Live recording held at the café at AS220 at 5:30 p.m on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.
1971 An American Family; Our First Reality TV Show What’s Real, What’s Not? Does Anybody Care?
When Directors Alan and Susan Raymond put their cameras–and us–into the lives of an upper middle class white family from Santa Barbara, California, the schisms in the American family became readily apparent. What was revealed in 1973 was not Leave it to Beaver. What was introduced was, well, unreal…or was it?
With panelists Susan and Alan Raymond, Brown Media Studies Professor Lynne Joyrich and Brown History Professor Robert Self, author of American Babylon, we will look at how TV changed through the popularity of An American Family.
With the current proliferation of reality TV, with its ‘reality’ which often seems quite suspect, we will wonder what accounts for its popularity, whether or not An American Family can be seen as its direct ancestor and ask for what it might be preparing us.
Here is a chance to look more deeply at a subject that sits with us in our living rooms, brought to you by an American family that allowed us to sit in theirs.
Listen to Marc Levitt’s phone interview with Bill and Pat Loud, October 2011 (28,5 minutes)
Alan and Susan Raymond are Academy Award-winning filmmakers whose work influenced and changed the landscape of American television. In 1971, as the filmmakers of the seminal 1973 PBS cinema verite series An American Family, the Raymonds captured the daily life of the Loud family and forever changed the vision of the American family on television. Many of Alan and Susan Raymond’s films are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Paley Center for Media and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, in Paris. The Raymonds have created feature length documentaries about dyslexia, schools in the era of No Child Left Behind, children at war and the rise of Elvis Presley. They have been selected for the Television Academy Archives as Emmy TV Legends and received The International Documentary Association Pioneer Award in 2010 for their body of work. Their films have been broadcast on PBS, ABC News, HBO, and the BBC.
Robert Self teaches and writes about twentieth-century U.S. history. His principal research interests are in urban history, the history of race and American political culture, post-1945 U.S. society and culture, and gender in the mid-century city. His first book, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland, was published by Princeton University Press in 2003. It won four professional prizes, including the James A. Rawley prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH). He is currently at work on a book about gender, sexuality, and political culture in the U.S. from 1964 to 2004.
Lynne Joyrich is associate professor of Modern Culture and Media where she has taught film and television studies, as well as gender and sexuality studies, since 1999. She is the author of Re-viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1996) and of a number of articles and book chapters on film, television, feminist, queer, and cultural studies in various journals and anthologies. She is also a co-editor and member of the editorial collective of the media and cultural studies journal Camera Obscura.
- Better Living Through Reality TV, edited by Laurie Oulette and James Hay; Blackwell Publishing 2008
- Reality TV; The Work of Being Watched by Mark Andrejevic; Rowan and Littlefield 2004
- An American Family; A Televised Life by Jeffrey Ruoff; University of Minnesota 2004