Children’s media engagement in the U.K.: a case of Got to Dance audiences and performers

2016. Children’s media engagement in the U.K.: a case of Got to Dance audiences and performers. International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). University of Leicester 27 Jul 2016

TitleChildren’s media engagement in the U.K.: a case of Got to Dance audiences and performers

This study is a part of 3 year Media experience project led by Professor Annette Hill in Lund University. The project explores different types of programmes such as Masterchef, The Bridge, The Act of Killing and Utopia to understand the production values and audiences’ experiences around the programmes. In this paper, Got To Dance which is a dance competition programme within the reality TV genre. Research methods used were interviewing the production team and performers, and audiences who came to the live shows and auditions in London and participant observation at the venues (Olympia and Round House in 2014). By conducting highly inductive study, we explored the audiences, performers, and the production team. In this paper, children including teens will be focused. The paper will discuss the variety of engagement based on the programme.
Annette Hill (2005) discusses the aspect of ‘learning’ and ethics of care through reality TV programmes, and performing the self from Goffman (1959 in Hill 2015). These elements can be seen in the children who were watching the programme and came to the live event. Based on her conceptual work, this study expanded how children in the digital age engage with this programme and their everyday life. The children are from the middle and working classes, especially this paper will focus on children from working class families and areas. The programme appears to emphasise its main theme that ordinary people can be a star as their logo, showing clips kids dancers from council flats or an autistic boy for kids’ performers’ introduction. Spoiled identity (Goffman 1963) can be transformed to a successful star (Best 2012). We also found that the schools encouraged them to go on the auditions instead of taking SATS. Although this entertainment programme was not meant to educate audiences, it provides rich ‘learning’ aspects. As Livingstone and Das (2009) argue if it is the end of audiences in our digital life, the children who watched the show can be seen as ‘performers’ and ‘users’ rather than being merely ‘audiences’. Inspired by the programme, they searched the programme and get some tips for dance from their favourite contestants’ clips via Sky’s youtube channel. They also show sympathy for some children’s performers by cheering the at the venue and social media, and also go to dance schools who often send children to those talent shows and theatres.
It is a rare ‘family viewing programme’ which is different from officially called ‘educational programmes’ on BBC2. However, through the programme, we witnessed the dynamic of audiences’ engagement and activities and some issues around this.

KeywordsChildren and the media, reality TV show, stigma
ConferenceInternational Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
Web address (URL) of conference proceedings

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