Metropole Magazine

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24 May Written by  Ladi Opaluwa

Big Brother Mania

On weekends, it is hard to resist the lure of television, this weekend in especially, with the UEFA Champions League finals on Saturday and the launch of Season 8 of Big Brother Africa on Sunday. Only with Big Brother, it doesn’t end in two hours, or two days. Over the next three months, many will become couch potatoes on account of the show. And after the show ends, the saga continues in keeping up with the lives of participants, so it never really ends.

In trying to gauge the appropriateness of my anticipation of the coming show, lest viewers’ programme tastes have changed and I be left behind, I asked two friends if at all they follow Big Brother and they answered ‘no’ and ‘not really’ respectively. And me? Not really too. This could mean anything from watching daily highlights to watching full episodes for a couple of hours every other day. Of course the ‘no’ means ‘yes’, because despite our claims, a couple of minutes after, we were analysing the character of each house-mate. We knew not just the story, but the plot of last year’s show: the consequences of Zainab’s voyeurism, of Goldie’s frequent meltdowns, of Talia’s love triangle. Except by divine perception, how else did we know these details?

Like 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians', BBA is a show we love to watch and deny because it is reality TV, trash TV, junk. The thrill is comparable to eavesdropping on a neighbour: totally inappropriate, nonetheless irresistible. There is something about other people’s lives and stories that is infinitely interesting, compelling us to read, listen, or gawk, even when it is obviously staged.

I came late to BBA, six and a half years after it was launched. The temptation was everywhere. When a season of Big Brother gets going, it is impossible to ignore completely. Like a popular song, you hear it whether or not you listening. It is so popular that you begin to wonder if you are not missing out on a major cultural phenomenon of the age. The debates about previous day’s episodes carry over to classrooms and offices, especially if in close association with ladies, seeing how much we love to chatter, and what makes for better conversation than the amorous life of some crazy African youths. One begins to rationalise: watching Big Brother does not make one more or less smart. Maybe it does, who cares?

By the time I succumbed to the temptation in the middle of last year’s show, I had heard so much that I was already acquainted with the names and character of the house-mates. You watch one episode just to see what these people look like, and then you want to know what happens next, and so on. Though I am not yet an addict― only a matter of time― the transition from watching with the television muted while trying to read a novel, to watching with full attention, to now anxiously awaiting the start of another season has been rapid.

Having passed myself off as one who couldn’t find any programme worth watching on African Magic or TLC, to be seen watching BBA was like being caught cheating. I was supposed to be faithful to CNN. What was I doing with this trash? How hath the haughty fallen. The classic phrase ‘I can explain’ comes to mind, but like in its original context, there was no explaining this new affair. I was simply bored with the news channels, which themselves have some undesirable elements; the repetition of a news item in the absence of fresh disaster is a total waste of time.

It is not a good time to renew subscription to cable television if looking to avoid temptation. Get deliberately stuck with NTA, otherwise, you will find yourself, an adult, watching 'iCarly'. With DSTV, Everything Else Can Wait. This is a most sincere slogan, no pretences about their objective.