Media-bodies and screen-births: Cosmetic surgery reality television

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TV Transformations: Revealing the Makeover Show, 2009, 1, pp. 75 - 84
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Cosmetic surgery reality television (CSRTV) is not merely about cosmetic surgery, nor merely about reality television: it is a blend of these two areas and hence both media and bodies must be analysed when examining it. I I suggest that this genre sits at a nexus of transformed bodies that are at once fleshy and digital, three-dimensional and two-dimensional, on the screen and in the living world. Reality television has been derided as exhibitionistic and banal: a sad indictment of 'low' culture at its most superficial. Salman Rushdie famously described it in 2001 as an 'inverted ethical universe [where] worse is better' (2001). However, as other writers, including those in this issue show, it is also meaningfully interactive and empowering for audiences (Roscoe 2001). While it is panoptic - self-regulating, disciplining, normalizing - it is also pleasurable and seductive. Indeed, its 'surveillance is not only tolerated, but frequently sought after' (McQuire 2003, 116). Further, its mass appeal and global reach are important parts of contemporary culture (Andrejevic 2003; Holmes 2004; Huff 2006; Heller 2007).
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