Saturday, 20 January 2007

What Howard Said

The smartest thing I've seen anyone write about Celebrity Big Brother so far:

Howard Jacobson: 'Big Brother' encourages us to embrace a condition far more worrying than racism

If society doesn't value knowledge and wisdom then this is what you get. People with attitudes like Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd, Jo O'Meara and Jack Tweedy have always existed, but they didn't get airtime in the days where only the talented, educated and connected had access to the media.

Big Brother claims very strongly to be about democracy. And in a modern democracy - as opposed to an ancient Greek one - maybe there is a requirement to give the uneducated and untalented a chance to reach a platform they couldn't have aspired to years ago.

Is meritocracy morally defensible? It might be more desirable in utilitarian terms, but is it moral to lock out the uneducated and untalented from the glittering prizes offered by modern celebrity?

(I don't know the answer - but if any moral philosophers are reading, please feel free to clue me in.)

Very few people can survive the scrutiny of Big Brother and emerge with no stain on their characters. As Germaine Greer learnt when she went into the Big House, the very situation is designed to create moments of human tension and drama. The BB producers rapidly came to understand the buttons they need to press to provoke the required responses. It is designed to bring out the very worst in people, and therefore also (rather less frequently), the very best.

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