I am sitting here watching a grown man cutting raw potatoes.
August 20, 2000 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I am sitting here watching a grown man cutting raw potatoes. Yes I have no life. Do you watch, or am I more pathetic than usual? [more]
posted by ZachsMind (9 comments total)
Woah! How'd I post this twice? That was not by choice.

Actually I just started watching this recently. Caught an episode on the TV by mistake. The live video feeds are more interesting while simultaneously being about nothing whatsoever. Like the Andy Warhol movie of a man sleeping. I was watching Eddie and Jamie dancing earlier which was really touching cuz they don't have any music, and he's only got one leg. I can't bring myself to even watch Survivor but there's something different about Big Brother. I dunno. What do you think?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:32 PM on August 20, 2000

Saw one episode of BB; one weepy mom-type had just been voted out of the house. Cut to an exterior shot as she left the house and ran down a long path to the fence surrounding the complex. I realized what would make the show interesting: sharpshooters. Two guys on towers outside.

It would change the dynamics of nearly every aspect of the show if people had to worry about a hail of bullets when they were voted out. Would you vote out your worst enemy knowing what might happen once they were shoved out the door? Would you want to go yourself?

Likewise, "Survivor" would be interesting if the last remaining person had to stay there, and the island was slated to be used by the French for a nuclear test.
posted by lileks at 9:31 PM on August 20, 2000

Lately the live feeds have been pretty boring - but every so often you'll see/hear something that you know won't make it to the TV broadcast (such as Eddie's racist joke or when the HGs are critical of Big Brother). You can also read re-caps of what is happening on the live feeds typed in by devoted fans.

Oh, and if you're interested in the live video, you may want to try viewing them from the links here so that you don't have to put up with all of those AOL ads.
posted by gluechunk at 9:59 PM on August 20, 2000

Thanks for the live video feed. It's much better having it in the Real Player window. I can doublesize it. DAMN someone just went into the Red Room. I think it was Eddie.. But they changed cameras. Crap I can't find it.

Have you seen the Brittany Cartoons? She is so not gonna make it. I gotta go to bed.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:37 PM on August 20, 2000

Thanks for reminding me to check back, I didn't know they had started posting video archives (instead of those poorly written essays).

I was kinda hooked the first week or so, and had to put up with people who had only seen the TV show and not the web feeds complaining about it. If the web feeds worked over a modem connection (especially bad over an AOL connection), and with a marketing angle emphasizing that the live feeds are the real show, BB might have been more popular.

Three months is a long time, though. Survivor lost a person every week... But I guess with BB it's the strain on the healthy bonding relationships imposed by the voting mechanism that artificially produces conflict (after the first few boots, anyway), so they need time for the HGs to bond...

People that aren't even into the show are rooting for George or Cassandra, though, so the show has enough of a following.
posted by dan_of_brainlog at 2:47 AM on August 21, 2000

It's not a bad following for a first season attempt. Night Court took two or three years to get a fan base going. Most shows take awhile to find thier audience. So as tv goes, BB is holding its own. I'm also rooting for George and Cassandra because they are both the most mature and coolheaded, each in their own way. Though at times George acts a little... unfashionable? And he's got a major confidence problem; I can relate to that a lot. He's always there for everybody and he's just a nice guy. Cassandra is the "above the fray" sort of person and in recent years I've learned to really appreciate and respect people like that.

20/20 hindsight, I'd probably find myself acting like William did were I in such a situation. I missed the first couple weeks before they canned him, but reading the details in the website and stuff... damn. He was cold and calculating and was trying to make some convoluted point in a round about way. He refused to compromise or become a part of the group out of fear of losing his own convictions and 'selling his soul.' In the name of something greater, that in the end failed him, he was deemed unworthy of anyone's time and will soon be forgotten. To me, reading about William was uncomfortably way too familiar. Color may only be skin deep, but social dysfunction rots into the marrow. William *could* help being the way he is, but he can't see it. It's like he can't tell when he's going over the edge, and doesn't understand why it matters. He can see the big picture like a stagnant pool but doesn't realize by trying to better it he only makes it worse when he splashes into it. It's subtle from his perspective, when to others it's more apparent. I understand where he's coming from far too well. It's not pity. It's like watching someone repeatedly slip on banana peels, and wincing.

So even when the show is boring, it's still very interesting.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2000

C'mon, James, it's Darwinian enough as it is ...
posted by dhartung at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2000

While you're not going to catch me wasting even half an hour watching BB, I admit to catching enough of Survivor to follow the goings-on. (If you ask me, it's more interesting because of scheming Dicque, whereas BB apparently got rid of its most interesting characters right quick.) I don't turn up my nose at this reality-tv stuff like some people; sf authors knew this sort of thing would happen decades ago, when the technology just wasn't there. The reason is that people find other people interesting, simple as that. Especially in this day, when we've abandoned our neighborhoods and neighbors for antiseptic lives. We can't gossip about Mrs. McGurvey on the fourth floor and the handyman anymore.

There are at least three specific stories I remember centering on this theme. One was titled "Welcome to the Fishbowl", perhaps, from about 1950. It was a joke, really, on the prevalent fears among the ignorant that bringing a TV home let someone on the other end look into your living room; in this story, a company was secretly selling TVs with hidden cameras built in, and telling customers how to get to the secret channels where they could "voy" (to use modern net parlance) someone else, without most people realizing that they also had an audience. The protagonist stumbled upon the secret, and outed the company by the only means he thought possible: mailing the TV's plans to every newspaper in the country. It would expose the lie, but in the process, turn us all into voyeurs and exhibitionists. Hence the title.

I'm blanking on the 2nd story now that I'm well into my post.

The third story was in Omni about 1982, and concerned a small town that was wired up with cameras everywhere for a TV show. The townspeople had full knowledge and were being compensated. It became a monster hit (just like in Truman Show or EDtv, years later), with people following the ins and outs of the relationships on camera like any soap opera.

In a sense, I've been not a whit surprised by this phenomenon, having been prepared by fiction a generation ago.
posted by dhartung at 12:57 PM on August 21, 2000

According to a new article over at Salon, there's a lot going on that CBS is trying to prevent viewers from seeing; apparently, the housemates came close to mutiny.
posted by harmful at 9:29 PM on August 21, 2000

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