Thursday, July 06, 2006

Big Brother

History repeats: tragedy to farce. The tragedy of the totalitarian police state (as satirized by George Orwell) is echoed in the farce of reality television (as invented by John de Mol and exploited by his company Endemol).

Big Brother is watching you. But who exactly is Big Brother? Perhaps the whole TV audience becomes the oppressor.

Is it not decadent (if not positively offensive) to turn one of the most important political issues of the 20th century into one of the most popular entertainments of the 21st century? I imagine that some people who have experienced the terrors of the police state may find it hard to enjoy a trivialized parody of it.

At one level, the purpose of reality TV is merely to entertain the audience and make money for the TV companies and advertisers. But what is the social and political effect? Do viewers learn something useful about group relations? Do viewers learn something useful about authority, and the range of possible responses to authority?

And what about the relationship between the tragedy and the farce? Even though the farce doesn't openly educate people about the tragedy, it might somehow make a future return of the tragedy less likely. One has to be pretty optimistic to believe this - but I can be optimistic sometimes. tags: POSIWID
Technorati tags: