Deal or No Deal; a Carnivalized Society

Deal or no deal is a Reality television show that uses a cast of pre-selected people to partake in a  gambling mind game where the participant selects among a list of boxes and as the show progresses, the participant, by the process of elimination, removes the boxes one by one, attempting to avoid the box with the most money. The contestant chooses a box, then there is revealing of money in the box, then offering a deal, which they can either accept or refute. The show builds up as it progresses, with the show host constantly communicating with the banker financing the contest, leaving ultimate money-winning box. There is exposure of the participants to the large audience, including family and friends, but mostly people unfamiliar to them. The audience takes the role of cheering the contestant on, whether to take the deal or not. Although he or she has the power and authority in the game, the audience takes up active participation, and there is collectivity in their involvement, and they set the mood of the show.

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Tony Bennett examines the reasons why people find pleasure in social groupings. In the book, formation of pleasure, which explores the creation of new forms of excitement and pleasure to replace existing ones while focusing on stimulating variety of culture. He talks about the Blackpool pleasure beach which is a carnival and a place of social gathering. He describes it as a modern form of carnival in which the technology and big machines afford pleasure. This is similar to the game show, deal or no deal, which is also a modern ‘carnival’ where people go to harness pleasure from gathering and the common participation of tasks (Bennett eds. 1987).

According to Bakhtin, a Russian Philosopher and critique of literature, a carnival is a collection of people who are not merely a crowd rather a group that defines itself as a whole irrespective of social economic and political background. The people making up the group consider themselves as equals. The atmosphere in the carnival is as a whole rather than individual. An individual in a carnival loses time and space feeling as if they are a part of a whole. He pinpoints the aspect of collectivity which explains that the group experiences similar emotions and its actions target a common goal. In the show, deal or no deal the audience acts like a carnival. Participants lose their self and become part of the audience. Feelings are mutually exchanged in that whatever the participants feels generates to the audience. Participants win are the audience’s win and the audience gains pleasure in partaking in the experience. The participant is in authority. He or she holds the power as the decision is in their hands solely. However, the show host takes up the active role of enticing the audience to influence the participants’ decisions. The program popularizes this carnivalised culture where there is one individual on a platform and an audience who act collectively to influence his or her actions. In this setting, every individual in the carnival considers themselves as one and they all share mutual emotions (Bakhtin 1984).

The carnivalized culture is becoming increasingly popular with the advance of television broadcasting which encourages fictional festivities under the glare of a camera. Carnivalization, however, has a rich and long historical foundation from ancient times. In the modern era, it has liberated and influenced authority of official culture where folk festivities used to be in a traditional setting. Its development as a popular humor has placed it as an important aspect of the new generation.

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