Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I wrote the following in a comment on a post over at Dogpossum's. She says her thoughts on the Big Brother 'incident' are preliminary, but I think they're some of the most sophisticated thinking on the surrounding issues that I've read. I also rather liked Mark's post over at Larvatus Prodeo .

I posted Helen Noonan's Press Release from July 2nd on the 'incident' over at Sarsaparilla because I couldn't gather my thoughts about the issue in any coherent way, but I wanted to start a discussion, one that didn't involve condemning people for their responses in all the confusion.

I started composing my own blog post which I titled 'Mixed Up Confusion', but I've decided not to go ahead with it on my blog. I hope you don't mind if I have a rant here?

I think Camilla did what young women who find themselves in these frightening situations do every day. She laughed it off, because that's the only way to retain a sense of self and dignity when you've been put in such a humiliating position.

John and Ashley may see it as a joke now (although they were kicked out of the house, so they can't be laughing too hard), when they're under the carefully managed protection of Big Brother and Gretel's scripted interview questions, but that may well change as they get out into the world and feel the force of a somewhat less mediated response to their behaviour. I look at the interview last night as a face saving exercise for all involved. There's an interesting comment over at Sarsaparilla by Jessica who has friends in common with one of the removed housemates.

I've read some things out there in the blogosphere that condemn Krystal for 'trying to negotiate' with Big Brother for the return of John and Ashley. My take on that is that Krystal and everyone else in the house have known John and Ashley as friends, good blokes. Their first response was to the loss of their friends. At that point they didn't know anything of the alleged assault. To my mind the logical conclusion of condemning Krystal, using the most pejorative language and being completely judgemental about her plastic surgery etc, is to dehumanise her in the way that many seem up in arms about when responding to comments about how Camilla 'deserved it'. I think the silences of David and Jamie are telling. What do you do when you discover one of your friends has allegedly assaulted another? David has said in the past that he respected John. Yet we know from his very strong moral stance on a range of other things that he would be completely appalled at John and Ash's behaviour.

The question of BB encouraging this sexually charged behaviour is an interesting one. Some have commented on the task the producers gave Camilla earlier that day, to go around and kiss every housemate. At the same time Ash was charged with having to avoid being kissed. Is there any relationship between the events? Perhaps the challenges weren't thought through enough? Maybe BB didn't give enough credit to the sexual tensions in the house? I certainly don't think the producers would have anticipated the actions, especially in view of their preparation before entering the house (sexual harrassment awareness etc).

The fact that other media outlets--I saw some footage on Channel 7--are showing the footage is insupportable. All of those arguments about the voyeurism and exhibitionism of BB are equally applicable to The Age, Channel 7 etc etc. There is no moral highground. In fact what the other outlets are doing is far worse, because they're couching it as 'news' which allows them to distance themselves from the apparent paucity of taste inherent in a reality programme such as Big Brother. There are questions of genre, judgement and value that need to be explored in the calls by politicians to remove the programme.

I think that woman you refer to is a consultant to the show on these issues, so in that sense she is a particularly appropriate person to comment in this case. Although perhaps not for her feminist credentials.

There's so much more to say. But I'm not being very coherent myself (although you certainly are). To some extent I feel the only way I could be properly coherent would to be work out a reasoned argument. And I can't do that quickly enough for my liking.

Posted by: Galaxy at July 4, 2006 10:04 AM


Click here for the latest Media Release from Helen Coonan.

In addition to making a move to create legislation that will regulate online content, the minister is having the Television Code of Practice reviewed as well. Apparently the public reaction to the presence of Big Brother on our screens has led her to conclude that programme classifications are out of step with community standards. Will BB go MAV?


mark bahnisch said...



lucy tartan said...

Will Big Brother go the the Mathematical Association of Victoria conference? He probably ought to. Especially if Helen Coonan thinks reviewing the Television Code of Practice might have an effect on what type of material gets streamed on the Internet.

Kirsty said...

I think she's viewing them as two separate issues, but still, this is the thinking of someone who doesn't use, nevermind like, either television or the internet.

I truly think that one of the reasons that the ABC gets such a bad rap from conservative politicians is that they only watch the news. They don't like the kind of questions that Kerry O'Brien asks on the 7.30 Report, so the funding for every other programme type, which form the bulk of the programming, is called into question.

lucy tartan said...

Phillip Adams made a similar observation in the Aus, commenting on the Windschuttle appointment - he said that typical ABC programming is The New Inventors, Gardening Australia etc - not political / polemical stuff - in fact I think he used the word 'mindless', which is taking things a wee bit far.

Kirsty said...

Oh dear, I'm getting seriously worried about myself and my television watching. Everywhere I turn I'm told my preferences are mindless trash. I love the New Inventors and I'm not too upset if I happen across the Gardening Australia man saying 'It's your bloomin' lot. At least until next week...'. Do you know how excited I got when Collectors profiled a skate board collector.
That man and his collection were seriously cool.

Still I take Adams's point: what exactly is the government against on the ABC? More likely it's an ideological objection to the concept of public broadcasting itself. Do they really just want to sell it off like Telstra? Stating the agenda that openly probably wouldn't go down too well though in view of our cultural allegiances to the British public service broadcast model.

Gianna said...

jinx; i just commented over at the cast iron balcony on the subject of whether BB's producers might've actually caused the incident due to the 'dares' they ran just prior. if they play with people's subconscious like that they may get unexpected results.
i've got to stop thinking about this issue though, it's doing my head in a bit.

Kirsty said...

Yes, I empathise with the feeling of it doing your head in.

Unknown said...