Advertisement

Judging the Self: A Pastoral Theological Analysis of Reality Television

  • Philip Browning HelselEmail author
Article
  • 26 Downloads

Abstract

The author explains how Trump reinvented his business failures through reality television by inflating his successes and minimizing his failures. The author then shows how the reality television show itself reflects the rituals of neoliberal capitalism, namely, identification with the boss despite the unequal conditions. Finally, the author maintains that those struggling with layoffs use this entertainment to vicariously compare themselves with others. Echoing the needs of the soul and the theological image of God as judge, this media spectacle invites audiences to identify with individual winners rather than taking collective responsibility for systemic inequality.

Keywords

Neoliberalism Capitalism Reality television Celebrity culture Schadenfreude Stockholm syndrome Impolitainment Pastoral care 

Notes

References

  1. Bell, A. (Producer), & Reitman, J. (Director). (2009). Up in the air. Hollywood: Paramount Pictures.Google Scholar
  2. Couldry, N. (2004). Teaching us to fake it: The ritualized norms of television’s ‘reality’ games. In S. Murray & L. Oulette (Eds.), Reality TV: Remaking television culture (pp. 57–74). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Cvetkovitch, A. (2012). Depression: A public feeling. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Erikson, K. (1978). Everything in its path: Destruction of community in the Buffalo Creek flood. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  5. Faller, S. (2009). Reality T.V.: Theology in the video era. St. Louis: Chalice Press.Google Scholar
  6. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison (A. Sheridan, Trans.). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  7. Green, J. (2017). Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the storming of the presidency. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  8. Hahnel, R., & Wright, E. O. (2014). Alternatives to capitalism: Proposals for a democratic economy. New York: New Left Press.Google Scholar
  9. Harvey, D. (2007). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Helsel, P. B. (2015). Pastoral power beyond psychology’s marginalization: Resisting the discourses of the psy-complex. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Henwood, D. (1992). The American dream: It’s not working. Christianity and Crisis, 52(9), 195–197.Google Scholar
  12. Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (2002). Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  13. Jameson, C. (2010). The ‘short step’ from love to hypnosis: A reconsideration of the Stockholm syndrome. Journal for Cultural Research, 14(4), 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lorenzo-Duz, N., & Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P. (2013). Reality television: A discourse analytical perspective. In N. Lorenzo-Duz & P. Garcés-Conejos Blitvich (Eds.), Real talk: Reality television and discourse analysis in action (pp. 24–39). New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Maffesoli, M. (1996). The time of the tribes: The decline of individualism in mass society. Thousand Oaks: Sage Press.Google Scholar
  16. McFague, S. (1987). Models of God: Theology for an ecological, nuclear age. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  17. Noer, D. (1993). Healing the wounds: Overcoming the trauma of layoffs and revitalizing downsized organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  18. Nussbaum, E. (2017). Guilty pleasure: How TV created Donald Trump. New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/the-tv-that-created-donald-trump. Accessed 1 December 2017.
  19. Oulette, L., & Hay, J. (2009). Better living through reality television: Post-welfare citizenship. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Porter, R. (2017). Breaking: Donald Trump actually says something true about ‘Apprentice’ ratings. TV By the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/more-tv-news/breaking-donald-trump-actually-says-something-true-about-apprentice-ratings/. Accessed 1 December 2017.
  21. Postman, N. (1985/2005). Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  22. Puar, J. (2007). Terrorist assemblages: Homonationalism in queer times. Raleigh: Duke University PressGoogle Scholar
  23. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  24. Raphael, C. (2004). The political-economic origins of reali-TV. In S. Murray & L. Oulette (Eds.), Reality TV: Remaking television culture (pp. 119–136). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Reiss, S., & Wiltz, J. (2004). Why people watch reality TV. Media Psychology, 6, 363–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rogers-Vaughn, B. (2014). Blessed are those who mourn: Depression as political resistance. Pastoral Psychology, 63(4), 503–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rooney, M. (2016). Understanding Trump by watching The Apprentice. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/understanding-trump-by-watching-the-apprentice-68901. Accessed 1 December 2017.
  28. Rothschild, B. (2010). 8 Keys to safe trauma recovery: Take-charge strategies to empower your healing. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  29. Walker, R. (2014). The shame of poverty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wayne, M. L. (2015). Guilty pleasures and cultural legitimation. Journal of Popular Culture, 48(5), 990–1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wood, H., & Skeggs, B. (2009). Talking with television: Women, talk shows & modern self-reflexivity. Urbana: University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  32. Zajonc, R. B. (1968). The attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9(2), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Austin Presbyterian Theological SeminaryAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations