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Reality TV is now considered as a household term for programs that consist primarily of socially occurring events having been grounded on thematically oriented dispositions that are manifested in a particular group of people’s most common interactions. Through the use of depicted reality, television viewers are lead to believe that they too have a specific stake in the evolving process of identity-formation. Its actualization is set to take place in a highly contagious environment of television broadcast wherein the individual’s role is to assert the presence of the group that he is representing. The difficult part of this endeavor is the stating of purposes as to why national identity had to be imposed upon the entire world viewers’ sensibilities. What exactly is it for?

With the help of the Big Brother Phenomena and by incorporating it to Joseph Straubhaar’s article, (Re)Asserting National Television and National Identity Against the Global, Regional, and Local Levels of World Television, I am tasked to present a clear and thorough understanding of reality TV’s role as a component of the evolving trends in present day viewing.

To begin with, Big Brother‘s success as a television program can be traced to the process described by Robertson as “glocalization”. Form is set to be foreign while content has to be as local as possible. When I say form, I am pertaining to the setup of having a particular superior to be obedient to and as a member of the household; knowledge of responsibility and responsiveness to the house rules must be of utmost importance.

As viewers, our objective primarily is to find an outlet that can immediately gratify our varying interests. When we are presented with a piece of creative material, the first criterion that has to be satisfied is the attainment of easily recognizable characteristics such as cinematic expressionism, drama and sometimes even the so-called “x-factor” or charisma. It ought to be attractive enough because our impression will be the sole basis of whether the focus is sustained or left to exhaustion. Big Brother is able to respond to the viewers clamor for personal involvement. It is gained in such a way that does not require both forced and re-enforced acceptance of prescriptive measures in gaining power and control over the viewers. Rather, it is freely responded upon by anyone who wants to be affiliated to the convincing promise of equal representation through homogeneity of interconnected societies. When a contestant is inside the Big Brother house, he or she is stripped of the social status affixed to his or her name. This is vital in the progression of the show’s episode because it serves as a determinant of the socialist characteristic of the entire duration of stay inside the environment that is relatively alien to all the contestants. However, it also has the tendency of supporting a formation of new ways for differentiation amongst participants. I believe that this is reflective of the television program's nature of being an opportunity for upholding the essence of identity because through this two-fold possibility, the program's implicit characteristic is given analysis and direction.

When a foreign participant is immersed in an unconventional setting, no matter how idealistic the objectives are, it is highly probably to end up in conflict. Maybe out of a miscommunication triggered by the difference in racial backgrounds.
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty gets headlined in Sky News for being a victim of what she feels as a form of "bullying":

The show also rescinds from the idea of limiting culture to a specialized definition of having its relevance only to the specific social class and/or grouping that it is part of it. Oftentimes, the show accepts applicants with diverse backgrounds but once they gain entry to the show proper, they carry with them the objective of achieving sensibilities towards the other because it is through harmonization in the environment that they are part of, the general difficulties can be isolated and transformed into strengths for the succeeding weeks of competition.

Digging deeper, commenting on who actually gains more out of the production, image-developing and eventually the broadcasting of Big Brother as a proponent of reality TV, one can pinpoint easily that everyone (in their own respective right) had gained something out of this project. As the article had discussed it, producers regains the money that they invested in the show to the point of expanding their influences to sponsors, advertising agencies and even other producers that might consider a role in this growing investment. Consumers on the other hand, are given an avenue for their own personal culture to be acknowledgment in a media governed repository. On the other hand, relating the process of globalization in terms of political motivations, the mother company Endemol and the respective networks where the television show is, appears to be the benefactor of the globalization gained from the fusion of local and foreign components. Superiority through ratings could signal the monopoly behind the surfaced idea of national identity formation.

Big Brother also contains the interplay between hybridization and globalization.

As new patterns borne by technological and economic forces enter cultures, they interact with what is already there, producing new patterns best characterized at this moment as hybrid.
- Joseph Straubhaar

May it be Pinoy, Aussie, Brazilian or Spanish Big Brother, They all have the common denominator of having a western inspired form, fused with the local content in order to create the perfect example for the integration what being hybrid and global is simultaneously all about, The common error in judging what the dominance of western influence implies is the idea of being the sole determinant of output (regardless of being in the field of media, politics, or scientific and technological advancements). I have a strong belief that the west, specifically the US, is already “glocalized” even before it attempted to extend its reach all over the world. And so, the effects that we are experiencing now are just extensions of an already identifiable “hybrid source” causing a globalized initiative to adapt a response consistent to the truth behind the western society’s condition.

Pamela Anderson's presence in Australian Big Brother can attest to the hybridization/globalization complementary in Big Brother:

Lastly, the article pointed out the creation of “Imagined Communities" through television viewing habits and in the context of Big Brother this can be associated to the text voters that are defined as gatekeepers of the success or failure of the contestants. SMS messaging is both a technological and economical advancement for the television show to harness. The question though is who controls the sms voting result? Is it really the viewers or the show being viewed?


You can visit for more information on the alleged manipulation of text votes by Finnish Big Brother

Straubhaar, J. (2002). (Re)asserting national television and national identity agaisnt the global, regional, and local levels of world television. In J. Chan and B.T. McIntyre (Eds.). Search of boundaries: communication, nation-states, and cultural identities. Wesport, CN: Ablex Publishing

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