When Big Brother started, I, like the rest of the UK was captivated, the Truman show brought alive! We could relate to the housemates and the encounters they faced, warming to some and despising others. But this is manufactured entertainment more than social documentary – these people are the extremes of society, placed in an extreme environment, the episodes are manufactured, the players are manipulated.
We see some housemates as freaks, bullies, scapegoats who we can blame for societies degradation, while some are the loveable characters – the victims; Nadia “the transsexual” or Pete “the tourette’s sufferer”, whose exposure helps to make society more accepting of difference. In many ways the show does reflect the society we live in, different classes or social groups, elements of the characters reside in all of us. However, it is the meaning and controversy that we extract from the show, issues bubbling under the surface of society, rather than the characters themselves, that we use to construct totems for society’s ills.
Unlike Truman, the housemates know that they are being watched, they know that they could leave BB into a life of “celebrity” and win a huge cash prize, they perform and create parodies of themselves which might just strike a chord with the public – is Jade Goody really as dumb as she would have us believe?
- Paul Williams