Date of Award

Summer 2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Graduate Group

Anthropology

First Advisor

John L. Jackson, Jr.

Abstract

Reality television lays claim to 'the real' with a reflexive aesthetic. With increasing confusion between the act of mediation (production process) and the object of that mediation (product), reality television appears to lay bare its foundations, the televisual claim to the real, so as to democratize the relationship between production power and reception power. By studying the production of reality television ethnographically, one can witness how the reflexivity that, as a convention, aesthetically indexes reality can extend beyond the parameters of the media itself and into the lives of its producers. This thesis looks at the reflexive media practices of an Indonesian-American woman who sets out re-define both what it means to be Indonesian and what "America" means in Indonesia. The reality that she constructs through her clever manipulation of the media offers a forward-looking and egalitarian alternative to the perceived rigidity of Indonesia's social hierarchies. With her secret weapon, the ability to generate an alternative reality, this media-maker acts as a vigilante in the name of neoliberal progress and global pop cultural justice.