Bully for Britain, and a Big Brother, too

by Yule Heibel on January 24, 2005

I wrote this over a week ago, but didn’t post it because it deals with a family member. But now I’m so besotted by MarsEdit (which is solving my weird posting problems), that I have to try posting something with lots of links and a picture — just to see MarsEdit perform. Here goes:

What is it with the British and their obsession with Big Brother? Incredible, but true: Germaine Greer was on Big Brother. I don’t understand how this could happen. Apparently, one of the major reasons she walked out of the house after only a few (5) days was because it was too filthy to bear.

One of my nieces went on Big Brother (series 2, prior to the “celebrity” series now apparently in the making), which I found pretty weird at the time. I was amused — and appalled — by the scandalettes (amplified in the British press) that swirled around Penny. Then, in 2001, shortly after she was voted out the house, I met some Brits at a Massachusetts party who went all ga-ga on learning that I’m Penny’s aunt, and I thought, “This is soooo weird! People like this…” Now, maybe Penny’s a bit eccentric, and then again she was trying to find a bridge from teaching English to getting into acting, and it seems that tabloidissimos grease the publicity wheel. (Even now, the Big Brother experience still provides a publicity hook.)

But whatever compelled Germaine Greer to subject herself to this exercise in sado-masochism exceeds the scope of my …interest. Can’t figure that one out. It’s funny, though: Penny was considered a nutter because she constantly cleaned the Big Brother house. After reading Greer‘s account, however, I’d have to say the choice was either to clean or to leave. And then there’s this: the house is also bully hell:

“Because I am a teacher, I deal with bullying in schools. I would quite like to have a look at the epidemiology of bullying to see if the rise of Big Brother and the rise of bullying have anything to do with each other.” [From here]

So there you go: we’re all canaries in the mine these days, those on the tube and those watching. It’s an experiment in social modification: Big Brother is watching you.


Doug Alder January 25, 2005 at 1:02 am

Can I have your autograph 🙂

Kate S. January 26, 2005 at 10:02 am

I can’t stand those shows, either, so I guess that explains my complete lack of comprehension with the level of attraction, even cult-like status these shows generate.

Maybe it’s a learning tool for yet-to-be socially skilled youngins. Or a secred window with which to hone the skills of a voyeur.

Yule Heibel January 27, 2005 at 2:48 am

Aw, Doug, you’re not British are you? (Funny, you don’t look British… ;-))

Kate, I’ve never seen one of these shows, although I gather (from talking to people) that there’s a veritable algae bloom of “reality” of tv these days — people getting chopped up with plastic surgery, spousal exchanges, home renovations, and so on. Well, I guess there is something to be said for being too cheap to get cable, after all. I miss a lot of stuff that’s …worth missing!

Maria (Alembic), in an email a while back, said that she had read somewhere that these shows are softening us (the average Joe/Jane) up to accept surveillance and intrusion in our real lives. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Well, for every push there’s a shove, I guess. But, yeah, it’s a strange time.

Kate S. January 28, 2005 at 10:08 am

Good point! That’s an excellent point Maria makes — I have seen every single new technology introduced, looking at it through a Big Brother mind’s eye, so carefully crafted by the insightful and rebellious teachers of my youth; they exposed us to the likes of Ayn Rand, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, George Orwell, the “seers” of our time.

Implanted I.D. chips? National I.D. cards, complete with DNA? Surveillance cameras every few feet, constantly eye-balling and recording every movement made by the public? The Patriot Act? lol. What a joke. If we’re good little patriots, then we won’t mind, right? Hahahaha!

Yeah, these reality shows, like the fireman’s wife in Fahrenheit 451, are making us all eager to have cameras in our homes, watching our every move, to give us a false sense of self-importance and self-worth. I’m assuming they don’t follow people into the bathrooms though, to record for posterity the business of their posteriors, their live-streaming, live-feed of the Daily Constitution.

Not yet, anyway. That idea is probably in the pipes, though. Turd TV.

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