Convergence culture: Top Model Series

SMS voting for Australia’s Next Top Model:

Top Model series was originated from Tyra Bank’s reality show “America’s Next Top Model.” The theme of the show is about how ordinary girls become top models through the competition. The winner could receive a model contract and can have a chance to enter fashion industry. Through the show, the contestants will face many challenges such as photo shoots and walking on the stage. The America’s Top Next Model now has some international versions, such as Australia’s next top model or Brazil’s Next Top Model.

The ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) official website has a forum for fans to make their discussion, and the fans could judge whether they like the contestant or not by seeing their portfolios on the website. These online communications enable producers and audiences build-up the relationship; the viewers will be more committed to the show if they participate the online discussion. The two-way symmetrical communication not only make audience more engage in the show, but at the same time, let the producers know what audiences expect to see. For example, The ANTM had once fired a judge named Paulina in the show and pointed out that the salary of Paulina was too high for them to continue the contract. However, before firing Paulina, the online discussion already had a lot of voices indicating that the viewers do not like Paulina to be in the show (example.) Some people believe this was the main reason for the producer to fire Paulina.

Moreover, I think how people commented on the forum will influence the contestant’s performance in the show (especially reality shows). For example, if a lot of commenter point out that they like the ANTM contestants to smile more while having a photo shoot, the contestants might tend to do so to please the audience. In this way, the content and the trends of the show might be changed; and I think this is something that the producer cannot control.

Some international version of the Top Model series invites the audience to participate more to the show. For example, the Australia’s Next Top model asks the audience to vote for the future winner by using SMS. Some of the contestants even overturned the results by the supports of the audience’s votes. The director of the show indicated in the interview, pointed out that the SMS voting is a success (see the related article.) The SMS voting makes the line between producer and the audience become blurred. Just as Deuze have mentioned, the role of producer and the consumer have become “interchangeable and interdependent (p.250).”

The Top Model series is the production that based on traditional media and collaborated with new media. It enables the ordinary people to share their personal creativities and ideas with the professional producers; I think it is related to the idea of “convergence culture.”


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. luckymaggie
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 19:28:36

    Interesting. You did a really good job in articulating how this Top Model series fit in the convergence culture context. American’s Next Top Model is similar to my case, American Idol, as both of them are contest-based reality shows. But your perspective on the two-way information flow is more accurate than mine. You mentioned the online discussion was an open place for the producers in that the forum shouldered the responsibility of “let the producers know what audiences expect to see”. This point is very important but I overlook it unfortunately. Also your comment about how Internet surfers’ words have impact on the models on the psychological level is impressive. It reminds me of Super Girl, the solo singing competition in China. To some extent, the voice and attitude from audiences add much pressure on those contestants, especially for young girls to accept some harsh criticism. Actually, the influence brought by the web audience to the tv show per se is out of our expectation, both the professionals’ and the amateurs.


  2. chentingchen
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:15:22

    These kinds of reality shows are really popular these years. Few years ago, there was a “top model” show in Taiwan also. However, unlike ANTM and other Top Model series, it did not get a lot of feedback and audience ratings as other Top Model series. (Though ANTM is very famous in Taiwan)I think one of the reason may be resulted from the culture background. The other reason I think is probably caused from lacking “the two-way symmetrical communication” you mentioned about. Maybe only watching people on TV cannot satisfy audience now. Let audience being PART OF SHOW in the process through any possible channels is the inevitable way, maybe.


  3. Carol
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 20:00:56


  4. ltn0913
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 20:51:12

    Phone calls, SMS, online discussion… there are more and more ways for audience to get involved in current shows. ANTP is a good example, and the British’s Got Talent, American Idol and so on. I think it is a good way to make the show better. Not just for shows’ popularity , and also for the revenue and quality. Traditioal media and with collaberated with a media is a trend, because it gives everyone an equal opportunity to perform, to judge, or to get benefit.


  5. Mindy McAdams
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 16:51:52

    You mentioned how viewers’ opinions about judges and contestants might influence the show’s producers and the models themselves. But you did not make much of an argument based on what Deuze discussed about the consumers actually making the content. Just voting by SMS is quite small, and we see tons of examples of that, for many years, ever since American Idol.

    Also, the article you linked here is just a news report about the voting. It doesn;t really explain or illuminate anything about the “convergence” nature of this show.


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