Wednesday, 26th January 2022
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No, Big Brother is not immoral or corrosive, it’s showing us a slice of life

Another day, another pseudo, moral panic over who or what is corrupting the moral fabric of the nation. Instead of the usual culprits like social media, tattoos and piercings, it’s the turn of Big Brother Nigeria, now in its 5th week.

Big Brother Naija

Another day, another pseudo, moral panic over who or what is corrupting the moral fabric of the nation. Instead of the usual culprits like social media, tattoos and piercings, it’s the turn of Big Brother Nigeria, now in its 5th week.

Criticism of the show, which returned in January after a ten-year hiatus, has been brewing from the outset. Initially there was controversy over the show being filmed in South Africa, public amusement and confusion led to the Federal government ordering an investigation. Now, criticism is focused on the shows content.

This week especially, which has seen various housemates get hot and heavy under or on top of the sheets has stoked the ire of the country’s morality police, who have denounced the show as “immoral” and “un-Nigerian.”

Some Nigerians have expressed their anger on social media, a Port Harcourt based preacher went a step further and placed a curse on the show’s sponsors and organizers and now there’s a petition, asking the National Broadcasting Commission to stop airing the show.

The petition, which has garnered over 2,000 signatures, argues that the show is not only “a celebration of obscenity, eroticism and idleness” but is also a “mockery of Nigerian culture and tradition” which threatens to damage and pollute Nigeria’s “moral ecology.”

Sorry, but no.
Big Brother was created in the Netherlands in 1999 and has been syndicated all over the world, to huge success. The premise is simple: a number of strangers are put in a house under 24-hour surveillance and are totally cut off from the outside world. Each week, housemates vote for the person they wish to see leave the Big Brother house, the people with the most nominations are then put up for eviction and the public votes. The housemate with the most votes is evicted. This continues for several weeks until a winner is chosen and awarded prize money.

In between evictions, housemates are given different tasks by the all-seeing, all hearing ‘Big Brother,’ if tasks are passed, housemates are rewarded, if tasks are failed, they’re punished. Big Brother sets all the tasks and all the rules. Sometimes, housemates argue, sometimes they have fun, sometimes they kiss each other.

Putting a group of strangers together from different walks of life is always going to cause controversy if casting producers do their jobs well. Big Brother is first, a reality show which aims to entertain the audience, it is not a morality school or something for the kids to watch after they’ve done their homework.

Observation is the point of Big Brother, not necessarily celebration. Viewers observe how different people react to different situations in a confined environment miles away from their comfort zones.

The show doesn’t promise that you’re going to like or love every character you meet, or that you’re going to like everything you see. Just like in real life reality TV, sometimes you see things you don’t want to see, sometimes it show’s things about your society you don’t like. Some of what you see is touching and kind, some of it cruel and offensive, but all of it is human and all of it real (to an extent anyway).

Some Nigerians (including those inside) the Big Brother house kiss and have sex (otherwise where did 170 million people come from?). Some cheat on their spouses, laugh and cry together, other fight and makeup. Big Brother isn’t ‘corroding’ anything. The environment might be artificial but it isn’t showing anything that people aren’t doing on ‘the outside’ or what isn’t already a part of everyday human life.

People kissing and hooking up on TV may be offensive to some, but ‘morally corrosive’? I don’t think so. How is a TV show more damaging than the countless stories we read every day about money looted from state coffers with impunity and without punishment? Yet there are fewer petitions about this.

In the midst of all the drama going on inside the Big Brother Naija House, social media is abuzz with commentary on the pros and cons of the show, people are talking about it all the time and although viewing figures are not yet available it can be assumed that viewership is high. It can be assumed that unless the petition is successful and the NBC gets involved that the series will be renewed for another season which will likely send detractors into a tailspin. Luckily for the naysayers, there’s a fool proof solution to quell their anger and save them from being poisoned by ‘immorality’: TURN OFF YOUR TV.

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