Original Sin…

12 09 2010

I feel I should mourn. It is, after all, the end of an era. A moments silence would suffice.

Despite this, I am not in the mood for misery. I am, instead, celebrating. It is, after all, the end of an era.

In case you missed it, Big Brother finished on Friday. The ten-year televisual travesty has finally come to an end, thus freeing up hours of programming time for something, nay, anything else. I don’t know how long it took for my hatred of this programme to develop, I do remember being slightly interested when the first series launched as a social experiment.  I remember being less interested the second time round. By series four I was lost, I had no interest in the increasingly freakish bunch who had been thrown into a confined space in the name of entertainment.

It was not just Big Brother though. It was what it did to television and, by extension, society. It became representative of an increasingly dumbed-down society, one which immersed itself in the culture of celebrity, embraced the world of It-girls, talent shows, z-list stars, cheap magazines filled with gossip columns written by people with little talent for researching and writing any other form of story. Big Brother, in my mind, epitomised everything that was wrong with British society.

There’s more than that though. It effectively spawned reality television as a genre. It paved the way for Pop Idol, X Factor, I’m a Celebrity…, Strictly Come Dancing, Hole in the Wall et al. It suddenly gave television producers a way out. They didn’t need to think about their programmes, or their programming. They could suddenly block out entire hours of television with no-brainer programmes. They didn’t need to pour money into intellectual programmes, into new dramas, into home-grown talents. The schedules became clogged up with ‘reality’-this, or ‘celebrity’-that. Alongside this, of course, Big Brother rolled on. If it wasn’t on in the summer, it was in the winter with a celebrity version.

It ‘launched’ the careers of nobodies, it gave people about whom we would otherwise not care, exposure beyond their wildest dreams, and their wildest abilities. There is no reason why we should care about what eccentricities people come up with whilst stuck in a house. Yet people did care, and kept tuning in. Why? What was so enthralling about odd people in an entirely odd situation acting odd? I still don’t know. In my mind, it’s the same as watching a bunch of prisoners in jail, and I have no compunction to do that.

In a similar way, why should I then want to read about these people once they have stopped fouling up my television set? The amount of tabloid inches, webpage columns, and radio interviews which occurred with the departed cretin was quite frankly ridiculous. People shouldn’t care about what a nobody thrust into the public concious think about their time stuck with other nobodies. Yet they did. And I’m still struggling to explain it.

Of course, what we are now left with is hope. Now that the original sin has gone there is hope that some others may follow suit. We can but hope that the likes of X-Factor, Come Dine With Me, Strictly et al will go the way of the Brother. We can but hope.

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