Why do we really watch Big Brother?
Big Brother. We all have watched it, some of us for many seasons. We've experienced the fights, laughed at the oddities, and even felt anger at the victors. This season, the Summer of Secrets, is the most intense of all these feelings. We, as fans, cheered on Howie as he rudely tore into April. We laughed when James talked in the Diary Room about winning. Some of us even cried when Janelle was evicted by Ivette. We all experienced these feelings at one time or another. The rampant disappointment, hurtful sorrow, or jubilant glee. We know what caused the feelings, but what caused us to have the feelings?
All of us have seen a movie once in our lives. We know that Wesley Snipes isn't a vampire, or that Sarah Michelle Gellar isn't really an uptown sociopathic brat. Yet, we watch Big Brother and we idealize Kaysar as the hero, Janelle as the anti-hero, and Maggie as the villain. This is known as aesthetic difference, the ability to differentiate the person from the part. We watch Christopher Walken play a headless horsemen and we know he is playing the part.
However, Big Brother lacks this simple difference. Big Brother is a show about people, personalities, and relationships. It is a scaled representation of civilization and society. How we make friends, why we make friends, and how we fight against those we perceive as enemies. Big Brother 6 personifies this sociological ideal to a 'T'.
We watch Kaysar and we see he's a kind, gentle fellow with sensibilities and intelligence. We invest ourselves in him, his friendships, and his personality. We are only driven further with a complete immersion in his actions. We watch him on the feeds, we research where he comes from, we read about him on boards, and we see him on the show. Just like any other Houseguest, we watch him and develop a personal investment in him or any other number of people there.
Yet, why do we show this investment in Big Brother, but do not show it in, say, Breaking Bonaduce or My Fair Brady? Simple. Big Brother unfolds before our very eyes. We cannot watch Danny as he struggles, live, with his demons. We can only watch after the fact. The same for most reality shows such as Survivor, Amazing Race, The Mole, and so many others. We, as viewers, become engrossed in lives as they unfold before us. Most importantly, they do so live on feeds and in recaps.
As Big Brother 6 winds down, many viewers are left with many strong, real emotions. Some of anger, some of joy, some of apathy, and some of sadness. Many question what they can do to come to term with these emotions, if they are wrong, or how to know when is too much.
For others, Big Brother is simply a show of people, no more or no less. They have the pleasure of employing and realizing the aesthetic difference. They come here and tell us it's a show, we should get over it, hard feelings should not be harbored.
Which brings us to the "how". How do you control these feelings? How do you end Big Brother without anyone finally calling your favorite to the mat, so to speak? Simple: you scream, you kick, you yell, you hate, and you come to terms. You condemn the person all you want and then...you truly do "get over it". Not because someone tells you to, but because you finally feel you have aired your feelings enough.
And when Big Brother 7 comes? You will become invested again. We all will, and we will love a houseguest, we will all dislike a houseguest, we will become completely enamoured with the feeds, we'll read the dish, we'll talk the smack, and we'll get angry or be elated. This is the nature of Big Brother at the very core.
Big Brother is, indeed, just a television show. With characters, people, a general outline of where to go, a climax, and a resolution. However, Big Brother is a television show like few others because it plays out before us. Is it just a television show? Absolutely. It is also a living show, growing and displaying personalities before us in real life.
Is it wrong to become so engrossed in these people that we cry for them? No more wrong than when we cry at a movie, yell at a friend, or insult each other. That is the nature of Big Brother. To watch, to listen, to respond, to enjoy, to read...and to be entertained.
Don't be confused, entertainment isn't just a movie about aliens taking over the world set in 1900 BC. Entertainment can also be crying, screaming, kicking, cheering, hating, and loving.
Would you want Big Brother any other way?