Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Big Brother, Where Art Thou?

Now the dust has settled following last week’s Big Brother launch, I feel I am now ready to pass judgment on this year’s motley assortment of desparados, wannabes and weirdos, thrown together by fate (and a bunch of misguided casting directors) all in the name of popular entertainment.

However, after cringing my way through the initial hour and a half launch show, I somehow don’t think I’ll be watching much of this year’s series – and not just because my husband has threatened to divorce me if my finger so much as hovers with intent over the well-worn E4 button on the TV remote.

Watching these poor fools make their entrance into the house last week, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be struck by a disturbingly misogynistic trend. Almost all of the women who entered the house were booed furiously, while the men, on the whole, received good-natured cheers. There were a few notable exceptions of course, namely Iranian bighead Siavesh and posh twit Freddie, whose idiotic posturing and crowd-baiting were to blame for their scathing receptions – but by and large, the female contingent’s greatest crime appeared to be, well, being female.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the ladies in question were necessarily deserving of a royal reception – Big Brother is a pantomime after all, and what pantomime doesn’t boo the baddies and cheer the goodies? It’s just this automatic assumption that girls are all nasty and boys are all nice which worries me somewhat. Even more distressing is the knowledge that the launch night audience was largely made up of – yes, you guessed it – women.
Not that the casting directors are doing us womenfolk any favours. Let’s see: we have the obligatory bottle blonde, mega-boobed porn star (attractive and doesn’t mind getting her kit off – big boo for you young lady!), the gorgeous Irish lass who chirruped away in her VT about exposing her ‘flangita’ in public (who do you think you are – Britney? Another big boo), followed by a second, arguably superfluous glamour girl and WAG-wannabe (cue more boos, hisses etc).
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, we have the bi-curious manhater who sees men as sperm donors, the super-butch, frankly terrifying lesbian who enjoys chasing straight girls (nice bit of gay stereotyping by the way Mr Casting Director) and, possibly one of the strangest contestants ever to grace the Big Brother house, Russian oddball Angel - ostensibly the lovechild of a Victorian circus ringmaster and Helena Bonham-Carter in Sweeney Todd.

Not exactly the greatest advertisement for womankind, I’ll grant you – but then, you have to wonder how many ‘normal’ women would be insane enough to want to take part in this battle for supremacy between the mindblowingly egotistical and fantastically stupid that BB has now become.

Call me old-fashioned, but I quite liked the days when Big Brother was just about watching the housemates fall over after drinking too much cider and engage in the odd embarrassing fumble under the duvet.

But it looks like I’m behind the times. These days, according to the programme-makers and commissioning editors at Channel 4, it’s all about shock value and confrontation television. Which leads me to wonder: am I really the only one who wants them all to just get along?


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