It’s fashionable to rubbish Big Brother but it’s funny how the critics always seem to have watched so much of it. I’ve been a fan from the start.
Forget those crappy soft-skills training courses. If you really want to see social conflict, class differences, homophobia, racism, sexism and ageism in action – then watch and learn. That’s not to say it’s reinforced those values. The UK show has been won by gay contestants and a transsexual.
Big Brother’s - a workplace
TV used to be such a happy place, full of smiling faces. Now it’s getting darker, more honest, and we can all learn from this. It really does get people talking about human conflict and what’s good and bad in the way people deal with each other. In this sense the house has much in common with the workplace; the daily grind, dealing constantly with people you never chose to be with, shared tasks, people leave over time and then there’s a sometimes malevolent, sometimes benevolent master/employer – Big Brother.
Collaborative learning When was the last time someone said, ‘I saw this amazing thing on a softskills training course today’. Big Brother, on the other hand, is talked about. Collaborative learning really does take place around Big Brother wherever people congregate and socialise. Why? Because it’s fascinating to watch real people deal with problems. We watch, comment, discuss, reflect and learn from this.
More webcam than TV
It also tapped into an important idea, that this generation is different – they have less propriety, less modesty and are more open, honest and candid. Interestingly Bazalgette’s book about reality TV, Billion Dollar Game, shows that it had its roots in the web with Jennicam – remember that? It’s fundamentally a webcam format, albeit with multiple webcams, with an added gameshow layer. But it’s the watching that matters. Plots, sub-plots, relationships, villains and heroes emerge over the weeks with the kite being tugged now and again to introduce some instability, which takes it even higher.
Method in madness
“Television is actually closer to reality than anything in books. The madness of TV is the madness of human life.” said Camille Paglia, so look and learn. Reality television is not the end of civilisation as we know it, it IS civilisation as we know it.