July 22nd 2006

  Buy Issue 2736

Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Costello stays on ... for the time being

EDITORIAL: China: let the truth be told

ECONOMY: ABS report card on Australia's economy

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Liberals turning to Whitlam-style centralism

AGRICULTURE: Tax breaks for wealthy hurting agriculture

INTERNET FILTERING: Coonan's cash buys a dud

STRAWS IN THE WIND: In days of old, when knights were bold / Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings / When the music stopped / The never-ending blood feud / Keeping the lid on our schools

CULTURE WARS: Is it too late to save our civilisation?

SCHOOLS: Time to teach proper history

OPINION: The Muslim problem facing Australia

MEDICAL SCIENCE: Media hype over cloning and embryo stem cells

MEDIA: Time to evict Channel Ten's 'Big Brothel'

Adoption fears (letter)

Aboriginal tragedy (letter)

Sexual integrity and Big Brother (letter)

BOOKS: Laurence Rees, AUSCHWITZ: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution' / THE NAZIS: A Warning from History


Books promotion page

Time to evict Channel Ten's 'Big Brothel'

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, July 22, 2006
Voyeurism is now widely promoted as an art form, writes Bill Muehlenberg. It is called entertainment.

The latest sexcapade on Channel Ten's Big Brother program demonstrates that the show is well past its use-by date. Indeed, it was past its use-by date six years ago when it first appeared. How much further down the septic tank do we have to go before Channel Ten realises that this show is one big mistake, and pulls it off the air, never to be seen again?

The alleged sexual assault that took place on BB, early Saturday morning, July 1, was simply the inevitable result of a program that seeks to shock and offend. It is the logical outcome of a format that puts sexed-up kids into a sexed-up house, and bids them to party, party, party.

And we call this reality TV! The only person I know of who parties 24-7 without a care in the world is Paris Hilton. Most young people do not live this way. Thus the whole show is artificial and a fraud. And it is also a lousy role model for young people.

That these kinds of outrageous sexual shenanigans should happen is not at all surprising. The whole show is set up for this very thing to happen. Take a bunch of hormonally-charged young people, put them into a sexual hothouse, complete with group showers, communal beds, and a never-ending supply of free alcohol, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. And that is exactly what we are getting.

Thus it was only a matter of time. These sleazy antics naturally flow from such an environment. But of course Ten is giving us the usual baloney. "We don't condone this behaviour," they whine. "We do not accept this kind of conduct."

Puh-leese, tell me another. They are responsible for it. They made it all possible. They are the ones who set up conditions so that such activities were as sure to follow as night follows day. So please, Channel Ten, spare us your crocodile tears.

Also, a Sydney academic, Catherine Lumby - who also happens to be paid by Ten to advise BB - said the whole thing was no big deal, and that Ten acted responsibly by removing the two male housemates who were involved in the sexual aggression.

Sorry, Catherine, but Channel Ten has not been acting responsibly now for six years. It was irresponsible to air the show in the first place, and the only responsible thing to do would be to pull this toxic TV show off the air once and for all.

Now, just in case the folk at Ten are a bit slow to grasp my meaning here, let me provide a simple illustration. Suppose you put a dozen five-year-olds in a room, filled with cardboard boxes and old newspapers. Also in the room are cans of petrol and other flammable liquids. Also, there are matches and cigarette-lighters scattered throughout the room.

Now will anyone really be surprised to hear that a fire has broken out in the room? Would it make much sense to have Big Brother's voice boom over the speakers, telling the kids, "You have acted irresponsibly - please leave the room?" Most people would say it was the clowns who set this situation up in the first place who were being irresponsible.

Of course, I am not saying that the housemates on BB were not responsible for their actions. They were, and are. But it is Ten which allowed this situation to fester and flourish in the first place. They are the ones who share the blame if sexual assaults take place.

Not only is Ten partly responsible for this whole sordid mess, but it bears the same sort of responsibility that the cruise-ship company bears, following the recent sexual assault, and tragic death of a woman on a pleasure cruise. The BB situation mirrors this exactly. In both cases, sexual pleasure was promised, with no or little responsibility. Fortunately now, the cruise-ship company is cleaning up its act, and banning wild, drunken sex parties. The question to ask is: when will Ten do the same?

But of course there is money to be made, so Ten will simply shirk its community responsibility and tell parents and concerned viewers to effectively drop dead. And they are laughing all the way to the bank in the process.

It is interesting that, up until quite recently, voyeurism was considered to be a sickness. Every textbook on abnormal psychology listed voyeurism as a classic case of an unbalanced mind. Now it is an art form. We call it entertainment. Peeping toms used to be arrested for what they did (watching strangers undress, take showers, and so on). Now the Ten Network gets big money for encouraging us all to be voyeurs.


This is a sign of a culture that has lost the plot. If the only way we can now get our kicks is to watch a bunch of young people making spectacles of themselves - and worse - then Australia is in a bad way.

It is time Ten admits that BB is a monumental catastrophe, and has no place on public airwaves.

I won't hold my breath, however, waiting to see this happen. Ten seems to have about as much conscience as some of the BB housemates.

  • Bill Muehlenberg is secretary of the Family Council of Victoria.

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