Thursday, January 18, 2007
For once in my life I am with the Graun and it's commentators entirely (see link). I will plead with my friends on the blogosphere who give this vile show credibility and treat it as harmless fun to stop and think again.
Shilpa may be famous and can probably handle it. That is not the case with everyone who enters the Big Brother house. Most of them are ordinary people who are very often vulnerable with mental health problems. Which makes them prime candidates for bullying.
The treatment of Shilpa on CBB appears to say more about the mentality of the contestants than it says about her. Which isn't funny either. Ignorance and bigotry are not fun to watch, neither are the people who display them. Neither is it fun to see one person singled out like that.
I was bullied at school so I recognise the mentality of many of the contestants and the audience. A 'freak' or somebody who is at least different (Shilpa is Indian, don't forget) is singled out to be a scapegoat and along with being filmed gets their face rubbed in the dirt of the British tabloids. You may say as much as you want that they go on the show voluntarily - indeed they do. But people do all kinds of stupid things voluntarily. Does that mean you must validate it by watching the spectacle?
Now don't get me wrong - I would oppose any kind of censorship. Ultimately if the contestants want to make idiots of themselves by taking part in what is a modern day freak show ( I believe Victorian circus freaks got paid as well, or they got some kind of a living at least) the decision must rest with them, and alas, the producers who have the idea of filming such a thing. Whatever the intelligence or mental health of the contestants I don't want to strip them of free will and look like a patronising middle class moraliser. But that does not mean I have to watch the show. Neither does anyone else.
To the left of the shows viewers I'll posit to them that most of the contestants they laugh at are members of the class they claim to champion - the working class. How can you claim to champion a group of people yet revel in their (partially self inflicted) humiliation at the same time? Most of the people on that show are working class because they are the ones poor and desperate enough to need the money. Toffs don't need it, neither do the 'educated' middle classes. Celeb BB may be slightly different - but hey, we have a new kind of celebrity, don't we?
What does the show say about the mentality of the audience? That you are following what is in essence a pack mentality. You should know better, and if you don't so far then please think about it a bit. Viewing that stuff is worse than viewing S&M porn - hell, there is not even any direct sexual release. It serves to satisfy a kind of sadism but one which is repressed in the British masses, one which has its outlets in the likes of this show. It serves the voyeur but there is nobody naked.
Just some poor idiot being ganged up on, for God's sake. Is it really what it's cracked up to be? True, some of the people who participate may well be exhibitionists. Good luck to them. But what about those who are not exhibitionists but are simply vulnerable for whatever reason? Why engage in what is essentially an act of voyeuristic sadism? If you inclined that way there must be other means. Join a fetish club or something.
As I've stated, the racist treatment of a wealthy actress by a few ignorant people may not in the long run be much to get worked up over. She may well be together enough to handle it by now, having been in the limelight for so long. Actors are used to this, they are exhibitionists by trade. But not everyone who goes on BB is a professional actor. Most are not, despite their hopes of becoming famous.
I forget who it was who said that acting was the most masochistic form of exhibitionism. But they were wrong. Reality TV has turned out to be, a media which is yet at the same time is not acting. It is midway between acting and 'reality'. It is not 'reality' yet it is not a film or play either as it is not scripted. Yet it would also be wrong to call this improvised acting. The 'actors' are playing themselves and they do not know when they may be filmed.