In an era when identity is a hybrid process, it is interesting to examine whether and how it is possible to glean the presence or absence of certain cultural groups from their representations in a given culture. To do so, I employ two key Gramscian concepts: common sense and good sense. Using three research reports (from 2003, 2005, and 2011) that employed content analysis techniques, this article assesses the visibility of various subgroups in Israeli TV programs and majority-minority power relations in a variety of genres on commercial channels in the prime-time slot. This article focuses on three aspects of identity: nationality, ethnicity, and gender.
This article examines how regular viewers of the reality program Big Brother interpret the program in Israel. The findings of the study reveal that viewers emphasize the formal characteristics of the program stimulate them in a way that other reality programs do not. The interviewees report the program influences them in three ways: excessive preoccupation about personal reflexivity (talking with the televisual other), an experience of inundation, and the development of a new desire: “the desire to be discovered.” These three influences connect personal reflexivity to, inter alia, actions aligned with social control and the ideal-cultural self, which are at the foundation of psychological and neoliberal discourses.
The Israeli television series Mehubarot (Connected, 2009) follows five Israeli women who use their performance before the camera—through both visual and spoken texts—as a means of biographical representation which blends public and private aspects of their daily lives. This article examines the use of spoken language as a central tool for signaling sincerity and closeness on the series’ visual stage, focusing on the unique setting of Israeli society and the exclusive genre of a televised diary in its written and spoken modes.
Unlike blogs or videos uploaded to the internet, which are contemporary precedents for this kind of intimate exposure in the public arena, the genre under discussion relies on established conventions of television and cinema to convey intimacy. Mehubarot is inspired by documentaries and films that use voiceover as an established device for informing the viewers of the characters’ thoughts. In its methods of presenting the “diaries,” the series also adopts patterns of confession and exposure commonly used in televised platforms that follow ongoing projects of identity construction, and frequently present them as journeys of self-discovery and personal development. Following a discussion of the series’ unique features, the article’s second part focuses on the journalist Dana Spector and the contradictory readings of her private-public identity, social and family identity, and “celebrity” identity in their transfer from the newspaper column to the television arena.
Sociological interest in popular culture has contributed much to our understanding of heroes and celebrities as promoted by the media in a macro-cultural sense. However, knowledge of how individuals interpret these processes and the characters promoted thereby is lacking. Based on 44 group interviews with Jewish adolescents in 12 Israeli high schools, this study explores youth attitudes toward heroes and celebrities, including how they are differentiated from one another, and the cultural, social, and personal meanings associated with them. In contrast to prevalent social conceptions, and offering a differing focus from that of previous research, this article argues that the characters promoted by the media have little meaning for adolescents. Moreover, adolescents view celebrity worship as a phenomenon that threatens one’s identity. A few celebrities do gain the title of hero, however, thus shifting the traditional dichotomy between hero and celebrity toward a more nuanced position on the continuum. These findings undermine the moral panic accompanying celebrity worship and the place of celebrities in adolescents’ lives, and challenge the analytical hero-celebrity dichotomy.