Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Oh, Brother! Why Art Thou? or "Don't call me Nigga, Whitey"

Big Brother – it’s not so much, as Orwell predicted, that you can’t get away from his gaze, but rather that your gaze can’t escape him. I’ve never watched the programme, never bought into the chattering about the programme, try my darnedest to avoid reading about it, but the bloody thing is everywhere!

Those that respect the show more than I will no doubt tell you that it is a fantastic sociological study of modern folks obsession with fame – are we feeding the needs of the people on the programme to be famous, or are they feeding our need to cut the famous down? Perhaps it’s just cutting out the middlemen in the process of knocking the famous off their pedestals? Perhaps these cut rate performing monkey’s are making our real famous seem more idolistic? Perhaps it’s part of some great experiment, does fame occur because people are interested in someone, or are people morbidly interested in those who would do anything for fame?

It’s been everywhere for the last week or so because two of the programmes contestants have been involved in what they are calling a ‘race row’. Even by the biggest stretch of ones imagination it is not a row. One of the dumb ones called another of the dumb ones a ‘nigger’ in a “playful manner”, and got kicked off of the programme for it. The intention behind the “outburst” (was it “nigger” or “nigga”?) aside, the chance for this supposedly sociologically strong show failed at an opportunity to ask some interesting questions about language, taboos and the nature of offensiveness.

C4 and all involved in the show seemed to miss the point of this, perhaps desperate to make it known, after a similar ‘race row’ in the Celebrity version earlier in the year, that they will not tolerate racism. But it failed to ask why someone could feel that using the N word in a jokey manner would be okay? In what context is using the word okay? Why do rappers and hip-hop folk throw the word around in an attempt to reclaim it? Is it okay to sing ‘nigger’ but not say it?

Instead they opted to throw the blonde one out to the wolves – a girl totally untrained in media relations when it came down to it, and quite frankly who wasn’t too bright – in an attempt to find a villain without asking why and how?

And now I, a non-interested non-viewer, find myself wasting 400 odd words on this pile of nonsense.

My proposal; if the show is supposed to be a true sociological study, then go for it – blast a siren out at some ungodly hour, lock the contestant in the house, play the sounds of bombs going off and people screaming for a few hours before cutting the power and surrounding the house in absolute silence. It would be at this point that my idea of Big Brother as a programme would begin.

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