CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Big Brothel Finally Bites the Dust

Jul 14, 2008

When there is so much bad news around, it is great to get some good news once in a while. And it doesn’t get much better than to learn that Big Brother will no longer be disgracing our small screens. The Ten Network has just announced that it will not run the show next year. The last episode for this year will be aired on July 21.

Although this decision is eight years overdue, I can hear the popping of champagne corks all around the country. Millions of Australians will be able to sleep better at night, knowing this trash is no longer contaminating our airwaves.

The 1316 episodes of the show were certainly 1316 episodes too many. BB was arguably one of the worst shows ever to air on Australian television. Big Brothel was one big excuse for voyeurism, gratuitous sex, and the exploitation of young people – all so that the fat cats at the Ten Network could line their pockets.

It was always a cheap, crass gimmick, which revelled in controversy and shock value. It of course was never serious TV, and its producers were always happy to aim for the gutter. And the gutter is where it stayed.

The first Big Brother appeared in the Netherlands in 1999. It ran for 4 seasons, but was then cancelled due to poor ratings (boring characters, lack of ideas, etc.) Two more seasons were tried in 2005 and 2006, but they too came to an end. It still enjoys some success in other parts of the world.

Although known as a version of reality TV, it certainly never had anything to do with reality. Just where in the real world do hormonally-charged young people live in cramped quarters, with communal beds and showers, plied with all the free alcohol they can consume? This totally artificial environment was always designed to bring out the worst in young people, and to show off as much flesh and debauchery as possible.

Ratings of course had been going down over the past several years, but the corpse of BB had to keep being dragged out. Indeed, it was a corpse from episode one onwards, but the amoral TV execs at Channel Ten were happy to get rich off such prurient voyeurism.

Of course BB is not the only sleazeball show to air on television in the past decade. There have been plenty of other contenders for the worst show of the year. But BB excelled in pushing all the wrong buttons, all in the name of ratings and revenue.

Of course don’t expect things to get any better in the future. While the removal of BB ranks up there with the Geelong Cats Premiership, and the invention of penicillin, the Ten Network has already said it will introduce a similar “reality” show in 2010.

While ordinary Australians are rejoicing in this decision, critics will roll out the usual excuses: ‘if you don’t like it, don’t watch it’. But that totally misses the point. To put it crudely, crap matters. And when crap is beamed into our homes on prime time television, the negative effects will be forthcoming.

The general coarseness and crassness of such shows does wear off on those who watch it. And those who don’t watch it will still be on the receiving end of those who do. The more immoral, perverted and juvenile our entertainment tastes become, the more that will filter through to the entire community.

It’s sort of like passive smoking. Non-smokers still pay a price for what smokers do. And when we dumb down a whole generation by crap shows like this, it affects everyone in the end. And the worrying thing is, as the shock value wears down, television networks then look for something even more shocking, more offensive, and more disgusting.

So there is a downward spiral to all this, and it does have an impact on us all. If every decent Australian threw out their television sets, they will still be subject to toxic programming in the form of down-stream pollution from those who still continue to soak it up. The whole culture is tarnished by such programming.

So it is tremendous news that this particular bit of sewage is finally over. But don’t expect things to be all sweetness and light henceforth. As I said, the networks are only interested in one thing: ratings and revenue. There are no limits to human depravity, and the big boys at the networks are surely already planning the next primetime outrage.

In the past, boycotts of offensive shows have proven to be effective. Targeting the advertisers of sleazy shows has cut the number of sponsors, and with it, advertising revenue. A number of shows have been pulled off the air over the years using this technique.

Undoubtedly it will need to be used again. Sure, simply turning off the tele is one part of the solution. But as I said, it does not solve the whole problem. Unfortunately those concerned about decent programming will have to get more involved and active in sharing their concerns when the need arises.

But simply remaining silent helps no one. The free-to-air networks have an obligation not to pump toxic television into our homes on a daily basis. And we have an obligation to speak out when standards decline too far, and the boundaries are pushed too widely. If we do not speak out, things will only get worse.

So enjoy the champagne over this particular win, but expect more heated battles in the future.

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8 Responses to Big Brothel Finally Bites the Dust

  • This is indeed good news Bill and we surely need something to give us hope that all is not lost!

    Well done in all your efforts to expose this garbage TV for what it is!

    Peter Coventry

  • I’m surprised somewhat that it took them this long to get around to cancelling it, but then again, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups!

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  • The televised election of the office of mayor of London took place this year, 1st May, and it took no imagination to draw a comparison with the televised voting process of Big Brother. Out of the final, ten candidates representing the major and minor political parties, there was Alan Craig of the Christian Choice Party. Even though he came fifth in the final election, he rated bottom as a potential candidate by the hustings and his televised speech was politically censored by the BBC and ITV.

    The BBC and ITV’s attempt to scramble and gut Allan Craig’s text of his London mayoral election broadcast, of any meaning and sense, should stand as another warning signal as to the way the British nation is insidiously being converted to secularism. His Christian voice, may be the last heard in British politics, before the lights go out completely.

    This year’s televised London mayoral contest was nothing but another version of Big Brother, with Brian Paddick being included as the obligatory homosexual representative of an oppressed, bullied, minority victim class that would include many who presently run the government and media industry. One wonders why the BBC and ITV didn’t included a transvestite or transgender person in the line up? Obviously, for fear that this might wake up the British public, they need to tread softly. Next time definitely.

    Ever since the sixties, there have been numerous signs on the broad and gently sloping highway of moral decay in Britain. One of many that flashed past, unnoticed, was in 2003 when Big Brother was about to fold and it was claimed by Barbara Ellen in the Sunday Observer, August 22nd 2004, that this was due to a Christian, Cameron Stout from Aberdeen, winning the contest! She said:

    “It wouldn’t be too wild a claim to say that Nadia (a transvestite) has single-handedly ‘saved’ the Big Brother franchise. She certainly revitalised it, giving it a much broader and deeper emotional appeal. Big Brother 2003, when ‘Cameron the Christian’ won, was an acknowledged flop. This year, the makers, Endemol, pulled out all the stops, delivering ‘evil’ Big Brother. They were rewarded with nude lawn-mowing, bitterly polarised cliques, sex under a table, and a fight so bad the show was taken off the air temporarily, not to mention the customary newspaper headlines screaming about exploitation and the moral decline of the nation. Whether you loved it or loathed it, or did both at once, no one could deny that Big Brother was on form again.”

    Is it really a fact of life that the public no longer wants to hear the true truth and, like the baying mob attending the gladiatorial contests of Roman times, only want their itching ears to be entertained with the latest idea? Even serious debating programmes like the BBC’s Question Time, with David Dimbleby in the Chair, is also becoming a public spectacle, where transvestites, like Grayson Perry, sit side by side with serious politicians and reasoned debate is drowned by the baying mob. Finally the English, liberal Christians, drown out truth by respectable, slow handclapping and hymns that must be a stench in the God’s nostrils. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7504472.stm

    David Skinner, UK

  • Anyone have any idea how someone can actually complain to a television network? I have tried in the past and it seems that they can’t make it any more difficult to voice your concerns.
    Edi Giudetti

  • W00t! I can feel my IQ climbing again.
    Michael Mifsud

  • Thanks Edi

    Yes the networks can be quite unhelpful and unresponsive. But we need to have our voices heard. You can also contact ACMA, although they tend to be not much better: http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/HOMEPAGE/PC=HOME
    As I say, targeting the advertisers can be quite effective as well. It may be frustrating to go through these processes, but we must keep at it. So thanks for speaking up, and keep trying.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Another name I’ve coined for Big Brother is Big Feral.
    Sadly that is what is happening to our young people as a result of poor or non existent religious practice and lack of parental closeness and interest in them.
    On tonight’s TV news seeing the ferals push condoms in the faces of young Catholic pilgrims is a plus for us all because many viewers of even no religion would see that those young committed pilgrims as well as those returning to the Faith didn’t deserve the inner city rent a crowd haters. There is hope.
    Michael Webb

  • Michael W,
    They may have pushed the condoms into the pilgrims faces but it was nice to see the young Catholics were not only polite but enthusiastically REFUSED the offer.

    I wonder if we turned up at the gay mardi gras and handed out anti-homosexual tracts and wore provocative t-shirts if we would have had the same generous reception.

    I have to say, I am not a Catholic anymore but the enthusiasm of all the youngsters wandering the city singing hymns and having a general enthusiasm for Jesus and Christianaity warms my heart.

    Michael Mifsud

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