“Strictly Come Dancing and the Postmodern Musical Aesthetic”

Zinder, Paul ORCID: 0000-0002-9578-4009 (2014) “Strictly Come Dancing and the Postmodern Musical Aesthetic”. In: The Guilty Pleasures of Contemporary Television, December 2014, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland. (Unpublished)

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Strictly Come Dancing sits neatly in the Guilty Pleasures category for many viewers due to its postmodern position as a talent show/reality show/Musical hybrid. While many of the series’ segments appear to celebrate and endorse thoughtless entertainment, Strictly actually maintains a structural sophistication hidden by its lightweight facade. In fact, the show stations itself to draw viewers into the “lives” of its contestants by swinging between reality-style segments related to the challenges of ballroom training as well as silly skits that remind the audience that the competition is all in fun, only to shift to Musical performances on the night of each competition. Through a close reading of the show, my paper will explain how the appeal of Strictly Come Dancing lies partly in its dependence on a narrative structure that recalls the classic Hollywood Musical, albeit with a postmodern spin. When Rick Altman defined the Hollywood Film Musical for a generation of scholars as having a double diegesis, he outlined the relationship between the story elements and the musical sequences in the classic film Musical. Altman’s theory can be taken to a new level when applied to Strictly Come Dancing, a series that has proven itself a highly viable substitute for the virtually extinct film Musical genre, by increasing the external audience’s interest in ballroom dancing through a structure I will define as a quadruple diegesis. Strictly’s episodic construction combines Musical sequences (the competitive dancing and special guest musical performances), with narrative (the scripted skits), reality show scenes (the training), and talent show segments (the judging by both internal and external audiences). This complex structure helps to account for the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing, a television series celebrated by a contemporary audience that long ago tired of Hollywood’s attempts to create Musical film fantasies.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Paper presentation formed part of a panel session of the “From Downton to Zombies: The Guilty Pleasures of Contemporary Television”
Uncontrolled Keywords: Popular culture; television
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992-1992.92 Television Broadcasts
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2016 09:10
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 08:00
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3747

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