Monday, June 30, 2014

Can we talk about Big Brother for a second?

So "1984" is one of my favorite books because I love dystopian fatasies. There is something so creative about coming up with a scenario that is so bad it's haunting. Needless to say, the show "Big Brother" is a freakishly bad idea made into entertainment. The thought of people having their every move followed isn't that dystopian anymore because many people long to portray such moves in an age of social media anyway. On top of that, every applicant is somehow shooting for fame. Big Brother isn't watching them to punish them, unlike in George Orwell's imagination. Yet, the show Big Brother is a show with a lesson, and I will tell you why!

Now I haven't watched the German version of the show in over a decade but I'm an avid fan of the American version. This year the British version attracted me in vowing to become more like its American equivalent. And although it hasn't kept that promise it is intresting for me to watch whatever goes on in my everyday circles unfold in this microcosm that is the compound in Britain. The cool kids are the pretty people that turn out not to be very nice people and they bully the fat, the ugly and the kids that probably face quite some rejection on the outside world as well. It makes me wonder why people watching the show sympathize with the outcasts while in real life most of them would probably try to get in with the popular kids. I pride myself in not being such a person.

That character Helen Wood is obviously especially striking. She received a pass to the final as a reward on the first day otherwise there would be no way Helen would still live in that compound. Funnily enough Helen is a former escort that made bad headlines when she slept with married Wayne Rooney while Coleen was having a baby. In a desperate attempt to mend her public image she entered the Big Brother house. Unfortunately for Helen she is a nasty bitch if ever there was one. What a horribe, horrible person. She went ahead and not only bullied but threatened every single housemate with the exeption of the pretty boys while Britain is watching. I don't have to judge to say that's a proper stupid move. Helen is the kind of girl that claims chicks hate her because they're jealous. For such a person to live around cameras is not a prudent choice, and sadly not very nice to watch either. However, it is interesting to see that a person who can't make 15 fellow housemates stand to be around her isn't enchanting the public either. Go figure!

Last year something similar happened in the US, making last year's Big Brother the worst season ever. There was a divide between the models and sports buffs and the offbeat people. And, what a surprise, the "popular" crowd started making headlines for bullying, racism and all kinds of misbehavior. I'm personally not surprised as that is exactly what I have witnessed in life on a bigger scale than 16 people living in a house. It happens in every classroom, doesn't it? I blogged about this before but the fat kid is usually not the one bullying the cheerleader if you get what I'm saying... So Big Brother is really just watching social behavior taking place while you can watch and eat popcorn without the uncomfortable addition of being involved in it. But what happens on the screen happens to all of us, and the lessons to be learnt from that should be some we ought to make ourselves.

In the US and Canada Big Brother is also a highly political show. Everything I ever learned about systems can be applied to that format as across the pond Big Brother is less of a social experiment than a game show. Each week someone wins a challenge to become the head of household who nominates two people for eviction. At the end of the week all housemates decide who goes. In order to ensure your survival you have to make alliances, accumulate power and in a way win battles. How is that different from the international system only that hopefully nobody dies? It is awesome. A buff guy with a PhD will become the threat sooner than the barista which tells us about everything there is to know about perceptions. In the international system I'd rather be friends with the States than Ghana as well. Enough said...

Although Big Brother is obviously produced for entertainment I enjoy watching it for it's educational elements as well. I have derived a life lesson here or there from watching strangers play out situations I have encountered in my own life. Watching other people solve problems can be insightful. Also, judging people on arrival in the house and documenting how perceptions change the more we get to know them taught me a thing or two about my judge of character. And I need not state how much I enjoy watching political behavior, even if the scale is as little as a above-average-sized house in LA filled with a diverse mix of people. Even so called "dumb TV" can teach us things...

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