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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Aussies Take

Here's an interesting article from an Aussie site... Of course, they're talking about the Aussie and Brit versions of the show, but the same ideas apply here...

Big Brother: pop culture in a Petri dish?
by Carolyn Webb
July 31, 2006
ABC TV host Andrew Denton dubs it a "heap of crap".

But what's most surprising, is who's actually loving the show.

Author John Birmingham has found himself transfixed by how the show probes the grey areas of human interaction, how participants manipulate each other and how they deal with fame. Birmingham, who studied postgraduate psychology, says Big Brother is "like the most fascinating experiment I've ever seen".

"Ethically, we weren't allowed to do that kind of thing at university, but if we had been, it would have been enormous fun," he says.

The show has "an unusual faux-Orwellian aspect to it that is irresistible". Two years ago, he and a friend, literary critic Peter Craven, spent two hours over dinner at a Melbourne restaurant discussing Big Brother."That's probably a little tragic in some ways, but we certainly didn't discuss novels or literature or poetry; we were totally into the TV show."

Age film critic Jim Schembri says intellectuals watch Big Brother more for what it says about pop culture than its content: "The issue of loss of privacy … the willingness of people to surrender dignity for the sake of instant and very fleeting fame on television and the culture of celebrity."

But Richard Fidler, a former satirist with Doug Anthony Allstars, and now a Brisbane-based ABC radio announcer, reckons the oldies' interest might be more in the vein of. "Oh, so that's what twentysomething westies are doing their hair like these days", with a fair dollop of old-fashioned voyeurism.

He says he debated the merits of Big Brother with friends in Sydney last month, who denounced it and "came down like a tonne of bricks" on him when he declared their snubbing of the show was "a kind of low-level snobbery".


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