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Console-ing Passions

TV Socialism

Anikó Imre
Anikó Imre

Anikó Imre is Associate Professor and Chair of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe.

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Duke University Press
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Book Chapter

Postsocialist Ethno-Racial Reality TV

June 2016

This chapter concludes part I on genres of realism by returning to the comparison between socialist reality-based educational programs and the global reality formats that have flooded postsocialist screens since the early 1990s. While socialist programming revolved around the white, male citizen as the center of a taken-for-granted nationalism, reality TV has put minority characters in the spotlight. The chapter examines how celebrity reality television has exploded postsocialist national racial regimes. In particular, it has disclosed the unspoken role assigned to the Roma to mark the whiteness of nations from the inside and the role assigned to “foreign” racial minorities to safeguard it from the outside. The chapter begins with the methodological difficulties that confront a joint discussion of race and popular postsocialist reality TV. Then it contextualizes the racial and class discourses that circulate within and around the rise of Roma celebrity through an analysis of the wildly popular Hungarian show Győzike and its national reception. Finally, it discusses the recent appearance of black African celebrities on reality television and the distinct racial positions they occupy in relation to the Roma and to the white moral majority.

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