Big Brother
August 22, 2000 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Big Brother may be even more Orwellian than I thought. It may not be so much about constant surveillance, as about manipulating public perception of events.
posted by harmful (9 comments total)
Well this is what I call manipulation!
posted by joedrescher at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2000


And thanks for linking the print version, Bren. :-)
posted by baylink at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2000

This is no surprise though. I'm certain that Survivor and The Real World manipulate the story lines even more, considering they have a lot longer to edit the video. I think it's unfortunate how the BB teevee show turned out. It would be more interesting to make the character of "Big Brother" into a cruel, manipulative, arbitrary tyrant. Then the show might be interesting because the houseguests would have a common enemy, instead of the producers trying to find conflict between boring people who are somehow able to remain civil to each other. Instead BB is too nice most of the time, and the residents are getting soft. Oh well.
posted by daveadams at 10:30 AM on August 22, 2000

There is a big difference between the editing on Big Brother and the editing on Survivor. While the editing on Survivor may color our perceptions of the people on the show, the editing on Big Brother, by coloring those perceptions, actually affects the outcome, since it is the show's viewers who vote on the ouster of housemates. The Big Brother editors, then, are already dictating who wins the game. Blech.
posted by mikewas at 11:28 AM on August 22, 2000

The Big Brother editors, then, are already dictating who wins the game. Blech.

That's a good point. Everyone should just watch the live feeds and read for the real story. :)
posted by daveadams at 11:56 AM on August 22, 2000

if you check out, matt from the new orleans real world has some interesting comments on how the show is edited.
posted by centrs at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2000

So great, Big Brother is manipulating the outcome of a contest they came up with in the first place in order to maximize drama & tension.

Pardon me for asking a couple of dumb questions here, but:

1. Why does this surprise anyone?

2. So?
posted by chicobangs at 12:45 PM on August 22, 2000

Nobody was "surprised". The article was actually taking a different tack: that in selecting their "stories", the BB producers had missed some of the most interesting ones, in particular the opportunity for some fascinating self-referential stuff. A smart producer could do that as "fun" wink-wink games with the audience; CBS just sweeps everything embarrassing under the rug (except, of course, the entire show). For counterpoint, the Salon article took knowing jabs at Salon's own coverage of the show.

More to the point, it was viewed as a case study in applying dramatic narratives to unrelated clips of film, which is instructive in re matters such as what passes for journalism on television.

Mike, I'm not sure there's that much difference between BB and S. On S, for example, I remember them having Colleen blurt out "it's just about sex" in the middle of a narrated sequence suggesting she was hot and heavy with the guy (Sean?). To my eyes, I didn't think there was any evidence that her quote was said in the context of what she and he were doing hanging out together, or even necessarily about him in any way. I'm sure there are other examples; BB just has the difference of a live webfeed to study and contrast with the edited broadcast.

I think the deeper difference is that whatever the BB producers did to select people, it wasn't as successful as what the S folks did; they have more minutes per week to fill, and in something closer to real time; and the biggest problem: people sitting around in a house they can't leave is just a helluva lot less inherently interesting than people literally starving their fat butts away on a deserted island. It's more like freshman year college than Lord of the Flies. In the latter, you die: in the former, you're just frozen out whenever you come to the TV lounge ...
posted by dhartung at 9:31 PM on August 22, 2000

I love Dave's idea for a more "adversarial" Big Brother which the housemates might have to outsmart through cooperation, in order to complete tasks. Even in the existing situation, a couple of the inmates felt the need to establish private communication using a playing-card code (which was quickly nixed by the All-Seeing Eye of CBS).
posted by harmful at 8:16 AM on August 23, 2000

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