Friday, October 9, 2015

Reality TV, Househunters, journal thoughts

As I was preparing for a news interview, I took to my journal to lay out all my thoughts.  I wanted to get it down here on the blog with the other stuff:

My overall experience taping Househunters was fun.  I really enjoyed the acting, learning about the sound and the cameras and holding myself for the camera.  However, that was just 5 days of my life.  It's now been 8 years and I see the whole experience as rather exploiting.  Both of us, but mostly of the viewers.  From us they learned that people with kids need BIG houses.  I felt like a puppet and my face was used as part of a cultural message that wasn't at all helpful as the housing market imploded.

What surprised me during filming was how many takes we had to shoot.  Every short scene had several takes.  5 or 6 sometimes.  And we weren't stuttering or struggling.  They just wanted A LOT of tape to work with.  I was surprised how much acting was involved.  The producer coached each take for emotion, energy, and ideas of what to say.  They had pre-screened our looks, our voices, and our energy level, so it was extremely close to acting.  But they didn't have to pay us or work around a union.

If this had been reality - and about me as a person, not a character it wouldn't have been smooth or consise.  I love houses and I just sit and stare and drink in every detail.  For this taping I was told where to walk when, even how to glide my hand along the kitchen counters as I noted their color and condition.  I laughed that I felt like Vanna White or one of the "ladies" on The Price is Right as I did the hand twirl to showcase a particular house detail :).

I am still deeply uncomfortable when "reality" stars like the Kardashians are vilified as some kind of greedy sub-human species for our consumption.  They are people.  The television producers are salespeople.  They are casting that family (and every other subject) in a light as part of a story they have written.  Every look, every angle, every subtle conversation has often been coached first and then cut and edited together in order to tell the written story.  If we find it unethical to bully or hate an actor for the negative character they played in a dramatic movie, I think we have just as high an obligation to know the background and truth around our reality characters as well.  Their roles we watch are every bit as separate from who they are as a person.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bobi :)
    I've been a fan of HH/HHI for awhile, I don't have HGTV so I just catch whatever episodes people upload online. I don't think I've seen yours as I don't remember anything with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
    That said, I got to this page by first reading Hooked on Houses and reading your post about your experience, which I found really interesting and enjoyed reading! Like many, I am aware that reality TV isn't quite "reality" and that I as a viewer should absorb my entertainment with a grain of salt to say the least. I did find it interesting how from your post in 2012, to this post just last month, (and I could easily be wrong so I apologize if I am) your tone seemed to change significantly from viewing the experience originally as fun and positive to now seeing it as exploitative and with a more negative light. I am a bit curious as to why it changed so much.
    I watch HHI as a way to explore new places through the eyes of others, and I enjoy seeing the different ways homes are designed/decorated/laid out throughout different places and cultures in the world.
    I enjoyed all of your writing on your experience with a reality tv show. Hope whichever home you're in now is great to you and your family :)


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