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.





When Trash Ruled the World…

6 06 2008

So it begins. Summer is finally here. After many weeks of waiting, we need wait no longer. Sorry folks, whilst Wimbledon remains a week away, the television trash that is Big Brother has returned to occupy pretty much all of Channel 4’s programming until August.

Now I really dislike such programmes. This dislike isn’t reserved exclusively for BB, no, I dislike all reality TV. My tastes are suited to something with a bit more…effort. Cheap, easy television is, in my opinion, rubbish. Granted when BB was new, it was a revolutionary concept, an interesting social study into relationships and how people interact. Now the format is old, desperately old. Despite attempts at sprucing it up (making Big Brother more and more insanely evil, or putting in as many freaky people as is possible), the show, to my mind at any rate a sad indication of the nature of our celebrity fuelled culture.

Andy Warhol once proclaimed that everyone should have 15 minutes of fame. However, if we are to believe the television listings, the people in the new house probably get about 18 weeks of initial coverage. And then whatever else they can get, mainly through the pages of weekly gossip magazines.

Take this years batch of specially collected folk. They include a blind man and an albino guy. Is this good television? Really? To me it’s an advanced form of the olden day freak shows. The only difference is there are cameras. Offer me the chance to watch something else (even a BBC Four documentary) and I would snap your hand off to avoid watching BB.

What amazes me though is that it remains so popular. Quite why so many people avidly watch a bunch of nobodies sleeping is beyond my comprehension I’m afraid. There is nothing entertaining about it. It is a group of people. They eat, sleep and s**t. Yet so many people find this fascinating. Why? What is so enthralling about people living in a contained environment and being subjected to various mental trials? If it were guinea pigs, the animal rights protestors would have a field day.

I’m going to stop there, partly because I am annoying myself too much, and partly because I don’t want to bore you. Suffice it to say, I will strive to avoid Channel 4 for the next few months. I just wish more people thought like this, so that the programme could be cancelled due to declining viewing figures. Trouble is, they don’t.