“Big brother is watching you". These ominous Orwellian words have long become a reality. More precisely, on Reality TV.
When George Orwell wrote - in 1949 - a book called "1984", in which he had created the 'Big Brother', he probably never imagined this - that the State’s surveillance, he envisioned, will in fact spill beyond his imaginative futuristic thinking, into something of an engaging entertainment.
When he predicted that you as an individual can never escape the watchful eyes of the State, no matter where you are and what you do, he probably did not think of Live TV shows! That the candid cameras will zealously zoom right into people’s submissive souls. Even to bare their heartbeats and their mind-games for eager eyes.
Live cameras, real people, real personalities, and real problems are what 'Reality TV' boasts of. But, truly, are they? Are they always real?
When a Tough Trump fires an incompetent officemate on ‘Apprentice’; when a bad Goody swears at a glamorous Indian housemate, Shilpa, on ‘Big Brother’; when a tough nut is unceremoniously thrown out, and can’t be on ‘Survivor’, any more; when a lovey-dovey couple is alternately evicted out of ‘Big Boss,’ (apparently for their own good), Shouldn’t we ask ourselves, ‘Is it really real’?
Undoubtedly, it is the voyeurs in all of us who continuously contribute to the rise of Reality TV. It’s our deep desire to see the celebrities, and sometimes non-celebrities, in unrehearsed behaviour - with no second takes - that provides fodder to the producers. We become armchair analysts of some seemingly artistic antics. And pseudo researchers on behavioural psychology.
Every time we discuss these shows at office water-coolers, or home get-togethers, we – unknowingly - make the Television Rating Points of these shows to soar higher. Every time we convert a non-viewer to go home and switch on the show, we – unknowingly – raise the stakes of those on TV, even higher.
Who doesn’t know that this is all for a few dollars more - to the producer, to the artists, to the advertisers, and to the winners? Of course there is also – on the side - lots and lots of eye-candy for all of us - the greedy viewers with hungry eyes.
The beeped out words that shouldn’t be heard on TV, the blurred out parts that shouldn't be seen on TV, tell us all that we can't really get that close to reality. The construed situations, dictated by Big Brothers and Big Bosses, the sudden change of rules in the middle of the game, tell us that all is not fair. The pretentious friendships and emotional outbursts show us that personalities are in fact altered by the effect of confinement in closed spaces. So, is it real?
If it is actually a game show, is it real or is it played? And whether it is played or not, is it doing us any good? Are we better off with or without it?
The answers and perceptions may vary a lot. But Reality TV is certainly becoming the new age’s new addiction!
And all of us seem to be saying a different phrase - "Big brother, WE are watching you"!!!