by Keren Suchecki
I get really fed up with the sneering attitude of ‘serious’ media commentators over Big Brother every year. Low brow it may be, harbinger of the apocalypse it is not.
You’ve got to admire this programme’s honesty – how often are we told that selection processes (from general elections to job interviews) are not popularity contests? Well this one is exactly that and apparently what’s popular is: working class; gay; female; religious; transsexual; working class; disabled; and black. (Or Craig, Brian, Kate, Cameron, Nadia, Anthony, Pete and Brian as they prefer to be known.)
Big Brother’s largely youth-based electorate produces these results without equalities training or a cohesion project to tell them how to tick boxes and it seems somewhat hollow that they’re frequently derided by the liberal-left as a materialistic, celebrity-obsessed monoculture. (Although admittedly there is a bit of an over-representation of Brians in that list.)
What’s most positive is that winners aren’t chosen because they represent a group – it’s qualities not equalities that attract votes. Qualities such as: honesty; fair play; empathy; a sense of fun; straightforwardness; and, most significant of all, integrity. It’s doesn’t take a genius to work out why this same electorate is disengaged from politics, does it?
Nadia, who doesn’t fit the profile as easily as the others, won the viewers hearts by using the diary room to explain her struggle to be accepted as a woman and to gain trust while she tested her new identity out on her housemates. If you buy into the moral panic that surrounds community cohesion debates you’d think an immigrant transsexual winner would be impossibility in this country.
I love Big Brother because the good guy always wins (even when he’s a gal). And I think that the way it rewards good old-fashioned values proves that most people don’t discriminate on the basis of race, nationality, class, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Reassuring that, isn’t it?
This article first appeared in ‘Regeneration and Renewal’ magazine. Keren Suchecki is a regeneration worker in South Bristol.
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