Big Brother- cultural experiment or social entertainment?

When asked the question- do you contribute to what is known as the public sphere? I immediately answer yes. Everyday we are exposed to what is considered to be a global village, mainly through the presence of the Internet and television. Through media flows such as posting blogs, pictures and creating opinionated Facebook statuses, we are contributing to globalization and the public sphere. Within this public sphere, citizens are able to voice opinions, share thoughts, experiences and ultimately- their culture.

A prime and modern day example of this is Big Brother- the reality series that reflects a social experiment where cultures, values and beliefs are exchanged between strangers. As much as people conform and lose a sense of individuality, everyone is different, resulting in clashes or friendships.

The nation watches on, there is a global village taking place, where citizens from different backgrounds are forced to spend day in, day out, with each other. In other words, Big Brother poses literal example of a public sphere- with the public being the housemates and the sphere being the boundaries of the house. Conversations and behaviors will result in either agreements or values and morals will clash. Big Brother creates this for television and pure entertainment. The intention behind this reality series, questions the prominence of dominant groups and whether it is exerting a hegemonic view towards the world- through the power of the media.

According to Steven (2003) ‘hegemony is achieved when the power of the dominant groups in society appears natural’. In the Big Brother house, the equivalent could be the dominant personalities over the shy and timid- a natural and common assumption. Steven (2003) also states that hegemony ‘works within everyday culture and seems to provide a frame for understanding experience’.

On the notion of online forums and blogs, at what point do we ask ourselves, are we subconsciously being watched and monitored by gatekeepers and watchdogs, therefore do we become self conscious and more aware of we say?

Reference: Steven, P 2003, ‘Political economy: the howling, brawling, global market place’, The no-nonsense guide to the global media, New Internationalist, Oxford, pp. 37–59.


3 thoughts on “Big Brother- cultural experiment or social entertainment?

  1. Today my kids ask if they could watch BB, it did not take me take long to realize the kind of misguided representations of what we call australians. It is clearly very homogenous and shall we say, bogan, plain and simple. I did not see many cultures represented there, except for the new arrival who was clearly labelled as homosexual, and instantly recognized, his otherness stood up. The funny reality of this all Big Brother looks small when compare to the more ‘real’ big brother surveillance state we happen to live in. If you are in Twitter i recomend you follow the #trapwire hashtag and see what are the effects of international globalization when it comes to security and why this is not just happening in the tele.

  2. Hi Chloe,

    Your blog is very informative and scholarly. There are only a few mistakes grammatically that I would criticize. Your choice of pictures is fantastic it tells its own story which goes well with your piece, which made your blog enjoying to read. And I agree with what you are saying “at what point do we ask ourselves, are we subconsciously being watched and monitored by gatekeepers and watchdogs, therefore do we become self conscious and more aware of we say?”. Most countries at this very moment are in some way or another watching our every move.

  3. Awesome post Chloe! I liked your analogy of Big Brother and the public sphere- that the Big Brother house becomes a place for discourse, much like discourse in the backbone for the public sphere. This is why Big Brother works, or is entertaining; the discourse arising from the house can often challenge dominant world views of both the people in the house, and the people watching the house. The drama when these world views are different is what makes good tv too haha. Your writing is fantastic and good use of images- keep it up!

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