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Big Brother

Big Brother has been killed, finally, and Lynda Hawryluk (lyndahawryluk) offers commentary:

146 housemates, 8 seasons and countless amounts of phone calls and SMS votes later, Big Brother is finally over. And it took two people to euthanaise it. Two people effectively killed off a tried and tested, albeit increasingly tiresome formula: Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O.

Any retrospective of Big Brother will show clearly where the show's demise began: while the first four seasons successfully combined unique personalities with a den-mother like host (Gretel Killeen) and less focus on gimmickry, the subsequent seasons changed in tone and mood. Post-Season 4, the downhill slide began, precipitated by a stable of housemates chosen for their looks, youth and willingness to stoop to any level to garner attention. Personality went out the door, replaced with the overwhelming feeling that each housemate spent most of their time preening and posing in self-conscious preparation for a Ralph or Zoo magazine cover. The prizes became the main incentive to participate; that and the potential for ongoing fame of the Paris Hilton variety: famous for being famous.

The content of the show changed too: tasks and challenges were less focused on cooperation and more on financial gain. The voting system aptly summed up the cynical tone: instead of voting for your favourite housemate, why you could vote against your least favoured housemate too. Twice the number of votes; twice the amount of revenue.


I was never a fan of the show, myself. Lynda's superhero power, however, is the ability to justify her love for trash culture through the socially aware gaze.

I saw the show a few times, but the image that stuck with me was in season one, where an old girlfriend made me watch it one night, and we spent half an hour watching people paint a wall. I was, literally, watching paint dry. I don't think I ever forgave her for that, and when we parted, the memory of it made that time a little easier. Of course, that was before I'd found myself with one of the ratings boxes attached to my television, and the power to decide what continues to exist (or at least that's what I'm told I have the power for, and who am I to argue with this?). Now, having avoided the show the entire season, I can just take pleasure from the fact that I contributed to its drop in ratings, and that I am one of the people responsible for it being tossed into a deep, deep pit with all those who worked on it.

Well, with any luck, I suppose.

Comments

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shadowsandice
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
I have no TV.

1 up.
lyndarama
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
You win: you're not missing much.

A friend of mine has a TV but no aerial, and gets all high and mighty about it. When I point out the many, many TV series boxsets she owns she loses some of the smugness, but not much.
shadowsandice
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
...a TV without an aerial sounds like a sort of daft thing to be proud of, not unlike the ability to kick yourself in the head 30 times in 30 seconds.
benpeek
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
but i have the ratings box. that justifies everything.
ironed_orchid
Jul. 22nd, 2008 06:57 am (UTC)
Yes, it does.
lyndarama
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
Is that why we broke up?

I'm going to use your quote about me in my CV if you don't mind. Thanks for the linkage!

benpeek
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
yes, that's why we broke up. also, you had this whole 'career' path to follow, whereas i wanted to keep scamming the government on the dole.

remember, it's dr peek for the quote.
jody_macgregor
Jul. 22nd, 2008 02:29 am (UTC)
I want to go to Dreamland and dance on its grave. Hell, I want to go to Dreamland and drag my arse on its grave.
benpeek
Jul. 22nd, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
video, please.
lyndarama
Jul. 22nd, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)
Ew, the mental image is good enough lol.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Jul. 22nd, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
yeah, i reckon they missed the boat on that kinda stuff as well.
catsparx
Jul. 22nd, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
oh yeah. I would have watched zombie apocalypse big brother for sure. Or viral infection BB.
lyndarama
Jul. 22nd, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
The first series housemates were actually convinced no-one would watch, and made comments about how they wouldn't even know if a really major catastrophe occurred in the outside world...

That's what made it so good in the early days: they didn't know what to expect when they left.

I would have liked the news recap with Sandra Sully (to bring them up to speed on real-world events - funny that most housemates seemed to be viewing much of it with a blank expression on their face) to be complete lies: 'California slips into the ocean', 'The Queen abdicates', 'Tom Cruise gay!'

Oh wait. That last one isn't a complete lie.

benpeek
Jul. 22nd, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
not that there's anything wrong with that.
ironed_orchid
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:00 am (UTC)
I think in the second series there was a PhD student (lit, or gender studies or something) and she said she was so bored and they only let her take one book, that she slept as much as she could. I thought she was awesome.

But she lasted about 6 weeks, because she wasn't on anyone's radar until the more obnoxious housemates had left.
benpeek
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
how many seasons of this did you watch?
ironed_orchid
Jul. 23rd, 2008 08:37 am (UTC)
I was in a student residence during season 2, so caught some episodes in the common room and absorbed more by osmosis. I think I probably saw between 1-5 eps of each of the first 3 seasons, and then stopped watching broadcast tv altogether.
ex_chrisbil
Jul. 22nd, 2008 10:39 am (UTC)
I still think your plan for Big Brother was the best 'reality' tv show concept ever conceived. Make them believe society has crumbled outside. Genius. Or, actually have society crumble outside.
benpeek
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
i know. i know. if only i had money and power.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 23rd, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
No man, let's wait for the new UK series, then unleash anarchy in the country. If we can't afford to fake it, we'll have to do it for real!
ex_chrisbil
Jul. 23rd, 2008 08:44 am (UTC)
Me, obviously.
ext_106448
Jul. 22nd, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
We canceled cable about 4 years ago. I don't miss it much, any TV shows worth seeing are still freely available (and commercial free) if you know where to look (i.e. the Internet, box sets, etc.), you just may have to wait.

What I found surprising was that we were sought out by the Nielson group to part of their surveys because we didn't watch TV. Odd. Guess we must have helped the statistical variance some, somewhere.
seanwilliams
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
I would love to be in that Nielsen sample set. Sick of being an outlier. The only time we exercise our aerial is to watch the first 20 minutes of SBS World News, on average once a week. As soon as the ads kick in, we're gone.

Oh, but I'd watch Zombie BB, for sure. That would be crool.
benpeek
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
don't worry, man, you're being represented by me and my tv viewing.

though i do wish sbs world news hadn't moved to the two presenter format, and lost their best presenter.
benpeek
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
yeah, when i got asked to do it, i said, 'look, i don't really watch that much tv,' and they seemed fine by this. guess i'm some kind of demographic.
lucius_t
Jul. 26th, 2008 09:22 am (UTC)
I believe the show's still on in the state. I could send you tapes...if I were in the states. :)
benpeek
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
then aren't we both happy you're not :)
lucius_t
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
Absolutely. Couldn't be happier.
benpeek
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
still thinking of the move?
lucius_t
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)
Oh, Fuck yeah. I've moved. Closed up my apt in the State, had shit shipped to me. I'm here.
benpeek
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
ha! that was quick, man. congrats!
lucius_t
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
I'm not a slow decision maker. Kind of leap before you look is my style. Gets me in trouble sometimes.
benpeek
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
well, it's not a bad way to be. i hope it works out, man.
lucius_t
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
Thanks. I expect it already has to a certain extent. :)
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