Watch and be Watched: Desire for Surveillance, Screenborging and Postmodern Fakery In Taiwan’s Local Reality TV


Miao-Ju Jian


Reality TV, Taiwan’s local reality show, media technology, TV Spy


The global rise of the Reality TV genre has generated a new localized viewing pleasure. People, from all over, are now enjoying not only watching but also being watched on Reality TV. In the fantastic age of media convergence, why does the audience like to watch real but sometimes banal people and images portrayed in reality shows? How do media technology, reality, desire and subject interaction dance together in order to shape one another on the formatting stage of reality shows? The case study of Taiwan’s local reality TV, TV Spy (2001-2004, CTV), is a hidden camera based program. It also has what one could call a ‘gotcha’ format. This paper explores the intertwined nature of the observer being observed relationship in reality shows. This article suggests that global reality TV has created a viewer’s desire for surveillance. The format of reality TV generates a more involved audience. The name screenborg has been coined to this effect. It is a co-construction of screen effects and the reactive body of viewers. Furthermore, the special case of Taiwan’s local reality show also represents a postmodern visual culture of fakery, adroitly created by an invisible production line in Taiwan’s local TV industry.