chapter  9
12 Pages

Blowing chunks: Fear Factor, reality television and abjection as a disciplinary practice

WithScott Wilson

The abject, I believe, has a central, pivotal and vital function within the reality television

genre. From those families at the very bottom of the American dream who can only be

publicly salvaged by large-scale community intervention, to self-professed ugly ducklings

seeking surgery to become the swans they desire; from gold-digging inge


nues who

inadvertently reveal their capriciousness (gloriously aligning themselves with an abjected

social position in the eyes of a critical audience) through to anxious young men who

punish, punk and prank each others’ bodies in a homoerotic frenzy, reality television

clutches the possibility of abject material and abject experience to its ratings-conscious

bosom and translates viewer anxiety into commercial gold.