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July 10, 2000 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2000-07-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


'Brother' transcends
reality TV' label

By Aaron Rich
Daily Arts Writer

To let the cat out of the bag, I'm a
fan of CBS's new show "Big
' rother." I think it's gotten a bad rap
om too many critics and viewers
for being a rip off of the MTV show
"The Real World." If "Big Brother"
were simply a bunch of strangers liv-
ing in a house
and whining all TELEVISION
the time about
how their bank Commentary
accounts are
being drained by their dead-beat
boyfriends' heroin habit then I could
see the connection. But CBS has
ought something entirely new to
ne TV screen: reality.
Taken from a European TV series,
"Big Brother" brings 10 strangers of
all ages together to live in a very
sparsely decorated house that they
are not allowed to leave. They live in
the building for as many as three
months (unless they are voted out or
walk out the door before then) and
ve to find or create their own
tertainment. That's right. The
house guests, as CBS has dubbed
them, do not have any access to the
outside world through phones, TVs
newspapers or computers.
They basically can play cards,
work in the small
vegetable garden
in the backyard,
mind the egg-lay-
ing chickens, sit
in the kiddy pool
0 talk to one
another.
And talk is what they do most of
the time. To make the show into a
game, guests are voted out of the
house a different points in the sum-
mer so that the last contestant who
emerges from the house in mid-
September wins S500,000.
And one more twist, the people
- living in the house right now (as
you are reading this) and eager
viewers who are not satisfied with
the few clips they see on TV can
watch and listen to the house guests
on the Internet anytime of the day.
(Hey, look, right now the gang is
sitting around a table eating break-
fast and getting to know each other
better. Wow, those scrambled eggs
look really tasty. Oh, don't spill the
salt, dear.)
This is a true revolution in televi-
n viewing. Before, there was
always an understanding that charac-
ters from our favorite shows only
lived for the hour or so that the
episode was on the air. Any other
time of the day, they where not
around - at least we could not prove
their existence.
Now, when the show is not on, the
haracters are still acting and the
ory continues (much like a real
person's life - granted these are
real people and they are simply con-
tinuing to live their lives). Any time
we want to see what is happening on

the TV show "Big Brother" all we
need to do is turn on a computer.
Prime time is quickly losing its
meaning and importance.
What is gaining importance
and it couldn't come at a better time
- is interpersonal interaction.
Talking - yes, that ancient form of
communication which only a few
years ago looked like it was going
the way of the dodo bird thanks to
television and electronic communi-
cation - is back and it's really inter-
esting.
Unlike "The Real World," where
everyone is roughly the same age
and dealing with rather similar prob-
lems of overbearing parents, sex and
the job hunt, the house guests on
"Big Brother" come from extremely
different places and times.
There is something especially
honest about the conversations
between these people. CBS has
forced these 10 people from a big
melting pot into a smaller pan mak-
ing it necessary for them to talk.
At one point on Friday, the two
black house guests began talking
about how they will be seen by their
house mates -- and in turn by the
viewers, a majority of whom are no
doubt white. Cassandra, a 38 year-
old communication officer for the
United Nations (wow, that's one hell
of a job!)
explained to
William, a 28
year-old youth
* counselor from
Philadelphia, that
if he did not tone
down his super-
hip-urban-black-man attitude, he
was going to upset the others in the
house.
As important as this conversation
was for these two minority house
guests, jt reveals tons of information
about our society - information
that even good screenwriters have
difficulty putting in movies. Should
a black man have to change his ways
just to be liked by whites? How
black is too black for prime time?
When was the last time that George,
a roofing contractor and father of
three kids from Rockford, Ill., spent
a few days with a black man?
When I think that in the next few
months these house guests will miss
all of the world events that most of us
take for granted (the Democratic and
Republican National Conventions, to
name a few), be forced to fill their
time solely with basic house mainte-
nance and conversation and lose all
sense of privacy, I wonder if I would
be willing to go through it myself. I
think I'm pretty good at talking, but I
still don't know yet. I'm really happy,
though, that 10 people have already
volunteered before me. Maybe this
talking thing will catch on.
- "Big Brother" air Mondy-
Tucsday and Thursday-Saturday at 88
p.mt. or log onto the show:s Web page'
at wwswst.bigbrother2000.comt for
more information.

Shake up your son

NINA GORDON NEVE
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