Teaching REALITY TV / UFVA Wrapup


Last night’s banquet at the Omni Parker House marks the end of my very first UFVA conference.

While the panels, lunches, coffee meetings and dinner cruise were memorable, I’ll perhaps remember best the most unnerving moment of the week.

A college professor who’d stopped by my publisher’s table was asked what she taught.  “Film and television, the whole picture,” she proudly replied.

While she browsed the stacks of titles spanning the gamut from animation to YouTube, a copy of Reality TV was offered.  Her reaction was akin to that of someone who’d just been handed a box of decaying fish entrails or a cat-hair-covered cough drop: “Oh, ugh… Ha, ha… I don’t think so, no.”

She wouldn’t even physically handle the book.

“Film and television, the whole picture,” she’d said.  All I could think of were her students who paid money to learn film and TV production that would someday graduate with no knowledge about how an ENTIRE GENRE worked or any idea of how different finding employment is in the one arena you can’t crack by writing a killer spec.

Her hip distaste really bugged me, and I haven’t shaken it yet.  I don’t care if you’re critical of Reality TV — hey, there’s a lot of it I don’t like, either — but you can’t will it away because you’d rather teach a class on Jim Jarmusch.

Prospective film and tv students out there, ask your admissions reps if reality television is covered in their overall program.  If it isn’t, you’re only getting HALF the picture.

Professors, please check out the free syllabus for the book at http://www.mwp.com.  Whether you adopt it or not, at least grab a copy and familiarize yourself with the basics.  Help your students to broaden their skill sets and become as employable as possible through a broad knowledge of ALL genres, including reality.

You owe it to them.

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