Friday, 6 June 2008

Back to Reality

So, Big Brother is back. Again. We're up to series 9, and every year there is a flurry of blog posts and articles from Christians (especially when there's a Christian in the house. Apparently there are two this year. I guess we'll see how that works out...). So most things have been said. But, following on from yesterday's post, it got me thinking about what Big Brother saya about our culture - and particularly the way it's changed over the years.

When BB first started, it was the start of the boom in reality TV. We hadn't really seen anything like it - a random bunch of people trapped together for a bit too long. The attraction then was the novelty of the situation, and just watching how people acted together.

That in itself is interesting. We like watching people, we like seeing what they'll do. We especially like to see them at their worst - when they argue, when they get drunk, when they're horrible to each other. Perhaps we feel pleased that we aren't like them. Or that they are like us. People like watching people.

But the novelty didn't stay novel for long. After a while, as we got used to BB and reality TV in general (even the stomach-churning channel 5 kind), the producers had to find ways to spice things up. Hidden rooms, inequality, shock evictions have all come and gone. And the selection of victims, sorry, housemates, has become more and more random, designed to provide the maximum drama.

This year, a couple were put into the house, but then the guy was told to pretend he was with someone else. Apparently, they're going to get "married" on Sunday. I'm sure that will cause all sorts of controversy in itself. But the point is that we often watch TV because we want new experiences. We want to be shocked, we want to be appalled. But shocking things don't stay shocking for long. And so the boundaries of morality and even acceptability get pushed further and further out.

I think that's one of the things I was trying to get at in my last post. TV is hugely influential in not only showing where culture is at, but in changing it. And I think it's powerful because it's so gradual, but constant.

Who knows what else Big Brother will pull out of the bag this year. But it will no doubt be crazier and more shocking than previous years. But by BB series 11 we'll think nothing of it.

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