coerced in a contest, by Clare Masters - 8th July
(Credit: The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail)
is called reality television.
group of people crammed into a house, cut off
from the outside world, surrounded by cameras
and told to interact.
Most are young, attractive and, in some cases
naive, seemingly drawn towards the lure of fame
-- or at least their 15 minutes of it.
But at what cost? Since it's inception in the
Netherlands in September 1999, Big Brother has
spread to almost 70 countries -- leaving a string
of scandals in its wake.
In the US, a male contestant pulled a knife on
a female housemate, and was immediately evicted;
* In the UK, police were called in to stop a brawl
that broke out in the house, with housemates forcibly
* In the UK, a man threatened to commit suicide
if he was not allowed out of the house;
* In Denmark, a woman became pregnant on the show;
* In Portugal, a couple was thrown out for having
* In Thailand, the government considered shutting
down series one when two contestants became close;
holding hands, hugging and cuddling on the sofa;
* In Australia, two men were accused of sexual
assault and thrown out of the house.
Internationally, at least five people believe
their lives have been ruined by BB, with three
attempting suicide as a result.
As a psychologist on the first Australian series,
Dr Bob Montgomery has first-hand knowledge of
the way the BB beast springs into action.
Australian Psychological Society communications director
says he was privy to many round-table discussions
in the show's initial season and often helped think
of ways to spice things up.
soon as ratings flag they'll have a little brainstorming
meeting -- I used to sit in on some -- and try to
think of what they can do next to try to grab people's
interest,'' Montgomery says. ``They're no different
to any other program.''
says the universal truth of television is that harmony
simply does not rate. Viewers don't want to see people
getting along. They want controversy and conflict
-- ingredients BB is only too happy to provide.
week Australia's BB captured the world's attention
when Ash and John were evicted from the house after
``turkey-slapping'' a female housemate in an event
that polarised the nation.
labelled the move a media stunt to prop up the show's
ratings. If so, it worked -- more than 1.5 million
viewers tuned in Sunday night to hear details of the
analyst Greg Tingle from
the Media Man says there is no doubt the show created
the tinderbox conditions -- frustrated sexuality and
enforced continued confinement, combined with an alcoholic
catalyst -- which eventually exploded between the
trio in the early hours of Saturday morning.
[the Big Brother producers] don't say go and commit
a sexual assault, but they set the scene as sexual
activity is encouraged and they had the [now-defunct]
Big Brother Adults Only show,'' Tingle explains.
believes the whole incident was a media ratings stunt
or a hoax gone wrong and with Big Brother pulling
the strings, the show then had to accept some responsibility
for its housemates' actions: ``They might have tried
to spike the ratings, but it's come back to bite them
on the arse.''