Saturday, June 03, 2006

BB7- the revenge of the housemates

I await with interest the Endemol producers' verdict on this series' selection process: were these really the most psychologically suited 12 people in Britain? Bizarrely, as series runs into series, while the viewing trend is generally down, the number of would-be participants continues to rise, even though it should by now be clear that even winning cannot provide lasting fame or even notoriety.

Previous series have provided most interest in demonstrating the Stockholm syndrome, as the housemates became institutionalised and came to identify with BB who exerted arbitrary power over them. This time around, it's more the Stanford Prison Experiment, as the group divided immediately into two factions and the dominant group then savagely attacked any non-conforming individuals. This might be seen as depressing, especially since many of the silent majority might be expected in other circumstances to protest against such victimisation. The risk, of course, is that to do so is to become a target oneself. But all this really shows is that tolerance is not a 'natural' product of human society: it has to be fought for.

But one has to wonder at those who volunteer to effectively be imprisoned for 3 months, with a group of unknown and possibly hostile co-prisoners, at the mercy of a capricious authority with the power to control sleep, food, and clothing. In the past, resistance by the inmates has been limited to arguing with Big Brother and refusing to cooperate in tasks. By definition, these fail. This time, the three walkers have shown the way. Rather than face the full-length ordeal, or the humiliation of public eviction, they have simply walked out once they recognised that they could achieve no more. Unless BB starts to substantially reward all those who stay the course, or really lock them up, then the merry-go-round of bringing in new housemates to replace the walked will become a standard feature of the series.

There has been some discussion about how to make the concept more interesting (now it is clear that 20s wannabe celebrities have no ability at all to say anything worth hearing), and one aspect that hasn't been explored is the exploitation of the isolation from the external world. For example, it would be very funny (for us) if, as a special concession, details of England's triumphant World Cup campaign were to be provided, so that when the victors emerge from the house, they are mystified at the despondency of the crowd who watched the early departure from the contest at the hands of plucky Trinidad. Or if BB were to announce that a Bird Flu outbreak in the vicinity meant that they would have to take all sorts of precautions, check for symptoms etc. Now that would be worth watching.

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