Death and Reality TV: Has Reality Gotten Too Real?

This week, MTV is dealing with the fall-out from the death of one of their reality stars. Shain Gandee, a castmember of the Jersey Shore in Appalachia show Buckwild, and two companions died of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning while going late-night off-roading—a pastime that Shain was often shown enjoying on the show.
 
The death of the reality star has some questioning the future of the show, which had begun filming its second season. But a larger question could also be asked about the future of reality TV at large: has the line been crossed where the fun antics that once drew young viewers in, have too heavy a consequence to keep them watching? Did everything just get a little too real?
 
Young viewers want reality TV that lifts them up, or makes them feel better about themselves through the magic of schadenfreude. But when the scale tips too far in the side of morose, the fun of watching comes to a screeching halt. Reality TV holds a unique place in entertainment for viewers, who love to see “real” people with over-the-top drama, but are wary of being too reminded of the stresses or sadnesses of their own lives while watching. It’s possible that Gen Y viewers could turn away from the genre of reality as it exists now if it continues to showcase the things in life they’d just rather not see.
 
Reality TV charts new territory when it comes to where the boundaries between public and private lie. Though the shows might have a staff of writers, these are real people being featured, so hiding their flaws and tragedies is not a possibility. This is not the first death of a reality star that has been glaringly played out in the public spotlight. Bravo drew criticism for continuing with the second season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after the death of Russell Armstrong, the…

 
 
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Quote of the day: “I’m single and I’m okay with it.” –Female, 15, MA

Ypulse’s January monthly survey found that 55% of 13-32-year-olds say that the one tech device they cannot live without is their smartphone, and that makes dying batteries a major issue for mobile-dependent young consumers. As app usage increases, battery life quickly decreases—but a new solution to the perpetually dying phone battery is here. Ikea has announced a line of tables, desks, and lamps that will be able to wirelessly charge some mobile devices—simply place a phone on the surface and it begins to fuel up. The furniture is due to hit European and North American stores in April. We expect the design of products and spaces will likely continue to shift to accommodate smartphone addictions. (Wall Street JournalRefinery29)

Who knew a tweet could be worth so much? The marketing power of social media users could be validated by a new study that reports a single tweet, when sent out one to five weeks before a film’s release, can add $560 to a movie’s opening weekend box office numbers. Catchy tweets illustrating intentions to see the movie or encouraging others to watch are worth $4,420 four weeks before the movie’s release. More than 30 million people reportedly tweet about movies each month, and this could be valuable information as Hollywood struggles at a time when there are increasingly more entertainment options for young consumers. (MediaPost)

A recently released study on young consumers and cars claims that “once Millennials gain spending power, the auto industry is going to be turned upside down.” A reported 47% of Millennials believe that cars, and which brand of car they own, really matter. The findings contradict the common perception that young consumers don’t care about cars and are choosing ride-sharing companies or the urban bicycle movement over their own vehicles. The study reports that Millennials have a “surprising affinity” for Volkswagen and Tesla, for its use of technology and commitment to social good. The research also predicts this generation of car owners will “prioritize brands based on alignment with their own personal values.” (Huffington Post)

Although 58% of 13-17-year-olds said eating healthy is extremely important to them in a 2014 Ypulse monthly survey, it can be hard for teens and tweens to make the right nutrition decisions. Research has found that despite attempts to bring more fruits and veggies into school lunch rooms, six out of 10 kids “won’t even touch a healthy option on their plate.” One study suggests that food presentation makes a difference in fruit and vegetable consumption, and putting vegetables before other food in the lunch line can get them to eat more. For teens, linking healthy eating to something they already care about can help encourage better diets, while the counting calories approach actually leads to unhealthier eating. (Medical Daily)

Kid content is ruling YouTube. Six of the current top 10 most popular YouTube channels are children-focused, making the launch of the standalone YouTube Kids app look like a pretty smart move. Funtoys Collector, the toy-unboxing channel, is the most viewed creator on YouTube, usurping PewDiePie as the site’s biggest star, and showing the power of the unboxing trend. The six children’s channels in the top 10 earned almost 2 billion views in January alone, and YouTube’s top 100 channels saw viewing increase 110% in the last year, from 7 billion video views in January 2014 to 14.7 billion in January 2015. (The Guardian)

We don’t just deliver data. Along with our bi-weekly survey result data files, we provide our Gold subscribers with a topline report that synthesizes hand-picked, illuminating data points and our insights and expertise. Interesting differences between males and females, older and younger Millennials, ethnicities, and more are highlighted, and relevant statistics are streamlined into an easily consumed, concise, visual takeaway. (Ypulse)

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