At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the U.S. lived a veritable, though ill-fated romance with homeownership, encouraged by presidential campaigns and assisted by a reckless mortgage market. Even after the housing bubble burst with the credit market crash in 2007, the symbolical investment in the home remained at the center of the definition of the American Dream and kept finding its way into mass culture representations. Prominent among the latter was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the vastly popular makeover show that, running from 2003 to 2012, significantly contributed to popularizing the ideology of corporate sponsors’ philanthropy. Despite relying for its narrative on the presence of alleged experts—a staple characteristic of the makeover genre—Home Edition also introduced key differences in the treatment of this figure that are subtly aligned to the recent rise of anti-intellectualism in U.S. culture. The following article offers a multimodal analysis of the deployment and resignification of expertise in Home Edition, emphasizing how it operates in this show on two levels. The first one—characterized by the replacement of authentic hands-on experience with a spectacular presentation of trivia—shifts the focus of expertise from knowledge to affect, whereas the second one—which is carefully edited out of the show’s narrative—emphasizes the participants’, and by implication the public’s, limited grasp of the complex processes shaping their socio-political condition. The houses built by the program’s production thus become highly sophisticated semiotic acts that interpellate the subjects inhabiting them and project them, together with the TV audience, against an ideological scenario sanctioning the passage from disciplinary to control societies.

Redeeming Discipline. The Poisoned Gifts of Expertise in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Fusco, Maria Giovanna
2018

Abstract

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the U.S. lived a veritable, though ill-fated romance with homeownership, encouraged by presidential campaigns and assisted by a reckless mortgage market. Even after the housing bubble burst with the credit market crash in 2007, the symbolical investment in the home remained at the center of the definition of the American Dream and kept finding its way into mass culture representations. Prominent among the latter was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the vastly popular makeover show that, running from 2003 to 2012, significantly contributed to popularizing the ideology of corporate sponsors’ philanthropy. Despite relying for its narrative on the presence of alleged experts—a staple characteristic of the makeover genre—Home Edition also introduced key differences in the treatment of this figure that are subtly aligned to the recent rise of anti-intellectualism in U.S. culture. The following article offers a multimodal analysis of the deployment and resignification of expertise in Home Edition, emphasizing how it operates in this show on two levels. The first one—characterized by the replacement of authentic hands-on experience with a spectacular presentation of trivia—shifts the focus of expertise from knowledge to affect, whereas the second one—which is carefully edited out of the show’s narrative—emphasizes the participants’, and by implication the public’s, limited grasp of the complex processes shaping their socio-political condition. The houses built by the program’s production thus become highly sophisticated semiotic acts that interpellate the subjects inhabiting them and project them, together with the TV audience, against an ideological scenario sanctioning the passage from disciplinary to control societies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/128148
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