Chasing Cameron – Reality TV or Documentary?

I initially decided to watch Chasing Cameron because I think that it is important to understand how the digital space is evolving.   The documentary mini-series is also a format that is gaining traction and has also piqued my interest lately.  I have to say that this series really wasn’t what I was expecting.  It was transparent and didn’t always display Cameron in the best light which gave the series air of honesty.  The other side of that is that some of the drama and the individual interviews that were used as voiceover felt really staged and had me questioning the authenticity of the experience.

Overall the story was structured in such a way that I wanted to keep watching.  I had no idea that social media influencers had become such a big deal.  Watching Cameron’s story left me thinking that these boys might be replacing the traditional boy band.  That it’s possible that people might start to exploit young people who want to be like these people.  Similar to how agencies promised acting and modeling fame to the young people of my generation.  Think back to that horrible Rebecca Black video that was paid for under the promises of fame from the agency.  It opened a door and left me wanting to know more about just how this leg of the media industry works.  It put something on the radar that I had not previously considered.

The point that stuck out for me was the fact that one of the boys refused to participate in the meet and greet portions citing that he felt the girls didn’t get a quality amount of time with everyone for the amount of money that they pay.  As someone who has paid for this experience, I have to say that I agree with that.  However, I had no idea how taxing it is for the celebrities that are standing in the lines.  Does that justify the price?  To a certain extent, I think so. It would be physically impossible for them to meet everyone willing to purchase a ticket to their show so charging a separate admission for this activity is necessary in order to keep it to a number that isn’t going to harm the performer’s health.  I don’t really believe that it justifies the price that some people are asking.  A quick internet search reveals that some A-list stars are asking thousands of dollars.  Not all fans are going to come from a higher income bracket and they are making themselves less accessible to the people that give them their success.

I’d like to take a second to examine the documentary mini-series genre as a whole.  After watching this series I think that this is really the best way for Netflix to tap into the vibe that gave internet content such success in the first place – personal connection.  These mini-series allow a filmmaker to dive a little deeper into a topic creating a richer picture of the themes.  That emotional connection is in the details of the story and I honestly believe that internet personalities are so popular because people want to feel like they are connecting with something authentic.  But there is a fine line between documentary and reality television.  A documentary is supposed to be informative, reality television thrives on the drama.  Chasing Cameron did a great job of establishing credibility for social media influencers but there were definitely parts of it that leaned towards the second category.  If Netflix isn’t careful they might find themselves producing the next generation of reality television.  I think the explosion of that type of programming on the traditional broadcast stations is part of what led to its decline.  If the quality of Netflix originals starts to slip, they won’t be able to stay on top for long.

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