Judging the Self: A Pastoral Theological Analysis of Reality Television

  • Philip Browning HelselEmail author


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.


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



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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Austin Presbyterian Theological SeminaryAustinUSA

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