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: “I thought that this past Cyber Monday, ThinkGeek had the best deals.” –Male, 26, IN
The true impact of mobile devices on young minds has not been fully determined, and public belief seems to be split on the influence of technology on kids and family. A new global survey found that, 53% agree that “digital technology and the internet are ruining childhood." However, the degree to which individuals believe this varies significantly by country: while 70% of respondents in India agreed, 75% of those in Japan disagreed with the same statement. At the same time, 52% around the world felt that growing up without access to tech puts children at a disadvantage. (PRNewser)
In Ypulse’s 2015 Prediction Roundup, we told you smart tech was poised to take over our worlds, and according to several creative industry leaders, this could be one of the biggest challenges to brands this year. A round up of expert opinions on what will impact marketing in 2015 also includes the importance of merging digital and experiential marketing that “has the ability to be documented socially,” a continued obsession with celebrities and micro-celebs, and virtual reality (see Vice’s VR Millions March below). The need for brands to be more honest, empathetic, and to take a social stance is a major theme as well. (Fast Company)
Vice News, a Millennial dominated channel, is continuing their untraditional coverage style by introducing virtual reality to their audience. Vice demonstrated what the future of reporting might look like with their virtual reality coverage of the New York Millions March this past December. With Vice’s correspondent Alice Speri navigating the experience for the viewer, the use of a 360-degree camera system immerses viewers right in the action of the event. The Vice VR Millions March report is available to view through the app VRSE, and supports Google Cardboard, a cheap and easy way to watch VR. VR is still fairly new on the scene, but is a ripe opportunity for innovative and compelling storytelling. (TechCrunch)
Young consumers are leading a travel revolution, and it can be difficult for established brands to compete with the comfort, convenience, and authenticity an affordable home-rental Airbnb provides. In an attempt to win back Millennial guests, Marriot is launching Moxy, a microhotel chain that is redefining budget hotels by emphasizing self-service, style, and social. The hotels boast in-house bars, free Wi-Fi, fresh coffee, and rooms designed with Millennials in mind: simple, small, cheaper, and inspired by boutique aesthetics. Outside of the Moxy chain, Marriot is experimenting with other Millennial-friendly features, including TVs that allow guests to stream from their own Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora accounts. (The Washington Post)
“Millennials are projected to become the largest segment of the luxury consumer market by 2018-2020,” so understanding how they view luxury is increasingly important. As Ypulse explored in 2014, Millennials are redefining the luxury market to fit their needs. Luxury now can mean rarity, convenience, or an uncommon event, all separate from that age-old notion of pretense. This generation is more interested in showing off who they are than how much they make, the brand on the labels matter less than the story behind the product, and they’re focusing on purity, authenticity, and sustainability. At the same time, these young spenders are “showing a preference for discovering luxuries in a manner that is far more casual, experimental, and fun.” (Campaign)
Every other week we tap into our panel of 150,000+ Millennials in a survey of 1,000 13-32-year-olds for their take on current events, trending topics, changing attitudes, and new norms. The question library in the My Library tab on Ypulse.com allows Silver and Gold subscribers to see what we’ve asked and how we’ve asked it for every survey we've done, giving them a better understanding of how we talk to Millennials and an accessible data bank of all of the Millennial statistics available to them. (Ypulse)

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