The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Big Brother: Don't Bother

You may have noticed, dear reader, that I occassionally rant about TV shows on this blog. You may have also noticed that I've never complained about reality TV shows. Why? Well, while reality TV isn't really my thing, most of it is fairly acceptable television. Not amazing, but seeing real people achieve something, whether it be losing weight (Biggest Loser), winning a race (The Amazing Race) or being recognised for their talent (Australian Idol et al) is pretty entertaining stuff. Reality TV has evolved significantly from it's early days - don't get me wrong, the scripted stuff is always better - but it's a genre that's finally starting to mature.

So just when I thought it was safe to turn on the TV again...

Does anyone even get the 1984 reference?

That's right, the grandaddy of reality TV is returning to Australia. I've been holding off on a rant about the show for a while, waiting patiently for some more information about the show. Now, with the premiere mere days away, it's emerged the show will be...

... exactly the same as it was back in 2008.

No, I'm not making this up. While there are some cosmetic diferences (new host, new channel), the show is exactly the same as it was four years ago. A bunch of people go into a house, we see them sit around and talk about how hot they are, then they leave. Channel 9 is obviously banking on the nostalgia factor here, but beneath the cries of "oooh, it's a show I used to watch while it was younger! It therefore MUST be good!", I can promise that the show will be just as bad as before.

Actually, I think it will be worse. As I mentioned earlier, reality TV has evolved from simply seeing "real" people on TV (I know, "real" is not a word you'd use to describe the Big Brother housemates). Nowadays, reality TV is about people striving to achieve something or to better themselves. I can't speak for everyone, but I like to see people actually do something on television. Because, honestly, if I wanted to see someone sit around a house for ages and never go outside, I'd watch my own life.

Wait, hang on, I'm not being totally fair. Apparently the show is doing new things. Firstly, every housemate will have a secret...

Oh, and don't forget the last time Big Brother had a "secret" was back in 2004, when the BIG SECRET was that the prize money was being raised from $250 000 to $1 000 000. What a shocking twist, eh?

But when you stop and think about it, how is this going to make the show more interesting? The core premise of Big Brother is that these people have never met each-other before, so I can't imagine the secrets being all that shocking. It won't be anything huge like, "I used to be a man", "I've slept with everyone in this house" or "I watched The Shire and enjoyed it", it'll be boring stuff like "I once cheated on my partner" or "I keep my Vegemite in the fridge."

How can I make this claim? Well, a major part of the show's marketing strategy is that the house will have "real" people in it this time - not the bogan blokes and barbie girls that Big Brother is infamous for. The new host, Sonia Kruger, has gone on record saying, "[We're] looking for people who don’t have an agenda and people who don’t see themselves as TV types."

Now, I may not be a TV executive, but surely the people who audition to go on TV see themselves as "TV types"? If they didn't see themselves as someone who should be on TV, then they wouldn't audition in the first place. I think by this point the public knows what going on Big Brother means - you're exposing yourself (literally, in the case of Uncut) to the entire nation. Most people in Australia would not want to do that - I know I certainly wouldn't. Only those desperate for fame and fortune go into the house, not people who just want to experience the joy of being filmed sitting in a house for several months (as I said, I already sit in a house and don't go outside).

So anyway, I see two possible outcome from this "real person" strategy:
  • They don't get "real people" going to the audition (more likely), and have to fill the house with freaks
  • They do get "real people" audition, but they quickly realise that normal people are dull (good is boring, after all), so Channel 9 selects the freaks regardless
Does Channel 9 not realise that the nutjobs that go into the house is why people watch the show? It's certainly not for the story or cinematography. So either Channel 9 is just plain ignorant or they're lying to the us, desperately trying to convince the public that the show has changed.

But it hasn't. Sure, they've made every effort to make it seem like the show has changed, but it hasn't. All of the problems with Big Brother - the "do-nothing" nature of the show, the freaks who enter the house - still exist, just as bad as ever. The show is still boring, pointless drivel. It's still going to be full of gratuitous amounts of sex talk and nudity. And, worst of all, it's still all going to be about SMS voting - do you remember how HUGELY ANNOYING those constant reminder ads were on Channel 10?

"So what?" a fan might say. "The original was great, and this new version seems to be everything I love about the old one. It's gotta be good!" This logic, while it has some grounds, is hugely flawed. Here's a few American TV shows that were recently remade with minimal changes to the original:
See a pattern here? With the exception of V, all of the shows lasted only one season (and V only lasted two). The new versions bombed because all the networks did was take the original show, set it in contemporary times and hope to God people felt nostalgic enough to watch it.

And this, dear reader, is exactly what Channel 9 is doing. Don't watch Big Brother. It's yet another lazy attempt by the networks to cash in on the nostalgia factor. It may have been a fine show for its time, but reality TV has changed so much since Big Brother first went to air. We need to move on to fresher, more original shows. Building the future and keeping the past alive may be the same thing, but that does not mean we should exclusively live in the past, getting lost in nostalgia. Ditch this shit.

© 2012 by The Free Man

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