Hyperexhibitionism and hyperadaptation

Are casting shows and myspace related phanomena??

The fourth season "germany searches for the superstar" (DSDS) came to an end on saturday – and the show still had good ratings, even though after consistently unsuccessful "winners" that by now even the last fool has realized that you can’t win a superstar with these casting shows "superstar" becomes. So why is there still a demand for this format – not only for viewers, but also for candidates??

Potential DSDS successor format: the animal documentary "who will be queen bee?" photo: los alamos national laboratory

Consumption of the spectacle, which has become a cultural duty, is truly not a pleasure: it makes you feel bad, uncomfortable and creepy. But why did this happen with a format that was not meant to be feared at all? After all, no one was killed, silenced, abused.. … But wait – really not? It was pop music that was cruelly murdered and turned into a carpenter’s apprenticeship by three wicked fairies.

Pop music, which was characterized by fool’s liberty in the 1960s and 70s, was run on the bertelsmann show like a mixture of cargo cult, apprenticeship and basic bundeswehr training. Including submissive "trainees", brassy jokes of the "master craftsmen" (jury) with forced laughter for the apprentices and – especially disgusting – forced self-criticism ("were you satisfied with yourself?").

In america there was already at the beginning of the reagan years in films like flashdance and A chorus line this ideological connection of voluntary humiliation and success in an entertainment machinery – a kind of passion play, which paul verhoeven put on with his masterpiece showgirls from the head to the legs.

Before the casting show craze, german television viewers were familiar with such scenes mainly from documentaries about the third reich, in which young people talk about how important it is that they be properly trained in labor and military service "rannimmt." so it was quite fitting that the DSDS judge of the first hour, record boss thomas M. Stein said that "the path that the war had cut into the german musical landscape was now overgrown." according to stein, however, the new technological achievements threatened this development he had cherished. So he demanded more comprehensive monopoly rights, so that culturally it would be more like in the third reich again.

System of subjugation

The participants of the fourth season were all interchangeable examples of this degeneration from art to craft, no matter if they were lisa bund, martin stosch or mark medlock. None of the candidates jockeyed for their assigned role as an "apprentice." even the one who was "rebel" sold max buskohl could not break the system of subjugation, but only changed the master, who then took over from the rapper dr. Violence the idea of the verhohnung by means of schleyer poster took over – only less amusingly.

But not only DSDS, but also the other casting shows spread this ambience. There was heidi klum, for example, with her model show, which proved that even a rhinelander can look like a ukrainian village whore. There, model candidate fiona blackballed two competitors for allegedly "were no longer in the mood for the whole show." she was praised for that, the other two were taken to task and reprimanded. The theme of the casting shows was ultimately interchangeable – the main thing was to follow the rules.

These re-education camps with a focus on brainwashing seemed to produce two new personality types: candidates either engaged in total hyper-conformism, smooth to the nano-subtlety – or they behaved in a particularly bizarre way and were then paraded by the station as if in a freak show. Was it really just youth unemployment that drove teenagers to do this – or was there more to it than that??

"Invisible audiences"

Research emily nussbaum did on the myspace phenomenon suggests that it may be the potential for sustained observation that leads to mass behavioral change. Nussbaum noticed that not only myspace can boast a remarkably high acceptance rate among teenagers, but that many teenagers also became voluntary participants in reality TV shows. She concluded that this generation may have a completely different idea of privacy – which could be due to the fact that american teenagers have already fully internalized the disappearance of privacy: there are surveillance cameras everywhere, every access and payment transaction allows the exact tracking of a person’s activities, every email, every phone call, can be tracked by providers and. Life is public – whether you want it to be or not.

This effect could psychologically explain the phenomenon of hyperexhibitionism in social communities as well as in casting shows – but where does the other component, hyperadaptation, come from?? On the one hand, it can be explained in economic terms – see reagan musicals and the reich labor service. On the other hand, it could also originate from a phenomenon that the media scientist danah boyd "invisible audiences" called: according to this theory, self-representation as a mass phenomenon alters personhood because the "authentic" the style and content of our presentations are increasingly geared to an imagined audience – like zoo animals that get peanuts every now and then when they feel particularly good "species-appropriate" behave. A conformist effect of the culture industry that not even adorno could have dreamed of.

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