International Writers Magazine: UK Now
The 21st century Big
Brother, first aired in 2000, uses a reality television format where for
three months, a group of people live together in a house, isolated from
the outside world but under the continuous gaze of television cameras.
The housemates compete for the cash prize by avoiding nomination from
their fellow housemates for publicly-voted, evictions from the house.
The show went on to have mass success in over 70 different countries.
Bites: How Big Brother reveals the truth about us all
The 21st century
can be defined as a mass media society where people are obsessed
with celebrity. This lead to the introduction of reality TV, where
the public becomes the celebrity, the essence of this culture is
most clearly illustrated in Big Brother. The Big Brother idea originated
from George Orwells novel 1984 written in 1948, in which Big
Brother is the all-seeing leader of the dystopian society.
Big brothers popularity stems from the way in which it provides
the viewer with the control, it allows viewers to become interactive with
their televisions, deciding who they watch, reflecting how 21st century
society is based on the public having their say.
The reality TV show also, ironically, allows viewers to disconnect with
reality by presenting a world free from the worlds problems, political
issues, pressures of work and real long term natural relationships. This
enables viewers to engage and be entertained without actually having to
think, reflecting again how society today is defined by instant gratification.
This can be seen from the way in which people no longer wait and save
money but simply buy things on credit cards. People no longer take the
time to read a Jane Austen novel but go and see the film and with Big
Brother people no longer have to take the time to work hard at having
a talent to be rich and famous but can simply appear on the show for a
few weeks and are sprung into stardom.
biggest example of Big Brothers ability to make the talent-less
famous can be seen with series 3 contestant Jade Goody. When Jade
Goody was a contestant on the show she displayed a high level of
ignorance, such as when she believed that the British city of Cambridge
was in London and when she was told that Cambridge was in fact in
East Anglia she assumed that this was abroad. Goody also believed
that Saddam Hussein was a boxer.
However, since her appearance on Big Brother Jade Goody has reportedly
earned £4million,fronted her own reality TV shows, created her own
perfume and appeared regularly in celebrity, trivia, and gossip-oriented
women's magazines such as Heat and OK!. On January 5, 2007, Jade Goody
reentered the Big Brother house as a celebrity. This demonstrates how
the people of the 21st century dont see acts of stupidity and lack
of intelligence as shameful or embarrassing like previous centuries but
as entertaining and something to aspire to.
irony of the 21st century view of celebrity is again shown with
Chantelle Houghton who was billed as the first 'non-celebrity' to
feature in the Celebrity Big Brother in 2006. She emerged as the
winner of series 4, beating 10 bona fide celebrities. Chantelle
went on to gain numerous modelling and presenting jobs, write magazine
columns for many magazines including OK! And release an autobiography,
showing how in the 21st century you can become a celebrity by simply
pretending to be one.
In addition to capturing the celebrity obsessed essence of 21st century
culture, Big Brother also reveals how, despite years of social reform
and political correctness, we are still ultimately a society that enjoys
inflicting and watching cruelty. This can be seen from the way in which
in 2004 Big Brother turned evil to boost ratings. The house was made smaller
and more claustrophobic; there was one bedroom; and the prize money of
£100,000 was reduced if housemates failed their tasks. The makers
also chose contestants specifically to cause conflicts, opting for people
that were openly gay, a homophobic, a transsexual, a former asylum seeker,
and a person who claimed to be bisexual, although he later revealed that
this had been a fabrication to improve his chances of being selected.
This illustrates how 21st century society is obsessed with scrutiny as
revealed in the media by the way in which tabloids build up celebrities
only to pull them down, publicising every movement, explaining why the
public have lost any respect they once had for people in authority as
how can you respect them when you see them falling out of night clubs
or conducting illicit affairs.
However, although Big Brother is often criticized for reinforcing the
observing rather than doing nature of our culture and its promotion of
ignorance, it does still show how people in the 21st century are still
social creatures as the show does bring people together being the topic
of the majority of water cooler moments in the summer. Also
part of Big Brothers appeal is that you can talk about it with your
friends and colleagues the next day.
In conclusion, Big Brother captures the spirit of our mass media society
as it draws on the publics desire to be in control, allowing them
to choose who they watch. It permits people to observe every aspect of
another persons life and most importantly it displays a world free
of the real troubles of every-day life, allowing people to disconnect
from reality in a society where people want instant gratification and
do not want to think.
© Alana Hebenton December 2007
shl60532 at port.ac.uk
Bridget Joness diary chronicles the life of the attractive thirty
something Bridget who lives a chaotic life
Alana is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
More Life Stories
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.