Reality TV 101

Reality television shows continue to have a hold on a large percentage of the population. However, those unexperienced with the TV genre usually have a hard time understanding what the pull is to enjoy such shows.

When starting to form your addiction to reality TV, there are three things to realize and consider.

1. Reality TV does not necessarily mean “real”

One of the first things to realize when starting down the reality television rabbit hole is that reality TV is not all truthful. Reality TV is an exaggerated version of the subject’s real life. There are elements based in truth but to keep ratings up, the situations and reactions are dramatized. However, the emotions felt by the stars are commonly felt by the viewers, which keeps the watcher wanting to come back each week to know what is happening in this stranger’s life.

Using this knowledge, let’s look at a scene in “The Kardashians”. In this scene, Kendall Jenner is upset that her sister, Kylie Jenner, is wearing an outfit that she herself planned to wear. Her reaction is a little dramatic to most viewers. Having to borrow a different outfit for one night is not world-ending; however, the reaction is one that is common in “normal” households. There is a stereotype that sisters fight over when their clothes are stolen by each other. Kendall was just showcasing that relatable emotion.

Watching reality TV is so enticing to people because it is a way to watch something relatable yet not mundane. The families and stars are specifically chosen because there is a novelty to them. That novelty continues from those stars being a little more extreme than those not in the spotlight. The elaborate parties, houses and ways of living keep the sense of fantasy to those watching.

The “real” in reality TV means real people. However, in front of the camera, the stars may be more dramatic. Having fun, dramatic and surprising lives are what makes them their money, so those elements have to be found in each episode. The lives these stars live are real, but with more stardom, money and recognition, come more problems and a dramatic lifestyle.

2. Editing is essential

In each piece of reality television, editing is heavily used. Each episode is created with an end goal in mind which is accomplished by editing the scene in a specific way. Editing is what makes the stars look how the producer wants them for the ratings on the show. Editing is also what helps the show feel more dramatic and, therefore, more enticing for viewers.

This intentional editing is why most people find reality TV “fake,” but this editing is essential. Not only do shows need to be cut down to fit the time slot for airing, but they need to have suspense so viewers keep coming back.

In the “Bachelor” franchise, the editing of each contest paints them in either a good light or a bad one. Based on the goals of the producers and the team, the editing can influence what the viewers know and think of each person in the show. Without this editing, the contestant would seem boring and not interesting enough to hold screen time. Most people watch television to escape their mundane life, so the show needs to be edited in order to fit the wants of the viewers.

Before watching reality TV, the viewer needs to know that they are not seeing everything that happens on and off the camera. They are getting the highlights of a competition or a person’s life.

3. Reality tv producers have power

The producers of reality television shows have a lot of power that many people don’t recognize. These producers can craft plot lines, have a say in who is eliminated, and control the way the show is edited. Producers have a bigger hand than just funding a show. They get an end-all say when it comes to competition reality shows. It is written in contracts that the producers have the final say, not the judges.

Producers also have a hand in crafting plot lines. They can influence contestants to act in a certain way or control the editing so that a person is highlighted in a way to help ratings. The producers have more influence than most viewers realize. Their control lessens the “realness,” but the base of the show is real and untouched by the producers.

It is important to realize this type of television is not a documentary. Reality TV is for entertainment. Reality TV might not always be the most practical or believable shows, but they are entertaining, relatable and addicting.

Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ is good, but is it great?

The wait is finally over, Taylor Swift released her new album Oct. 21. Without fail, she continues to keep her fans on their toes by releasing her first pop album since 2019, “Midnights.”

It is no surprise that Swift’s new album is relatable, aesthetic and much anticipated, but is it what the “Swifties” expected? While “Midnights” has skyrocketed to the top of the global charts within a matter of days, there seems to have been mixed emotions around the album.

Swift has had a productive past few years from her 2020 albums “folklore” and “evermore,” to her second re-recorded album, “Red (Taylor’s Version)“.

I have always loved Swift, but I was very impressed by her “folklore” and “evermore” albums specifically. The lyrics to each song were bold, impactful and well-thought-through to say the least. I have thoroughly analyzed a handful of Swift’s music and have truly come to appreciate the talent and energy that is put into creating these albums.

Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics of Swift’s songs from “Midnights” still have the same heartfelt lyrics, but it was not what I expected it to be. Although the album is identified under the pop genre, it seems to almost be having an identity crisis like she is trying to bounce back from her past two alternative albums.

Some might say this style of song is “unique” or another example of Swift trying something new, but I found it difficult to listen to the majority of the songs for over a minute. However, the two songs that did catch my eye were “Snow on The Beach” and “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” Both of these songs are an example of what Swift is capable of crafting with her storytelling lyrics and talented vocals.

An article by Alyssa Bailey states: “Taylor Swift’s fifth track on Midnights, “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” quickly became a fan favorite following the album’s release. The song features some of the singer-songwriter’s most brutal, personal lyrics about her own journey navigating fame, love, and the people she has lost and gained over the years.”

Lyrics such as: “everything you lose is a step you take” and “from sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes” are just two examples of Swift’s heart-wrenching, relatable lyrics.

On the other hand, I did not skip one song when I listened to “folklore.” In 2020, this album was streamed over 80 million times and broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day for an album by a female artist on Spotify.

An article by Quinn Moreland states: “On 2020’s Folklore and Evermore, Swift stepped away from autobiographical songwriting and found new depths of feelings in fictional narratives. For perhaps the first time in a career built on curated lyrical blood telling, she gave herself the gift of emotional distance. With Midnights, she returns to a diaristic style, addressing the central conflict of Taylor Swift, the individual and the persona: She’s self consciously to a fault but rarely self-aware.”

In other words, there is a visible difference between Swift’s past and current albums for better or worse. It’s not out of the ordinary for Swift to explore the different types of songwriting and styles, but is it worth it? I’m not saying “Midnightscouldn’t grow on me, but I think I will stick with her older albums.

Despite the backlash Swift may receive, she will continue to shock her “Swifties” with each album release and will continue doing what is best for her and her career. Even though I didn’t love Swift’s “Midnights” album, it won’t stop me from going to her “Eras Tour” to enjoy the rest of her music.

HOT TAKE | “Twilight” is shamefully underrated

An ordinary teenage girl, a sparkly-skinned killer and a big wolf. An iconic movie portraying the greatest love triangle ever created set in a world full of mythical beings: “Twilight.” 

With this month marking its 14th birthday, not only is it one of the most underrated movies to exist. It’s also one of the best movies to capture multiple genres of film including romance, fantasy, drama, horror and comedy. 

Despite the negative feelings critics may have toward the casting choice, the acting and the plot, the movie itself is an amazing piece of art. Why? Well, because it gives the audience multiple love interests to admire, a glimpse into the awkward stage of a teenager, a unique take on supernatural creatures, and some of the funniest TikToks to this day. 

Whether you are “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob,” the story behind the Cullens and the Blacks make for the perfect love triangle. Their feud and hate for each other added to the drama of the cinematic piece allowing the audience to choose the side they feel best suited Bella. Of course, we were all “Team Jacob” because of his looks, but deep down, we knew “Team Edward” would inevitably win.

Of course, the triangle didn’t fully develop until the following movies, but “Twilight” gave us enough of a plot to foreshadow that maybe there could be something between Bella and Jacob. It made the movie more exciting and gave the fans something to hope for. 

Something else we hoped for was a good romance story and “Twilight” did not disappoint. Part of growing up means falling in love, and Bella did just this in a slightly more awkward way than most. Although some may argue the cast was extremely awkward, that is how they were meant to be. We are talking about actress Kristen Stewart and actor Robert Pattinson. Both were extremely capable of delivering better performances, but that is not what the directors and writers had intended.

Instead, the awkwardness of the characters only made them more relatable. It allowed us to laugh, cringe and cry. It reminded us that falling in love doesn’t always look pretty and helped us fall in love more deeply with the characters. 

Speaking of the characters, I can’t think of any other storyteller that describes vampires and werewolves in the way author Stephenie Meyers did. From what we’ve been told, vampires hate garlic and sleep in coffins. Werewolves only transform on full moons and can turn others into monsters with a single bite. Meyers’ take on her supernatural beings was unique and one we hadn’t seen yet. 

Her vampires sparkled in the sunlight and never had to sleep. They could choose to be vegetarians, and many of the vampires in “Twilight” had special powers such as mind reading and the ability to see into the future. 

Meyers’ werewolves turned whenever they couldn’t control their anger. When they did turn, they still were able to think and communicate with other wolves in their pack allowing them to keep their human consciousness.

Of course, this is all mythically speaking, but her invention of the new vampire and the new werewolf made the movie unpredictable. It taught the audience there is more to these beings than what we’ve been taught which added to the creativity of the movie. 

The creativity of the movie was shown throughout the entire plot. It was serious when it needed to be, it was scary when it needed to be, and it was definitely funny when it needed to be. 

“Twilight” introduced fans to many hilarious scenes such as spider monkey, Edward’s tantrum and Bella’s Scent. These scenes and many more allowed the audience to enjoy the comedic side of the movie while still appreciating its seriousness.

Now, 14 years later, its iconic sounds and scenes have blown up all over TikTok with over 18 billion views under #Twilight. TikTok users have created videos reenacting Twilight scenes, reacting to them, making their own point of views, and even editing clips of some of our favorite characters. It’s safe to say, people are still fans of the “Twilight” franchise to this day.

No movie is perfect, but that’s what makes it great. At the end of the day, people will still hate on “Twilight,” but it’s simply because they don’t understand it. They don’t appreciate the thought that went into making this film stand out from the rest or the hard work that went into making it a classic. 

About three things I am absolutely positive. First, Twilight is underrated. Second, there was a part of that movie — and I didn’t know how dominant that part may be — that thirsted for my praise. And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Twilight.

Remembering the legacy of Odyssey’s “Thriller” at Tuacahn

The end is near for Odyssey Dance Theatre’s “Thriller.”

“Thriller” is a Halloween show put on every year for the last 26 years. It showcases talented dancers from all over the state. Some characters in the show include Frankenstein’s Monsters, Chucky dolls and Annabelle. That’s right multiple Annabelle dolls coming after you make for a thrilling show. Many scares and laughs have been shared and will be missed.

Odyssey founder and artistic director Derryl Yeager and his wife, costume designer/costume production director Cheryl Yeager, are the creators of the sold-out show “Thriller.”

In 1994 they wanted to provide a community for dancers to stay in their home state while becoming dancers for a professional dance company. Yeager and his wife brought many dancers’ memories to be cherished forever. They will be moving on to a new chapter in their life and this will conclude the last season of “Thriller.”

Utah Tech University’s very own Odyssey dance alumni, Aaron Meadows is one of these dancers. Meadows is now the director of Utah Tech’s campus store. He trained with Odyssey dance company starting in 2001. He then got to perform in “Thriller” each season being many different characters and learning almost all of the dance routines at some point in his career. His favorite acts include, “Frankenstein and Frankenstein” and “Thriller Bear.”

Meadows had many performances but his all-time favorite “Thriller” performance was when he had to go on for the “river and blood” dance shirtless because the main actor was out, and Meadows was the replacement. This happened at one of the shows early on when “Thriller” was just starting and only toured high schools and Kingsbury Hall. Meadows has been in it from the start and has seen the show progress from the beginning.

Kingsbury Hall was one of Meadow’s favorite places to perform since it was his dream from the start to see himself on that stage. Getting to finally perform on stage and not just in the audience was a dream come true for him.

“Thriller helped me grow up,” Meadows said.

Meadows, being an Odyssey dance alumni, has seen the success the Yeagers brought to many dancers. With starting a professional company so young, he got to learn to be on his own while having the show be his way of living life. “Thriller” gave Meadows friendships and the start of his new life on his own.

“I’m happy for the next chapter, but it’s sad for the rest of us,” Meadows said.

Seeing the “end is near” written up on the stage at the last “Thriller” performance set the audience up to live in the last moments. This show means a lot to not just dancers but families all across the state. The scares and laughs are happening one last time Oct. 31st on Halloween night at St. George’s very own Tuacahn Center for the Arts amphitheater.

Brindee Heaton, a dancer from St. George, has danced in the show “Thriller” since 2015. She first started as a young dancer in the “Chucky” act then worked her way up to now play the part of a zombie. Heaton is still currently a dancer in the show at Tuacahn and has loved playing the part of a zombie.

“My all-time favorite part about performing in the show is all the scaring I get to do as a zombie,” Heaton said.

She loves interacting with the audience and making the show come to life. “Thriller” is a fantastic performance and getting the interaction from the dancers up close even just in the aisles is what makes Thriller unforgettable.

“Whenever I am backstage watching the show, I am always amazed by how every act brings Halloween to life,” Heaton said.

The mummies, zombies, Frankenstein, scarecrows, and Bubbles the clown will be getting a rest after showcasing this classic production for 26 years. Many scares and laughs have been shared but will not be forgotten.

Top 5 best horror movies of 2022

October is almost over and with Halloween right around the corner, we are in peak horror movie season.

Whether you’re looking for a thrilling, bone-chilling movie, fun night with friends or simply a good movie to watch, there’s something for everyone. There have been plenty of horror movies released this year, some have hit the horror movie standards to a tee, and others have missed it by a mile.

#5 “Scream (2022)”

Now, I’ll be honest with you, “Scream (2022)” was not my favorite movie. It was a nod to the classic series that seems to be never ending much like the Halloween movies. The ratings; however, don’t lie. With an 82% audience rating, it was loved by most. It brings back the nostalgia of the old movies; showing the producers aren’t afraid to call back to the past in a unique way. Going onto the fifth movie, though, you can tell the franchise is working harder than ever to keep the series alive.

25-years after a streak of brutal murders shocks the residents of Woodsboro; a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and resumes that streak. “Scream (2022)” is smart, but it lacks a heroine and a plot capable of making the audience scream. As the series comes full circle, it’s easy to compare it to past movies and find the thrill lackluster.

We live in an era of remakes where we see almost all of our childhood movies being brought back to life in a different way. Some movies, though, should stay in the past. While “Scream (2022)” won’t go down in history for being a great horror movie, it is undeniably laughable and that is enough to make the movie worth watching.

#4 “The Black Phone”

“The Black Phone”, released on June 24, 2022, is a must-watch for any fan of horror. With a thrilling plot, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. When a shy, young boy is kidnapped and thrown in the basement of a sadistic killer, he discovers he can hear his past victims through the phone on the wall. If that alone isn’t enough to garner your interest, are you really a horror fan? Critics and audience alike both loved it enough to gain an 82% from critics and an 88% from audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

While the movie had amazing cinematography and terrific acting, it did kind of rush into things. We don’t get to simmer in the suspense at the beginning wondering what’s going to happen. We’re only given a short introduction and backstory of the main character, Finney, and then thrown right into the thick of it.

While it had the physical scares of any horror movie, “The Black Phone” went even further and tapped into psychological horror by tapping into all of our most primal fears. The realism this movie involves of being kidnapped and held captive in a basement is already scary enough to most of us, but then they go and add in fictional horror as well.

If you’re looking for a good, thrilling movie to spend your Halloween night watching, this is definitely a good option.

#3 “Barbarian”

Released on Sept. 9, 2022, “Barbarian” is an unpredictable, chilling movie that is sure to give you a thrill. Starring our favorite clown from the movie, “IT”, Bill Skarsgård makes another comeback into the horror world.

“Barbarian”, just like “The Black Phone”, taps into some of our more primal fears in life. When a young woman rents an AirBNB on her way to a job interview, she doesn’t expect to see anyone else there. Especially not a strange man who claims they got double-booked for the night. While that may turn anyone away from the small house, she doesn’t have anywhere else to go, so what choice does she have? No one could know there’s much more dwelling in the small house than a strange man.

I’d say the less you know about this movie, the better, but prepare yourself for an ending that might shock you. As soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, the movie turns the completely different direction. There’s a never-ending thrill sure to give you some whiplash from all the twists and turns.

With a 92% critic rating and 70% audience rating, this one isn’t as popular with people as other films. The way the movie is filmed might be a cause for an audience turn-away, but if you stick with it, it’s sure to be worth it. With good acting, great camera work and lighting, this movie will offer a slow-burn thriller capable of giving you a great movie night with your friends come Halloween night.

#2 “X”

“X”, released March 18, 2022, offers a great spin on a classic slasher movie. Based in 1979, a group of young filmmakers find shelter with an elderly couple in rural Texas. With the goal of creating an adult film, this group of filmmakers don’t expect to fight for their lives after the couple hosting them discovers what they are doing.

While “X” isn’t every horror fan’s typical movie to turn to, it’s unique and definitely won’t bore you. It’s a daring movie filled with unexpected twists and horrifying realizations. The cinematography does an excellent job of capturing the ’70s aesthetic without making it seem too fake. It effortlessly fits into the decade and even feels like a nod to past classics like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

If you’re looking for a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, gruesome movie, this is the one for you. It won’t be what you’re expecting. That’s what most people have thought about the movie, garnering only a 75% audience rating. If you put your expectations aside, though, you may be pleasantly surprised and enjoy a good, original slasher movie.

#1 “Smile”

Coming in at #1 on my list of horror movies of 2022 brings “Smile”, released Sept. 30, 2022. If you’re into slow-burn, deeply unsettling movies, you are sure to leave this movie with a smile. Within the exploration of deep-seated trauma, “Smile” delves into a psychological horror sure to leave you shaking in your seat. This movie is capable to getting into your head and staying there.

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic event with a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter starts experiences terrifying occurrences she can’t find an explanation to. As her fear worsens, she’s forced to confront trauma from her past in order to survive and escape her horrifying reality.

Complete with incredible cinematography and excellent acting, “Smile” is a movie that will shock you with twists you won’t see coming. It’s definitely a movie you’ll want to pay attention to in order to understand, but it will be so worth it at the end. Coming in at a 78% audience rating and 79% critic rating, it’s hard not to get sucked into the plot of this sinister world.

This fast-paced movie offers no peace throughout the almost two-hour long film. You will be on the edge of your seat and leaned so far back into the cushion to get away from the horrors of the screen. If you’re looking for a truly terrifying movie to get sucked into on Halloween, this is the one to watch.

OPINION | She-Hulk is proof that the MCU is in an awkward place

I remember when I was excited about the surplus of Disney+ shows coming from Marvel, but now I can’t help but dread what comes next out of concern for my sanity.

“Avengers: Endgame” was such an incredible end to a saga over a decade in the making. At least, that’s what it should have been. I would like to think Marvel has a new “Endgame” in mind, but “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law”, along with “Thor: Love and Thunder,” continues a trend of taking characters with fantastic dramatic beats and tarnishing it with the “everything needs to be funny” motif that Marvel’s been going through recently.

It’s akin to a teenager trying to find their clique in middle school. How do they do it? By attempting to make people laugh to the point that it becomes annoying. I should know, I was one of those kids. She-Hulk and Thor are the same in that regard. Instead of putting a focus on character development, they go for unfunny recurring gags (looking at you screaming goats).

Is it funny? Sometimes yeah. Will I remember it in two weeks? No, in fact, I’ve forgotten what we were talking about already.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) has the potential to be a great character. However, I can’t take her seriously if one moment she’s defending The Abomination in court, and then twerking with Megan Thee Stallion in one of the most cringe-worthy sequences I’ve ever seen put on a screen.

It’s not like Marvel isn’t capable of writing characters that can be funny as well as have incredible dramatic moments. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a perfect example of a balance well struck in both character and comedy.

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been nothing but filler to me. We have slight glimpses into the overarching story that marvel is trying to tell. The problem is that the plot of the films/Disney+ shows themselves are usually of zero consequence to the overall story.

Who knows, maybe “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” will manage to end on a high note. There are hints of a story about responsibility and being yourself, but so far, it’s a “Deadpool” wannabe in tone, and a “Shrek” looking CGI crunch-fest in reality.

I can only hope that 2022 ends with a bang for the MCU in honor of Chadwick Boseman with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Because heaven only knows what will happen if they mess that up.