Why watching Big Brother can improve you as a person

The original in car-crash reality television is not so dumb and
trashy as people think. Watching BB can imrpove you in business and wider life.

Big Brother 8 has come to a close, with Brian being named as the winner. A
marathon 94 days saw housemates put through a range of tasks, emotions and
touched on some very sensitive and topical subjects that caused some
embarrassment for the host broadcaster, Channel 4.

The first series of Big Brother started a wave of reality shows based around
the fundamental principle of evicting people from the show. Whether it is a
house, an island or a community, the principle remained the same. As reality
shows rose and fell, and viewing figures rose and fell accordingly, Big Brother
remains the king of all reality TV. However, admit to watching it and you face
ridicule, derision and may find yourself at the butt of jokes. But is this
right? When it started, the show was on the loose premise of a psychological
experiment. Now, it is more a means to an end – the end being a B-list celebrity
filling the front pages of the gossip rags.

Watching the show in its recent form screams out wannabe nobodys, unable to
make a career on their own using whatever talent they had. One could argue that
even if the housemates had talent, they would be better off going to an
alternative reality show designed for the purpose, such as Fame Academy or
X-Factor. No, these housemates truly are talentless wannabes, often from the
dregs of society. This doesn’t mean we love them any less, though.

Looking past this, however, and we can really see how the show can benefit
not only the housemates, but also the viewers. The housemates meet a variety of
challenges, some introduced by Big Brother to keep them busy, some covertly
applied to try and influence emotions within the house and some that are
entirely natural. These challenges test very different aspects of each
housemate, and from this, we can learn from the housemates and apply them to our wider life – to our personal benefit.

Housemates face a variety of tasks, set by Big Brother to keep the housemates
busy. Whether the task is a small task to win a reward, or a week-long task to
earn a Shopping Budget, the tasks require basic social principles such as
teamwork, leadsership and ability to behave in an acceptable if not entirely
professional way.

Take the first shopping task faced by this years contestants, for example. A
simple task of donning a Sardine Suit and lying in a tub of fish filth. Sure it
was wet, it was cold and it stunk. But this task was testing two basic skills:
teamwork and tenacity. Firstly, the housemates needed to get together and agree
to do the task. Whine as much as you like, girls (at this point the house was
mostly girls), but get on with it. Secondly, the housemates needed to STAY in
the fish filth. One member leaving the fish tub would cause the task to be
failed. And indeed, they didn’t win the full Shopping Budget as a result of
housemates collectively agreeing to fail the task – possibly not the type of
teamwork Big Brother had in mind.

Teamwork is such a basic skill, it should have been learnt in schools and the
workplace. But most of these housemates are young, naive and in some cases,
unemployable. So this was probably an ideal opportunity to learn. On failing,
Big Brother was quick to punish the housemates by excludng them from washing
facilities. A quick, short, sharp shock that would hopefully gee the housemates
up for the next task.

Watching this task is evidently easier than sitting in fish filth yourself,
but as  a viewer, you can still learn from it. Learn from the primadonnas who
whined and yelped as the fish filth oozed into their suits. Learn from the
collective teamwork in singing their way through the task to try and lift
spirits. Finally, learn about the repurcussions of not completing the task in
hand.

Sure, this is a trivial and mundane example. As the series developed,
however, we started to see very challenging emotions ranging from love through
hate and racial obscenities.

Emily learnt that the “n” word is not entirely appropriate for everyday
conversation. On saying the racial obscenity, she thought she was being “in”,
but found herself at the tail-end of a recent racial row involving the previous
series of Big Brothers contestant, Jade Goody. Sure, rappers and members of the
black community may call each other and you may use it in everyday conversation
with your mates back home, but there is essential learning in identifying when
and where it is appropriate to use such words. By cracking down on this
immediately, Channel 4 were keen on not conveying the same ambiguity as
previously seen. Racial obscenities are unacceptable when viewers (and therefore
other people) may be offended. As a viewer, it was easy to draw from this,
hopefully helping to reduce racial disharmony and inappropriate social
language.

Ziggy faced an emotional roller-coaster with Posh-Spice wannabe Chanelle when
they became romantically involved in the house. The supposed most intelligent
housemate (measured by IQ) was clearly not well emotionally developed in her
dealing with her feelings. Mistakes were made on both sides, and viewers could
see a torteous and disturbing relationship and repeated break-up playing out in
front of them every night. All the cliches were seen, such as “down time” and
“it’s not you, it’s me” as famously claimed y Ziggy. Now, it seems, men will
have to come up with a more thoughtful break-up line. Whether this experience
helped existing relationships is not known and is probably highly doubtful, but
viewers could gain an insight into both parties’ feelings. We could see the
‘confidential’ discussions Chanelle and Ziggy had with with Big Brother, showing
their feelings to BB and the nation. We could see the pained expression on both
faces as insults and insinuations were thrown around the house. As a person, one
could draw many things from this experience.

The series exposed many more emotional issues. The quick-to-anger Charley
soon became the most hated housemate with her diatribe of abuse and lack of
ability to listen to others’ opinions and arguments. Arguing can be such a basic
and yet important skill both in personal life and in business. Raised discussion
is inevitable, and it is essential that people know how to conduct themselves.
Charley showed the nation how somebody who is not considerate of others can be
received, and it frustrated the viewers so much she was evicted – twice. Viewers
were quick to see how throwing insults around is inappropriate and giving
opportunity for response by others is also essential. A one-sided argument is
not an argument – it is an attack. Charley’s physical presence was also very
threatening, coming close to people she argued with and invading personal space.
This was always bound to create reciprocating anger from other housemates. When arguing yourself, in your personal life and in business, it is always worth
while remembering Charley to try and maintain a sense of control.

Big Brother can’t just teach individuals lessons, however. It can also give
key lessons to the authorities. This year, we have seen two very difficult to
accept situations.

There is a culture of worklessness developing, whereby people aspire to wives
and girlfriends of footballers, able to weild hefty credit cards without the
work that should come before them. Charley was the public face of this culture.
Unemployed, yet able to afford Gucci boots worth more than £100 is a paradox
that should not fail to be viewed by any politician or public figure as being
highly concerning. Social Welfare is an essential part of society, but when it
produces people who specifically avoid working, it becomes a challenging social
problem.

Secondly, in the Twins and Brian (both aged 19-20), we have seen appalling
knowledge of basic facts provided in every secondary school. Much as the
housemates were loved by the public, particularly The Twins and Brian, it should
come as a shock to every viewer that the education system has produced three
people who do not possess basic facts. For example, Brian did not know who
Shakespeare was. Not only that, but when told who he was, and when he was born,
he was unable to comprehend by his work is still so important to us. Sure,
Shakespeare to most is just a literary text we read to get through our GCSE’s
and will probably never revisit in our lives, but it’s one of those very British
facts that every Biritish citizen should know as well as knowing how to claim
unemployment benefit. The Twins were recently shown to be particularly naive in
basic physical concepts, not understanding what The Universe was and that The
Moon was smaller than The Earth. Naive statements such as “I want the thin
slices of ham, not the ones with pig in it” and the seemingly increased
grammatically accepted misuse of the word “what” (for example, “it is he what
done it”) aside, how these university-attending girls were unaware of such basic
principles reflects badly on the education system.

Now, at the close of its 8th series, Big Brother has seen huge successes and
is seeing a very different housemate applying. Intellectually-able figures of
Big Brother (Stuart of BB4, Gerri and Johnty of BB8) face problems integrating
into the group due to their intelligence while shallow wannabe’s such as Charley
and Chanelle enjoy riches and media deals beyond their wildest dreams. BB is
something very different from its first series, but it continues to teach us as
viewers and as a wider society, very important lessons. The housemates prove
useful in teaching us, without needing us to upset those close to us.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s