I vowed at the end of 2004 that I would NEVER willingly watch Big Brother for the rest of my life. Having worked for the people who manage the ZZZ-listers, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than to encourage the ousted housemates that they are worthy celebrities and have futures in showbusiness. The show’s moral standards continue to be lowered as the years pass, but BB has sunk to a new low this year – a feat I didn’t think would be possible on the back of the turkey slapping debacle of 2006.
The things I know about BB since 2005 are gleaned from newspaper headlines and snippets from friends who are still occasionally watching the show. Last year’s sexual assault (because that’s what it was!!) captured on night vision cameras made headlines nationwide, even prompting the PM to comment on the stupidity of the show. This year, in the face of dwindling public interest and TV ratings, the people behind BB have sunken to new depths of contempt.
BB forced a young woman who went through the trauma of a stillbirth to nurse a mechanical baby. The people behind BB knew this young woman had endured a stillbirth, an experience undoubtedly leaving an indelible mark on her life. Granted, the young woman told one and all involved that she was over her sad loss, but seriously, does one ever get over the trauma of going through the pains and rigours of labour to not have a healthy crying child to hold? I’m not a trained psychologist, but I’m willing to bet the answer is a resounding NO.
In their infinite wisdom, the BB team decided to push on with the task of making the housemates nurse mechanical babies, even though there was every opportunity for the task to backfire and cause further emotional distress to the young woman. And what do you know? The young woman suffered a meltdown of sorts, bawled her eyes out and refused to participate in the task, and psychologists and family groups were up in arms over the cruelty of the BB team to allow the introduction and continuation of the task. Lo and behold, everyone was watching BB for a few minutes to see the fallout from the young woman’s meltdown. Ratings shot up and everyone was happy – everyone, that is, except for the poor lass whose fragile emotional state was exploited.
My mate Suz still occasionally tunes into the show and she told me about a task that had me shaking my head. BB imprisoned some contestants in a room and forced them to compete for a chance to enter the house as a proper housemate. Nothing new here – the housemates themselves are locked inside a house, so the word "imprisonment" might be a little harsh. That is until you saw the room itself. It had no windows and everything inside the room was white – the walls, the ceilings, the floors, the doors, the furniture and furnishings. Everything was white – even the contestants’ clothing and microphones were white. The room may as well have been a torture chamber, with a big red button in the middle of the room to be hit by those who wanted out. The last person to hit the button would be granted entry into the house. And yes, Suz mentioned that by the end of the first week inside this white room, some of the contestants were starting to show real signs of mental distress. I had but one question for these people so willing to be tortured: why?
The latest headline grabbing incident involves another young woman and her late father. At the time of entering the house, the young woman’s father was still alive, although he was reportedly at the end stages of his battle with cancer. The young woman and her father were reportedly estranged, but were also reportedly working on reconciliation. The young woman still entered the house, even though there was always the possibility of her father dying before she was ousted. And sure enough, her father passed away and was buried earlier this week.
The uproar surrounding the show now is the fact that the young woman is unaware that her father had died, and that she had missed his funeral. The papers reported that it was her father’s dying wish for his daughter to remain unaware of his passing until she was ousted from the house. The papers also reported that it was the young woman’s wishes to be kept in the dark should news of her father passing away reach the BB team. There are so many questions of ethics and morals here that I don’t even know where to begin.
Why on earth did she continue with her quest to be on BB when her father was dying?
Is the young woman so desperate for her 15 seconds of fame that she was willing to give up any chance of fully reconciling with the man who gave her life?
Why is the BB team insistent on keeping the news of her father’s death hidden from the young woman?
How will the BB team deal with the fallout from this latest incident, which in my opinion is both immoral and unethical in their deceit towards the young woman?
Death is final. It happens once. Same for the departed’s funeral. There is no do-over. And no, watching it on DVD is not the same as being there in person.
I am concerned for the mental wellbeing of this young woman, who may forever associate her time in the BB house with the death of her father and the lost opportunities of sharing his final moments with him. And I am angry with the BB team, whose continued silence and refusal to reveal the truth to the young woman has clearly shown the contempt they have for the housemates.
What will they think of next? Staging a murder inside the house? It’s time to go, Big Brother.