Big Brother…from social experiment to explotation

It was in 2000 that Big Brother exploded onto our screens. It was a social experiment that put 11 strangers in a house and put cameras in there that televised the goings on to the British public. Every week the public would vote on of the “housemates” out the house until three were left and then the winner would be announced and they would win a cash prize. It became popular with 10 million viewers on the opening night. It seemed that people became fascinated with the idea of people able to turn their TV on and become a voyeur of 11 people in a house doing different tasks and also living together and watching their personalities clash. Fast forward 12 years and although the concept of people being put in a house the number of people has risen to 14 original housemates (housemates leave and they have to be replaced). It has now become all about putting people in a house that they know will clash and it is more about ratings and staying popular rather than the actual prize money and the social side. It has turned from a social experiment to an absolute farce.

It has become almost like a guilty pleasure. Even though people say that they hate it they will still watch it obsessively. It seems that it has almost become embedded in our lives. The build up to it is almost as bad as a film premier. There are often adverts on TV with a countdown until the opening night and then the opening night is always covered extensively by the media as it often appears in the papers the next day and gives the details of of the housemates. Then the show is broadcast daily at night so that people never missed anything that happens in the house. When it was aired on Channel 4 there was also a 24-hour channel where you literally could watch it for 24 hours. I don’t know anyone who would find watching people sleep entertaining but then again there are some strange people in this world. In 2010 it looked like the series was to come to an end, however, the series was picked up by Channel 5 and the 24-hour broadcast was scrapped. In the more recent series it seems that some of the actions of the housemates have been simply for the cameras so that ratings are boosted. If there is no conflict or controversy then people would find it boring and then people wouldn’t watch it so they put people in the house that they know will clash so the ratings will rise.

It is not only ‘normal’ people that go on Big Brother. It also has the spin-off series ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ where Z-list celebrities or celebrities from the past go on the show usually with the aim to raise their profile again and get back into the spotlight. It seems that both the celebrities and the ‘normal’ people seem to all become classed as stars if they appear on Big Brother. Some of the controversy that has happened over the last 12 years is in the 2005 Celebrity Big Brother where Jady Goody, Jo O’Meara and Danielle Lloyd bullied Shilpa Shetty because she was Indian. Even though there was racist bullying the ratings still soared. It seems that when there is controversy it just boosts the publicity of the show so more and more people will watch it. In 2002 Les Dennis’ depression was also brought to the attention of the media. In Big Brother 9 the first eviction was cancelled because contestant Alexandra De-Gale threatened many of the housemates and she was removed from the house. One of the things that often keeps the viewers hooked is if there will be any romance in the house and in most years there have often been romances. Whether they were real or for the cameras has always been disputed. Famous in Celebrity Big Brother 4 (2006) fake celebrity Chantelle Houghton struck up a relationship with Preston. They married after the show but divorced shortly after.

It seems that the Big Brother bug has spread to other countries. There are now also versions of the show in Africa, Serbia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Chili and also the USA to name a few. Not only are people in the UK hooked on watching the show, it seems that people world wide are obsessed with watching the show. The Big Brother format has made it acceptable for people’s every single move to be documented and for it to be entertaining. How is watching people in a house entertaining? I’d rather watch paint dry


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