Yesterday, I read an article at the Guardian about Big Brother 3 in the UK, which among other things mentioned that Channel 4’s editing of the primetime programmes results in a drastically skewed view of the contestants. I thought, “Well, obviously.”
Then last night, while watching Big Brother 2 here in the US (I see it as an ethological exercise) I found myself being driven into a frenzy by the apparent evil character of pretty much everyone on the show. During a break, I paused to ponder why there’d been such a reversal in the personalities of all the contestants who were seemingly nice the week before, and of course then I remembered the Guardian article.
It seems that Big Brother represents the ultimate in media manipulation; while many people including myself have had the misfortune of being quoted out of context in the media, if you’re careful about what you say, you can avoid too much unhappiness. However, when everything you do and say is being recorded constantly, it would take a phenomenal effort to prevent yourself from saying anything incriminating, or making any outbursts. I’m sure that if you recorded me for 24 hours a day, you’d find enough nasty stuff to fill a ten minute clip per week.
Another thing that I’ve noticed while watching US TV is the clever way in which they schedule advert breaks. Apart from being far more (and too) frequent, they’re scheduled so that the end of one programme and the start of the next are invariably not separated by a break. This happens pretty often on series where they show two episodes back to back. It’s quite a clever technique, and I imagine we’ll be seeing it in the UK before long.