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The reality show Big Brother has become a television institution in the last decade that has been around. Shown in many countries for many seasons, the interesting part seems to be how the different versions approach the format, trying to adapt the idea to make the most advertising dollar.
One could argue that in this format, one could look at that countries dominant social values. Looking at the main Big Brothers, it breaks down like this.
US Big Brother
America’s Big Brother has one of the greatest differences in that the format allows the contestants to vote off each other (Surviver style). The show is heavily geared towards tactics, and the eventually win. In the US version, winning is everything.
UK Big Brother
The British Big Brother is one of the most sensationalist of the format. The producers pride themselves in finding the most outrageous characters available, picked specifically because they will not get along. The whole show seems to cater for tabloid headlines, with good guys and bad guys. Contestants are often booed by the audience when evicted.
Australian Big Brother
Australian Big Brother in now it’s seventh series. Winning Big Brother has never ben an important task to many of our contestants. Often thsoe who try to are kicked out for this very reason. Oten those that win are those who are the most ‘likeable’, and by that I mean those who are the least offensive.
The newest season just aired is the biggest shake up that the show has seen. Gone is the protective mother-like host Gretel Colleen and now we have radio shock jock Kyle Sanderlands and model Jackie O hosting the proceedings. The contestants are a different breed as well, some have called them a ‘freak show’. With a midget, an ex cult member and a racist grandmother, this is certainly one of the most diverse group we have seen (don’t worry, the Paris Hilton wannabe and bricklayer are still there).
The group is very much like something we may see on the UK Big Brother, but seems the actual format may be steering towards the US version. The first night, locked out of the house, the contestants must decide between themselves who goes. Making the contestants fight for their own survival, tactics come into play.
So is this reflecting where we are as a society now? The radical shake-up comes after falling ratings from previous years Big Brother. The producers have decided that this is what we want to see, at this moment. Looking at where this series is going, it suggests that we have been made aware of the glass between the tv set and the Big Brother house. It’s certainly one of the most ethnically diverse casts, but there is an element here of an us vs them mentality. Rather than the ‘fair go and mateship’ mentality of previous seasons, we are setting these characters up for a fight.
The thing about Big Brother is that it gives us almost instant feedback. Our social values can be seen in who we vote out of the house, and who we keep in. Whether the viewers see the glass between the set and the house? Will we egg on the fighting, or swoon in like protective mothers again? Your 55 cents will decide.