Sunday, July 02, 2006

BB06, Big Brother shock

Named after the omnipresent character in George Orwell’s famous novel comes the TV series shown in various formats around the world. Not being a huge fan of the concept of reality TV I’ve avoided the Australian series for 5 years, but I found myself watching it with Jeremy, a fan of the American series, despite my warnings that the Australian version is very boring.

However, we became involved and we’ve watched almost every daily episode, making friendly wagers as to the fates of nominated contestants. So far I’ve guessed almost every single one correctly. I must be in tune with the opinions of the Australian public. Basically, the ones I like the least have been the ones to leave, which keeps me vaguely satisfied while watching the boring show.

Today I woke up and went through my daily ritual of consuming breakfast and then checking the world of online news. I was surprised to learn from the Sydney Morning Herald that “Ash” and “John” (apparently not their real names) were booted out of the Gold Coast house for a serious breach of house rules. Big Brother (ltd) carefully guarded the truth behind the incident, although it was later reported that people watching the live online feed at 4:30am had described the incident on the Big Brother forum. It turned out loud-mouth Camilla had been sexual harassed by the two boys, perhaps even assaulted.

When I checked, the Big Brother forum was removed from their web site “until further notice” while BB continues to try to censor information and block access to the truth.

Let me repeat that: BB continues to try to censor information and block access to the truth.

This IS Big Brother we’re talking about, the same guy who kept a sharp eye on Oceania in 1984, who bastardised the language into the simplified form of “newspeak”, exercised thought control over the entire public, changed history on a daily basis and invented a world war that wasn’t really happening. In the face of all he’s done, is a little censorship of information very surprising?

Welcome back to reality. This isn’t 1984 and Big Brother isn’t really a dictator. It’s only a TV series.

Why did the host, Gretel Colleen, make assertive claims against evicted contestant, Michael, that Big Brother never edits footage? Michael was simply trying to state the widely known fact that from 24-hours of footage, only 30 minutes are shown which are carefully selected and chosen from certain camera angles with scenes cut short and depicted out of context with the specific intention of creating drama and entertainment. There was little-miss “I have children and I know when someone’s trying to bamboozle me” going red in the face and making poor Michael feel very unwelcome as she defends Big Brother’s … what … honour?

I can’t understand what they’re all so uptight about. The “adults only” edition was recently axed after too much gratuitous footage was aired. That wasn’t Big Brother’s doing, it was the network doing the censoring. This entire series has been a total shambles, but it wasn’t just this year. Apparently last year the show was in serious trouble for showing footage of a male contestant rubbing his penis on a female contestant’s back, without her knowing what was going on.

They got in trouble for that last year, so this year they’re heavily censoring this recent and similar incident. But they don’t seem to understand that there has to be some inbetween ground. Whoever produces the show clearly has no idea.

Or do they? Is the secrecy surrounding the event and BB's refusal to comment just a big publicity stunt? Record numbers of viewers are likely to tune in tonight to the first aired show since the event. By keeping mum about the incident, BB can assure a record-breaking audience for tonight's "daily" update and eviction show. Even if they fail to reveal the truth, there'll be no avoiding the fall out on the housemates. So it turns out Big Brother is still in control, flexing his muscles over the viewing behaviour of the Australian public. It's the next best thing to thought control.

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