From Oba to Big Brother House

Just when some of us thought that the social media space would take a breather from the Obi Cubana (Oba) crass show of materialism to pay some attention to more edifying and noble matters, it is about to be bombarded and overtaken by the triviality called Big Brother Naija which while entertaining our flitting physical passions, does little to uplift the inner man/woman, the soul/spirit.

What is more, the show is kicking off at a time when under aged persons are going on long vacation and so have ample, idle time to spare watching television. You could argue that there is the parental control knob that parents can use to block unwanted channels. Televisions are becoming old fashioned. Smart phones (Android et al) are taking over, everything has been shifted to phones – live streams on YouTube, Face book, Instagram and other social media handles. Moreover, you can see whatever you want to watch at anytime, at your leisure because they are saved there for you; all you have to do is goggle or input the address. Under this circumstance, can you watch over your children 24/7? The alternative is to confiscate their phones. This would be considered a stone-age mentality in this 21st century when the world has gone digital.

In the beginnings, there used to be free for all smoking in the lavishly furnished and well stocked Big Brother House (by both male and female). Apparently following complaints by some persons that this was setting a bad precedent, especially as the World Health Organisation was preaching against the dangers of such bad habits, this was stopped. However, the free for all ‘booze’, alcoholic drinks continued to flow for the Housemates. There is nothing wrong with drinking per se in so far as you know your limit.

An overdose which differs from individuals according to one’s bodily chemistry would make the person begin to constitute himself/herself into a nuisance; which is why some advice that people distance themselves completely from alcohol since most people are not aware of their ‘limit’ in that regard. And many a housemate did misbehave embarrassingly after drenching themselves in alcohol on primetime television viewing. Later, drinking of alcohol by housemates in the day time was somewhat curbed and shifted to the night. Saturday night parties are a high point of the show that millions of its followers ardently look forward to. At these parties which is still a hallmark of the show, the housemates are literally given the license to do what they like – get drunk, misbehave, fornicate, name it.

Big Brother housemates used to indulge in what some would call unbridled lovemaking live on television. Later these very intimate scenes were cut off and packaged for later viewing at midnight when children are thought to be fast asleep. It was called ‘Big Brother unscripted’. Millions of its followers considered this to be the real entertainment. Love making among housemates still happens; you could say it cannot be helped in such a mixed, intimate zone where condoms are often distributed to the males. Some of the former housemates confessed openly to this at the last reunion show.

I guess this aspect has now been shifted to the social media like YouTube and dedicated blogs, away from home screens, ‘for the viewing pleasure’ of its teeming fans. Again, the argument that one can flip past anything one does not want to read online no longer holds because in these days of social media, news stories get thrust at you rather than you searching for them. And organizers of the Big Brother show with their bagful of cash have more or less taken over the media platforms in an aggressive public relations glitz, pushing forward ‘Big Brother shine ya eye’ stories to our faces; so that wherever you turn to online or offline, in print and broadcast media, all the social media platforms, you are confronted by it. One radio station here was even discussing the Big Brother Show, elated that a northerner, Yusef (Yusuf) from the University of Jos is taking part in this year’s edition while eagerly looking forward to a Nasarawa indigene making it to the House in the nearest future. You receive unsolicited alerts of trending and ‘breaking news’ every now and then on your smart phone.

Thus with DSTV/GOTV making ample use of its giant reach cum platforms to give it the widest possible advertisements, one cannot but catch snippets of the show even though I have unsubscribed from the Big Brother channel. Thus, it was reported that the male housemates welcomed their female counterparts with boxers on their heads. What message were they trying to pass across? Perhaps I am too conservative and old fashioned to decipher it.

A female housemate was reported to have moved around the house half naked on the very first day, which prompted someone to comment, “This one don begin sell market”. Whatever that means. The Big Brother show remains essentially what it is, namely a show that drags womanly dignity to the mud and has no respect for nobility of the human soul, not to talk of elevating the human being to something of higher value. The fact that millions of people follow it wholeheartedly is a testament of how low the majority of us stand in terms of cherished values. It mirrors our degenerating society. For the organisers of course, the ultimate goal is the millions of naira they would rake from the huge population of people voting via texts at rates that are 500 percent higher than usual SMS charges. By the way whatever happened to the plan by the federal ministry of information, culture and tourism to debut a wholly indigenous Big Brother show that would showcase our culture? Recall that Otunba Olusegun Runsewe of the Culture and Tourism Commission had said that the Big Brother telecast is a disservice to our cultural values with the minister saying that it would be countered with another version.

Rather than the inanities that housemates discuss, they could be made to discuss solutions to the schisms tearing Nigerians apart. The organizers should use such a show with a huge following on their platforms to teach their audience the need to show the spirit of tolerance to one another irrespective of religious and ethnic divides; how to forge cooperation, helping love towards one another. And the housemates especially the winner could use their popularity and celebrity status after the show to set up foundations that coup help the youths. Laycon the last winner for example, could set up a Sickle cell foundation to help youths afflicted by this disease as I learnt that he himself is a sickler. They should take a cue from the Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba who used his fame to preach peace and unity and indeed brought about unity in the crisis- torn country.

Ikeano, a journalist, writes via [email protected] 08033077519