“Reality Goes Pop!”: Reality TV, Popular Music, and Narratives of Stardom in Pop Idol
The reality pop programs Popstars(broadcast in 2000 in the United Kingdom) and Pop Idol (broadcast in 2001-2002 in the United Kingdom) have occupied a central place in the phenomenal rise of reality TV. More specifically, with their bid to place the entire notion of stardom at center stage, they raise important methodological and theoretical issues concerning the conceptualization of fame in reality TV. A central emphasis of the article is the importance of considering how reality TV demands a more thorough engagement with existing critical and theoretical concepts if the form is to sustain long-term academic analysis. Taking the British series of Pop Idolas the primary focus, the author explores this with respect to the concept of stardom, drawing particularly on the work of Richard Dyer and John Ellis. Pop Idol also raises crucial questions about the politics of interactivity in reality TV, a power dynamic that is ultimately configured around the program’s mediation of stardom.