With the ever evolving world of media comes a change towards societal ideologies. As TV has dramatically advanced in the last 15 years from crime and first responder shows to the spectacle of reality TV, so has the public sphere. Once hailed by Habermas as a realm for which public opinion on social, cultural and political views can be shared, modernists are now claiming it has been depredated “by the forces of consumer capitalism”. And what show is bigger and larger than any other reality TV show in Australia? The Biggest Loser of coarse!
Never being a fan of the show I found myself completely drawn in during the latest season finale last night. I “oohed” and “ahhed”, laughed and cried with the rest of the audience at the amazing transformations undergone. The most recent winner Craig had lost 79.8kg throughout the series. A life changing amount weight. The Biggest Loser is one of many shows that trivialises important issues an in this case they are obesity and weight loss.
McKee discusses the impact of relations between media and the public sphere claiming that “only in the mass media that vast populations of people can come together to exchange ideas” If that is the case The Biggest Loser is promoting an unpractical solution to obesity and weight loss that many will not be able to achieve. The contestant who go on this show put their entire lives on hold for months to lose weight. 66% of Australian men are overweight. Imagine of they all decided to ‘take work off’ what would happen to our workforce? It would be severely depleted, that’s what!
The public sphere was evolved to create a sense of freedom and equality. Its fundamental purpose has been exploited with individuals within reality TV shows selfishly exploiting this ideal in order to enhance themselves. Michelle Bridges personality figure has grown tremendously with her appearance upon the show. Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation grew 350% in one year (Fitzsimmons, 2014), assisted by her appearance on the show. No personal grudges against her success, but in context to the structural transformation of the public sphere programs, much like the Biggest Loser, are commercializing it.
I am a strong believer in equality and the right to shares ones opinion but in this new wave of craze TV, including reality shows can make a mockery and abuse this power to manipulate and confuse the audience. The idea of exploiting people struggling with weightless shouldn’t be paraded to this extent. Many people claim the show as a motive to get out and be active! But from experiencing it fro an audiences perspective it mainly promotes entertainment and laughter.
Huijser, H, Little, J, 2008, GetUp! for what? Issues Driven Democracy in a Transforming Public Sphere, Democracy Under Fire: the uses and abuses of democracy in the public sphere, No.16, Viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_16/article_06.shtml
Fitzsimmons, C, 2014, Michelle Bridges’ empire of body transformation, BRW., Viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.brw.com.au/p/marketing/michelle_bridges_empire_of_body_Uhiqs5JDpkfxDWy2Eh78dK
2011, Jürgen Habermas’s Public Sphere explained (summary), The cultural studies reader, viewed 14/4/2014, http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/jurgen-habermass-public-sphere.html