Media Analyisis – Big Brother Essay
Media Analyisis – Big Brother
The first feature I observed about Big Brother is how it follows the generic conventions of reality TV. This is particularly true of the narrative; Big Brother shares the same main enigma code of who will win? as various other reality TV programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, Fame Academy, and Celebrity Love Island. The fact that Big Brother places such emphasis on competition with “tasks” and challenges constantly presented to the contestants, means that the narrative is based on conflict. The process of nominations is a prime example of this.
This again follows the generic conventions of reality TV and is an important factor considering that this genre is based on causality. In a show based on character interaction and emotion it is important to have an element of conflict as it produces greater reactions and drama. However, whilst Big Brother follows the conventions of reality TV, the genre of reality TV is actually very unconventional. Reality TV is actually a hybrid of soap/game show/ documentary which have been merged to create an entirely new genre; this makes it a bricologe.
Bricologe is a new media concept and is a good example of how genre must keep changing to avoid repetition to the point of boredom (Tessa Perkins). The mode of address is also typical of other reality shows. Big Brother’s presenters talk directly to the audience, giving the show a more personal and inclusive feel; this ensures the audience can relate to the show more easily. Big Brother also employs a voice over which is needed due to practicity issues. The voice used may be formal but the fact that a variety of accents are used (in particular Geordie) means the audience don’t feel alienated.
I believe that the formality of the voice over is used to give the show more credibility as opposed to a more sensationalist feel. Big Brother also features strong binary oppositions in the form of characters; this is a decision again based on the importance of causality. The housemates were all chosen due to their strong personalities; the producers are aware that this will produce a greater interest and reaction from the public whilst also ensuring that there is likely to be a clash of personalities in the house, resulting in more drama.
Examples of character binary oppositions are Grace and Niki. They are bother from very different backgrounds and have different values and morals. Grace comes from a privileged background, going to an all girls’ school and living in a flat in London that her parents pay for. However she is independent and appears decisive and strong-willed. Grace appeared to look down her nose on what she considers to be “slutty” women with no class, especially those involved in the glamour industry.
Niki on the other hand, works as a glamour model, promotions girl, and dancer, which immediately clashes with Grace’s morals. Character wise, she is the opposite of Grace; she is very fussy, indecisive, and emotional. Her goal in life is to marry a footballer and not have to work. It is not just Niki and Grace who are binary oppositions; based on their individual tapes every single housemate is in theory an opposition of each other. As I mentioned earlier, this was purposely done in order to cause conflict in the house.
The main enigma code is also based on causing conflict, and that is; who will win? The competitive ideology of the programme ensures there will be friction between the housemates. This is reflective of the hegemonic ideology of today’s “rat race”. The other less major enigma codes, such as romances and the “tasks” ensure that the audience’s interest is held at all times. The bright, synthetic lighting of the Big Brother house creates a claustrophobic environment, this again encourages conflict.
An important point to consider when analysing Big Brother is the fact that its makes use of selective editing; it is an example of mediation as it uses editing to influence the viewer’s opinions of the housemates. E. g. by continuously showing clips of Grace bitching exaggerates her nastiness and portrayed her as a villain. Big Brother uses this to get a greater reaction from the public with the aim of keeping in the housemates that provide the most entertainment.
Big Brother also retains the power to influence the viewer’s opinion of the housemates through shot composition and editing; this can completely change or form the representation of a housemate. This is extremely important as the housemates were all chosen to play different parts and portray different stereotypes therefore Big Brother aims to represent them as their allotted characters. An example of this is Niki’s portrayal as a spoilt yet loveable drama queen; the programme is edited in a way that shows her tantrums in a humorous light.
This was particularly true in the run up to her and Grace’s eviction, when it was quite obvious Big Brother wanted Niki to remain in the house. Glyn is another example of stereotypical representation, being represented as your typical oversexed, slightly naive, awed country boy. Big Brother again had a part to play in this representation by focusing on his naive comments and fantasising. On a broader scale, Big Brother is not only representing its housemates but is also a reflection of society.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 11 July 2017
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