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: “Next winter I will be going on a solo backpacking trip through Southeast Asia and India. I plan to visit ashrams in India, go hiking and kayaking through SE Asia, try new cuisines, meet locals, and get off the beaten path.” – Female, 26, CO

Last month, we told you we could be seeing the end of the long-standing “sex sells” standby thanks to the “seen it all” generation. Now more research is backing up the idea that sex doesn’t actually sell. Ad testing firm Ameritest asked consumers about Carl’s Jr.’s latest spot featuring a nearly-naked model and found 32% felt worse about the brand after seeing the ad, compared to 8% who feel the same after watching an average fast food commercial. (DigidayAdAge)

A new wave of live streaming apps have been gaining young consumers’ attention—but how are they stacking up against more established social media platforms? Horizon Media’s infographic looks at the state of apps like Meerkat and Periscope, and finds 18-34-year-olds are more likely than older consumers to use them. But while Millennials are also more likely to have heard of these live streaming apps, awareness is still quite low compared to Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine. (Adweek)

The Good Humor man is getting a makeover to appeal to the next generation of ice cream consumers. The brand says they’re changing their trucks to capture the attention of today’s kids, who may be too distracted by devices to hear them coming down the street. In some areas, drivers are being given a more modern dress code, and the now brightly painted trucks’ jingles are being changed to pop hits from artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. (NYPost)

Millennials want to work in tech—specifically for Google. A new report found that tech brands take up the top three spots in the list of places 18-34-year-olds would want to work, with nearly 20% naming Google as their ideal employer, 13% naming Apple, and 9% naming Facebook. Google’s top ranking is fairly unsurprising considering their consistently high marks in employee perks and benefits. (Business Insider)

Emoji are replacing internet slang, infiltrating fashion, and more brands have been creating emoji-centric marketing campaigns in order to appeal to Millennials and teens. Now nonprofit hotline BRIS has launched Abused Emojis, a new emoji alphabet that includes icons for parent drinking, a child being hurt, thinking about death, and other difficult issues. The intention is for kids to use these symbols “to talk about situations where they felt bad or wrongly treated” without having to verbalize their complex problems. (Fast Company)

We give you a dose of insights on young consumers each day, but every quarter, we zoom our lens out to look at some of the larger trends happening with Millennials and teens—and why they matter to brands. Our Gold subscribers have access to the Ypulse Quarterly report, which synthesizes the major trends and stats we’ve seen over the last quarter of the year. We take a close look at the "why behind the what" of big shifts and provide in-action examples and supportive data, along with implications for you to take away. (Ypulse)

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