The rich opportunities and positive impact Big Brother Nigeria have on society should be seen regardless of the controversy over the show’s influence on public morality.
Like the metaphorical tree that gets stoned every time it bears fruit by the good, the bad and the ugly, the show comes under fire from Nigerians who point out all the reasons young people shouldn’t watch the show. The Nigerian government has been requested to outrightly ban the show from airing on national television for one specific reason, moral decadence. It is obvious that the show has attracted those who want to criticize it without considering the positive social impact it could have, however, I believe that a shift in emphasis toward the show’s positive effects is long overdue.
The Big Brother Nigeria television show is an informational program. It is not only intended to entertain the audience, but it is also intended to provide vital information necessary for navigating life and society, as well as to educate the audience on important life issues. The weekly wager tasks, arena games, Head of House challenges, sponsorship challenges, guest appearances, and special events that comprise most of the reality show not only provide the ideal opportunity for housemates to showcase their talents and anything within their coffers, but also add to the excitement generated by the show. Housemates are expected to pool their skills and talents to complete these tasks, either as a team or individually. They must also use their creativity, physical endurance, and mental prowess in tandem with cognitive and critical thinking and develop various strategies to win these challenges.
The question we must ask ourselves is If we were given the chance to be housemates like those in the show, would we be able to entertain the audience differently from other housemates? Do we really have anything to add to the show that hasn’t been shown in previous seasons? Drunken revelry, total disrespect for oneself and others, an inability to feel shame and embarrassment, bad behavior and toxicity, the inability to live and coexist peacefully amongst ourselves, the inability to hold different opinions and perspectives on a particular discourse without it degenerating into an exchange of words and insults, with a lack of decorum and no thought for posterity.
All these are the obvious vices we see in the show. However, behind these vices and hidden underneath this display of lack of values is the fact that what we see in the show is a typical reflection of our present society. This moral decadence, the loss of all the values that made us who we are, and the subtle degeneration of our society to get rich quick syndrome, explains why people all over the country are looking for any way to get into the big brother house, because being in the big brother house automatically translates into wealth and fame, whether deserved or not.
How can we escape this predicament? Contrary to popular opinion, I do not believe that canceling the show is the best solution. If we all agree that the show is a wake-up call to what our society has become and has the potential to reform society, then we must ensure that the right people who can model the values we wish to see in society attend the show.
The show’s organizers must revise their selection criteria to emphasize excellence and merit over mediocrity and arrogant ignorance. Selection criteria should no longer be based on how people are willing to let go of their shame and value just to impress a viewing public, but it must be on how long people are willing to hold on to their values in other to be better role models and excellent representation of the Nigerian society.
Using the proper channels, we must collectively demand that the organizers provide us with housemates with the right talents and skill set, candidates who have great business acumen, great leadership skills and evidence to support them, and people with good sportsmanship so that every task and sponsorship challenge does not devolve into a loud shouting match. The organizers must ensure that these housemates are knowledgeable of national affairs so that the viewing audience, especially the children, is not insulted by the display of proud ignorance.
Even the Big Brother House needs to reflect the dignity represented by the horses on the Nigerian coat of arms. Every individual taking up a spot in the big brother’s house must be deserving of the position. The entire show must represent the highest standards possible, a gathering of the best of the best, so that the values we want to see in our society can be perfectly modeled.
Adaora Emehel writes from Nazarbayev University, Astana Kazakhstan
(Political Science and International Relations)