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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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: "A benefit of unplugging is getting a more personal view of the world back. (Social media tends to distort your perception to bend to what others are thinking/feeling/saying/doing.)” —Female, 25, MN

Liam Matthews, a teenager from New Zealand, has grown his Instagram following from under 150,000 to over 1.5 million in the course of a year by combining celebrity glamour shots with DIY cross-dressing. His profile documents his attempts to mimic the looks of young female celebrities using fabric scraps, an array of wigs, and strategically placed ramen noodles. Sticking to side-by-side comparison images and a focus on the most popular young celebrities, Matthews has struck a format that makes imitation the sincerest form of humor. (Uproxx)

Every brand seem to want their own hashtag catchphrase, but authenticity and sheer common sense are being compromised by some in pursuit of the viral tag. Over the course of 12 hours, one writer noticed 39 distinct hashtags, including #unseenacne for Neutrogena which was deemed “#FreakingGross” by one Twitter user and a #sorrynotsorry copycat from Equinox coined #preapologize. While the latter has seen 1.2 million impressions (many from the company and its employees), some have been so confused by the wording that they had to ask Equinox directly what it was supposed to mean. (WSJ)

Good thing OKCupid users aren’t raising much alarm over recent experiments conducted on them, because the company is unapologetic. The three experiments that faked matchmaking results and manipulated conversations were detailed in full on OKCupid’s trends blog under the title "We Experiment on Human Beings!" Internet skeptical Millennials are used to their data being used behind-the-scenes, and may not have as much issue with OKCupid as other tests made public (like those from Facebook) because “experimentation in dating is part of the process” to improve matches. (NYT

Transparency communication is the new buzzword at Johnson & Johnson who has started a movement to win over Millennial moms. The first ad in the planned 40-plus series announces that they will remove controversial ingredients from their products and reminds viewers that J&J employees are parents themselves, having them write 1,000 promises to reflect the company's dedication to change. Future video series will serve to debunk myths, educate new parents, and connect them through social media forums. (AdAge)

A Disney princess clothing collection from BlackMilk, featuring Snow White bomber jackets, mermaid leggings, and Hakuna Matata skater skirts, is selling out. Mind you, this collection is made for adult females. We took a look at what happens when the princesses grow up, and discovered that Millennials are eager to co-opt Disney imagery and update it to fit with their current lifestyles. Though some don't appreciate their favorite animations being slapped onto skintight clothing, the bold and graphic prints clearly appeal to some and would probably make for some unique rave gear. (Jezebel)

Quote of the Day: “In the future, I'd like to pay off my student loans and not starve or get evicted. A stable job would be nice.” –Male, 26, PA

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