert presented the family's daily life – as captured by filmmakers Alan Raymond behind the camera, and Susan Raymond covering sound – in the style of cinéma vérité. It was the most controversial and talked–about television program of its era.

PBS was then a fledgling 'fourth network' joining CBS, NBC and ABC, and despite its non–commercial profile was looking for blockbuster hits, according to Bill Kobin, Vice President for programming at NET at the time. In the course of its 12 week run, An American Family riveted the country and drew in a record 10 million viewers a week. In the years since it was first broadcast, the series has become the subject of lengthy articles and reviews, including panel discussions with anthropologist Margaret Mead, who speculated that An American Family could be the beginning of a new way to explore the complexities of contemporary reality, 'maybe as important for our time as were the invention of drama and the novel for earlier generations.'

Now, 40 years since filming, the original filmmakers have edited a new 2–hour feature–length special capturing the most memorable and compelling moments of the landmark series. See for yourself why An American Family is one of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time (TV Guide, 2002)."

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

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197119721973 • Alan Raymond • American family lifeAn American Family • Bill Kobin • Bill Loud • cinema verite • contemporary reality • Craig Gilbert • cultural anthropologydaily life • Delilah Loud • direct cinemadocumentaryethnographic filmfamilyfamily lifefly-on-the-wall • Grant Loud • Kevin Loud • Lance Loud • landmark series • Loud family • Margaret Mead • Michele Loud • non-commercialnon-fiction televisionNorth Americaobservational seriesobservational style • Pat Loud • PBSportrait of a familyportrait of family lifereal behaviourrealityreality televisionsocial reality • Susan Raymond • televisiontelevision documentarytelevision programmetelevision series • The Louds • The Raymonds • TV • video verite • visual anthropology • WNET

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 APRIL 2012

The Family: warts-and-all portrait of working-class 1970s Britain

"Modelled on the 13–part observational series, An American Family (US, d. Craig Gilbert, 1972), producer Paul Watson's 12–part The Family (BBC, 1974) is credited with creating the concept of the 'fly–on–the–wall' documentary in Britain. Regardless, Watson's cinema verité–style, warts–and–all portrait of the working–class Wilkins family certainly popularised an 'observational' style still seen as the defining characteristic of British documentary some twenty–five years later.

The Family follows the daily lives of Terry and Margaret Wilkins, their children and their partners, as they all struggle to live together in a small flat in Reading. The series sets out to reveal to viewers the reality of family life in Britain as never shown before. "No TV family ever has dirty pots and pans," says Margaret in episode one, and the Wilkins demonstrate a remarkable candour in their on–camera conversations with one another.

Watson and his small crew spent two months with the Wilkins prior to filming. After this the team filmed the family eighteen hours a day for three months. The result was an extraordinary portrait of family life: honest, hilarious and painful, an instant classic the impact and influence of which (on both fiction and non–fiction television) it would be difficult to overestimate.

The Family divided critics and viewers alike, and the Wilkins were villified by the tabloid press for all manner of imagined transgressions: their 'acting' for the camera or their 'real' behaviour in front of it, their use of bad language and public airing of previously taboo subjects. Watson explained that he "wanted to make a film about the kind of people who never got on to television," and clearly the sight of a powerful and opinionated woman like Margaret Wilkins, or the challenge of daughter Heather to the casual racism of 1970s middle–England, was shocking to a certain section of the British public (Mary Whitehouse was among those who called for the series to be banned, lest this 'representative' family be seen as a model to imitate)."

(Joe Sieder, BFI Screenonline)

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1970s1974 • acting for the camera • An American FamilyBBCBritainBritish documentary • candour • casual racismcinema veritecultural signalsdirect cinemadocumentaryfamilyfamily lifefly-on-the-wallFranc Roddam • honest • Margaret Wilkins • Mary Whitehouse • non-fiction televisionobservational seriesobservational style • on-camera conversations • Paul Watsonportraitportrait of a familyportrait of family life • Reading (city) • real behaviourreality television • small flat • social changesocial classsocial constructionismsocial realitysocial stratificationsocietysocio-economictaboo subjectstelevisiontelevision documentarytelevision series • Terry Wilkins • The FamilyThe Family (television)TVUK • warts-and-all • working class

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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