Popular British writer, Eric Blair more popularly known with his Pen Name, George Orwell, the author of the evergreen ‘Animal Farm’ wrote a seminal novel ‘1984’ which captured the horrors of living in the then Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR). He talked about the presence of a Big Brother who seemed to be present and dominant in the lives of the citizens.
That eye opening book became the precursor of the Big Brother show which started out as an African affair where the citizens of some African nations competed for the top prize in the early 2000’s.
The Big Brother Naija reality show which started in 2006 as an offshoot of a John de Mol Jr created Big Brother reality show is a darling of many entertainment fans. It is arguably the most followed and popular show in the world’s most populous black nation. Its first winner was Katung Aduwak who has gone on to become a successful film maker. The current anchor, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu who also anchored the last year’s edition was a contestant in the first edition which was his ticket to the fame that he now enjoys.
The show rated 18+ is scripted in a way in which 12 to 21 contestants dubbed as ‘housemates’ are camped in an isolated house for up to 90 days in the process competing for the grand prize and other benefits.
Over the years of it’s existence in Nigeria, there has been mixed feelings over the show with the proponents and antagonists of the show having their say.
But of note is the antagonists of the show trying to have their way- vis a viz the outright ban of the program under the guise that it promotes obscenity and immorality.
They centered their argument on the point that the show lacks content, doesn’t add value intellectually and promotes immorality with its lewd scenes.
It is of note that some person’s has already sent a petition to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to stop the airing of the show in Nigeria.
But how lewd is Big Brother Naija?
Is it any different from the music videos of Davido, Wizkid, Tekno, Burna Boy and others?
The videos we have been accustomed with that promotes obscenity in the truest of forms are still being aired on our local TV screens and there seem to be little outcry over that.
The argument that BBN promotes nudity and live sex is grossly exaggerated. There is no place in the show where the housemates appear naked. And the purported lovemaking in the house can only be argued. We are only availed of movements in duvets and covered clothes and not directly seeing them making love. It hasn’t yet be proven that it was real lovemaking or just a deep cuddle. Whatever it is, viewers are not being exposed to seeing two adults nakedly making out. The live sex talk as a reason for the ban of the program does not hence hold water.
Yes, the program may lack intellectually sound contents to some but that is still subjective. The in house games and tasks are mentally tasking aside from the entertainment aspect. Also living and getting along with total strangers for a period of 90 days is an act of emotional intelligence. You have to be emotionally mature to be able to deal with people of different and diverse backgrounds who will bring in their ideologies to the fore which may likely not be in tandem with yours. Thus, the show may in a way teach emotional maturity and intelligence and how to live peacefully with others. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
It is understandable if religiously inclined persons find the show offensive to their faith or moral beliefs but fortunately the channel has the option of a ‘opt out subscription’, which means you can remove the channel from your DSTV and GoTV list of channels. You would then be spared of the intrigues of the show.
There are a lot of borderline issues bedeviling our polity, (corruption, uneven wealth distribution, unemployment et al) and taking away a program that excites the youths in the face of the associated depression with these issues appears to be killing a fly with a sledge hammer.
One should ask a critical question: why is entertainment so highly valued among the Nigerian youths? Why are entertainers stupendously wealthy and the darlings of the media? It is because of the fact that they are helping to calm the minds of the youths in the midst of the plethora of mind boggling challenges in the highly dysfunctional state that our dear nation has tragically degenerated into no thanks to the visionless politicians that have been in the saddle since the return to democracy over two decades ago. The BBN is a tonic that keeps the youths away from criminal activities as they are glued to their television sets cheering their favourite housemates to victory.
It is hypocritical for such a show that has generated billions of naira to the organizers which has trickled down to jobs for the youths who work behind the scenes to make the show a resounding success to be abruptly scrapped because of the nauseating sentiments of a few ‘righteous ones’.
I sturdily believe in the age-long cliché ‘Live and let’s live.’
Arakunrin Ayoola Faseyi writes from Lagos