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Analysis of Pawn Stars

Pawn Stars is a show set in a pawnshop in Las Vegas. The show goes through a day in the life of the workers. It shows all of the interesting people and items that walk through the door, and tells us a little of the history behind them. In the show pawn stars the coding and other elements in the background have a very profound effect on the show as a whole. All of the elements of the show can be broken down by the TAP model, which has three main elements text, production and audience. In the show the characters never look at the camera while they are buying and selling in the shop.

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The point of view is from a third person bystander. This is to give the feel that the cameraman and crew have no part in the day to day life of the characters. This third person view is broken however in the interviews and asides that the characters have. Most of the sellers of extravagant strange or expensive items are interviewed about there items using the outside as a backdrop to give the feel that the interview was very informal as they were walking up to the shop. The guys in the pawnshop are also interviewed. In which they give us specific information about the history of the objects and their opinions.

It is all portrayed in a way to show that the guys who work at the pawn shop are very knowledgeable while the public is not. Every episode seems to be about one day at the pawnshop. They take all of the more interesting customers and objects from the previous week or month and put them into one day. They also have flash backs to earlier in the day, the lighting is different for these scenes, as they are more of a sepia color to signify the time difference. The lighting for most of the show is bright and welcoming, like they are encouraging you to walk right in.

The music in Pawn Stars also takes a huge role in setting the mood. You have intense suspenseful music when Rick or one of the guys is negotiating, that then switches to happy music once an agreement is made. The element of music has made a huge impact on the more recent episodes as the producers strive to make the show more interesting, to attract more viewers. In previous episodes the coding was more low key, allowing the show to have more straight facts with out all of the drama. The opposite is now true in more recent episodes.

Pawn stars is clearly a “reality show” while the facts and artifacts are real the sellers and every thing else for the most part is staged. There is a huge difference in the show’s dynamic when it first came out and where it is today. Originally it was simple and to the point there was very little drama and the show focused on the neat artifacts and collectibles being bought and sold at the shop. But over time they ran out of “real” costumers bringing in one of a kind collectibles. So they cheated a little by bringing in actors and merchandise.

The level of drama and interactions or little quarrels outside the business has increased. Most new episodes have at least one very disgruntled customer or seller swearing at the camera and running off. There has been so much more drama and suspense added in in order to increase their viewers. A quick internet search shows its possible to get just about anything with the Pawn Stars logo on it, they even have short video games and books related to it. The main purpose of the show is to make money by maximizing profits with out losing viewers.

The original audience for the show was the typical History Channel audience, male viewers. But in order to get more viewers they have taken a more true reality TV approach, put as much drama as possible in it to make it suspenseful and interesting. I do not like this approach and typically do not like shows that have so much “fake” drama. This TAP model is a great way to break down a media form into its basic elements in order to fully understand it I will never look at TV shows or other media the same way again.

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