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: "An athletic hoodie never goes out of style according to me. It's easy, can get dirty, and you'll show a bit of school pride. Besides, no one expects you to look top dollar every day in graduate school.” –Male, 27, MD

The hyper-monitored childhood of the next generation has them growing up tech-supervised, and now teenagers are getting the same treatment with the new app Ignore No More, dreamed up by one frustrated mom. The app gives parents the ability to control their children’s phones, shutting down everything but parent-approved contacts and forcing them to call home for the unlock passcode. Since Millennials consider their mobile devices to be their personal and private property, installing the app might prove to be the biggest challenge. (Jezebel)

Teen males have been the most sought after demographic in the gaming world—until now. Females make up 48% of gamers in the U.S. and women over 18 outnumber teen males in the game-playing space, especially with the “surge in casual mobile gaming” apps like Candy Crush, Hay Day, and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The increase of women gamers extends well past smartphones, and male-targeted games, like Assassin's Creed, are opened up to a new audience thanks to the prevalence of "couples play." (WSJ)

Instagram can be used for more than just image sharing, and since Mazda feels the platform is “still a bit untapped,” they are charging ahead with a new digital-only marketing campaign to promote the MX-5 Roadster. The Mazda Canada account will debut a new 9-tile magazine page spread each week, where each square in the design opens to a video showing “history vignettes” about the car’s design and mechanics. This Insta-mag campaign will serve as a soft launch for the Roadster to 18-35-year-olds, giving them quick, visual bites of information that build the car's story and appeal. (StreamDaily)

Michelle Phan, an original YouTube star, has been able to translate her online fame offline through a makeup brand, beauty subscription service, book deal, and the creation of a digital network to scout and manage new online talent. Millennials find online stars more approachable and authentic than professionals and Hollywood A-listers, a reason why these days “any company that has money is approaching YouTubers.” Since 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S., stars like Phan are planning to expand to branded partnerships in global markets. (Mercury News)

It is easier than ever to unknowingly enter unwanted contracts online, so a group of teens is pushing to reinstate a lawsuit against Facebook for using their names and images in social ads, even though the fine print lets the social network do so. While this generation is concerned about privacy and content rights online, the court originally felt that putting user content in social ads was a “fair exchange” for using the social network. (MediaPost)

Need to know what a certain subset of Millennials is thinking? Silver and Gold Tier subscribers have access to Advanced Instant Poll tools, giving them the ability to submit questions to our mobile social community of 2 million 13-34-year-olds and target specific ages and gender like female teens or males of college-age. Targeting by age or gender (or both!) gets more focused responses and can be used for gut-checks statistics on key demographics. (Ypulse)

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