Commentary Big Brother

Is this the end of Big Brother?

Silence around another season of “Big Brother” is louder than the outrage caused nearly 20 years ago when it launched. Jan Maciejewski describes the fate of the once groundbreaking TV reality show and argues that the rise of social media and 24-hour news channels has made it redundant.

It’s all been and gone. The excitement laced with distaste, curiosity mixed with concern about a society that was smitten by a vulgar and mediocre spectacle. This cocktail of fascination and outrage that every TV producer dreams of only really took off once, 18 years ago when the first edition of “Big Brother” aired. Successive editions and their reality show clones that invaded Polish TV screens were just an attempt to re-create those emotions. When the shock loses its flavor, nothing can replace it.

This is why, when the show returned a few months ago, no one noticed. Yet another edition is to begin in September. Viewing figures are predicted to be high based on the numbers willing to take part in the castings (26,000). But it may not work like that. Exhibitionism is no longer something rare.

At the beginning of this century appearing in front of cameras still required some courage or willingness to cross the boundaries of good taste. But the social media revolution has moved the boundaries on. That is why the silence that surrounds “Big Brother” is now louder than the outrage of some 20 years ago.

All those years ago it was felt by some commentators that people yearned to be able to make decisions by their text messages on who is in or out in the public sphere. A certain voyeurism was in evidence with demand to see more of the political process.

It was the time when commercial network TVN created the first 24-hour news channel. Politics was thrown to the cameras, closed in a “Big Brother” house of its own. As time passed it began to adjust to the demands of the host, so “Big Brother” stopped being needed by anyone.

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