Composing Excitement: Understanding the Visual Rhetoric of the Voice

 

Reality TV has been increasingly studied by media and cultural studies scholars and practitioners, becoming a subject of critique across the disciplines of communication. While many reality TV programs have been the target of analysis for racism, sexism, and violence cultivation, not much has been done to explore the visual compositions in this genre to consider the rhetoric of excitement or audience stimulation. Using a data-driven approach, this article examines the visual formats and presentational structures employed by a popular reality franchise vocal competition show, The Voice, as produced in China, America, and the United Kingdom. Through a comparative content analysis, the author examines the 2014 finale performances of each version of the show, focusing on their stage design, cinematography, and screen graphics. This study finds distinctions in the show’s visual mechanism across three countries, thus suggesting imperative insights to the diversity of visual characterization and the functions of visual rhetoric in a modern TV talent show.