An Autoethnography of Child Artists in Tamil Dance Reality Television Production


  • P. Sithara Venkatesh PhD Research Scholar, Department of Journalism & Communication, University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu



Autoethnography, Child Artist, Tamil Television, Dance Reality Production, Biopolitics


Reality Television shows that revolve around the lives of children have become popular to audiences of all ages, which is evident in their success across diverse channels and various demographics (Palmer, 2013). With the increase in the number of reality shows and child participants in them, emerges a critical need of questioning the power of those in authority and are in- charge of production over the powerless group (the children) who aren’t of an age to legally possess the right to consent on their work, but have become the primary focus of almost every aspect of media commercialisation. An analysis of the conditions and effects of child participation in reality shows is extremely complex as it is difficult to make a child share his/her experience with others. It is also true that the history of children’s daily experiences are extremely difficult to trace, since children themselves have had little or no access to those public forms of expression (Holland, 2004).

This paper is an autoethnographic study that explores Tamil dance reality television's child artists during the period 2008-2020.The bodily performances of the dance reality television’s child artists and crew are studied by focusing on the intersections of body and space and with them developing in this context the concept of Biopolitics, as advanced by Michel Foucault (1979). The qualitative study covers a sample of 8 dance reality shows in five different Tamil channels with a focus on 12 child artists and how they spend their everyday lives in the shooting sets, rehearsal studios and other media production spaces. The researcher, being an insider in the reality television programmes, as a freelance floor director and coordinator for more than ten years now, provides this paper a significant leverage of the same and uses methods of memory work and self-reflexive writing along with in-depth interviews.


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