By FIONA RAE
I seem to have fallen into a parallel universe where, even though the winner has been announced, there will be Big Brother specials forever.
Last week it was an eviction special, this week a behind the scenes.
Boy, you’ve got to admire the Aussies’ ability to milk something for all it’s worth.
Perhaps they’re working on the same premise as Blues Clues where, according to the TV2 voiceover dude, the more you watch, the more you learn, although it is hard to see how much more there can be to know.
But, it’s been huge, according to Mark Ferguson last week, and they became part of our lives. They almost took over our lives, according to Australian presenter Gretel Killeen. By the time Ferguson was claiming we watched and laughed and loved, I was beginning to wonder just how many fatuous statements one programme could possibly make.
There was one statement that half made sense: that Big Brother is now part of our popular culture. Well it’s actually part of Australia’s popular culture, no matter how much the programme-makers tried to turn the thing into some kind of transtasman bonding exercise.
One thing that Big Brother Evicted did reveal was a fully formed, extensive and hungry media system that we, with our small population base, can only dream about.
The evictees, as they were called, were immediately set on a publicity campaign trail that would have rivalled the British Popstars and Jamie Oliver programmes put together.
They were shown doing multiple radio interviews, meeting and greeting at theme parks, doing photo shoot after photo shoot and participating in any number of demeaning stunts on a variety show called Rove Live Rove, Australia’s version of Letterman as far as I could tell.
It looked like a crude load of nonsense, but at least it was their crude load of nonsense and, given that our last attempt at a variety show was McCormick Rips, we’ve got a long way to go to even get near it. They even still have Beauty and the Beast, apparently a raunchier version, suitably updated for the times.
But it was like watching a kind of fully evolved, self-perpetuating media: they create the show, then they interview each other about it. They’ve cut out the middle man, like Ben Elton’s famous line about fast food, you might as well throw it directly down the toilet. "We want to make you a star, Johnnie," wheedled one newspaper hack.
Big Brother has meant so much to its participants, so they keep telling us, which is sad because it seems almost perfect in its utter meaninglessness.
Which pretty much sums up another television product for the young people: Felicity, a show so completely meaningless I’m beginning to think it is some sort of Zen artform. Apparently, there was a publicity furore when she had her hair cut. Yes, really.
Meanwhile, a much larger bunch of young people in Genoa were also seen almost nightly standing up for something they think has real meaning.
As befits the soundbite age, television news coverage was largely superficial and I’m yet to see a report that explains this global protest movement. For that, you have to turn to other sources.
That’s 21st-century television for you. Too much information about things we really don’t need to know about and not enough about what’s important.By Fiona Rae