Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BBA-2: Between reality and immorality

Features of the week:

The second edition of Big Brother Africa (BBA) widely aired on Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) channels globally has ended, but the marks thereafter left people wondering between the reality show and immorality it has become. Remmy Nweke reports.

At home with Usmans:

Middle class marketing executive based in Lagos, Mr. Usman Josephat, recently got a Digital Satellite Television popularly known as DSTv subscription for his household of teenagers in the neighbourhood of 16 and 18 years of old, based on his wife’s endorsement.

Not quite long after the second phase of the Big Brother Africa (BBA-2) began and these youths sooner than later commenced vacation and the best household friend became the television set as everyone seemed to be glued to the DSTv channel being disseminated through the MultiChoice Nigeria.

One day, and precisely on Saturday, October 27, 2007, Usman felt sick at the office and had to be home earlier than usual, unfortunately, that was the beginning of another chapter in his family as he discovered the kind of immorality going on at the supposed reality show, which he was made to understand was designed to bring Africans together to live and learn from each other in estimated 98 days, an approximated 14 weeks.

Of course, he was disappointed and by the time the wife returned, they took a decision to disconnect the DSTv channel or better still lock it pending the conclusion of BBA-2.

Drawing a line:

For him, there must be a line between reality and immorality TV shows. Reality, according Longman dictionary of contemporary English, defined it as “things that actually happen or are true, not things that are imagined or thought about,” while immorality is the “behaviour that is morally wrong.”

Mr. Usman’s main reason of discomfort was that if Tanzanian randy boy, Richard Bezuidenhout, could come on air to be committing infidelity, especially since he claimed to be married and even went ahead to have his ring on all this while in the house; yet he carried on as if nothing was really wrong with his freak actions, then, something is wrong somewhere, moreso with the Big Brother supposedly watching 24/7.

And to his utmost bewilderment, the same randy Richard was eventually proclaimed the winner against others, most especially the Nigerian lady, Ms Ofunneka Molokwu, whom he gathered from the words of some eminent Africans and Nigerians particularly, was ‘an epitome of African woman.’

Obviously for some industry analysts, the first question that came to mind on learning about Richard winning was how the scores came about.

Home truth:

According to the organisers voting came in inform of Short Messaging Service (SMS) from various countries, especially participating 13 voting blocks, which means to emerge a winner, must receive overwhelming votes from viewers in these countries and in the case of Richard who got 7 against Ofunneka who got 5 and Richard’s concubine, Tatiana getting votes from her home country, Angola.

The basic home truth about it all is that the family values have continued to degenerate on the continent and most people seem unbothered and now that we have seen it vividly showcased not only on the continent by our own people, the fact remains that families, especially in South-Eastern Africa need to wake up, otherwise very soon, the whole continent could be painted ‘red’ as in HIV/AIDS.

Clearly, the indication of the voting pattern at the Big Brother Africa 2 was that morality is fast giving way for immorality and in a reality show like BBA-2, there seem to be non-stop.

Although concerned Africans have continued to cry out like the days of Jeremiah of the evil that is gradually taking over our values. Particularly, one of those voices was that of the Federal Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. John Odey, who sent out the government congratulatory message with a footnote, that Ms Molokwu represented true African woman and made Nigeria proud.

He urged the organisers to ensure that future shows place premium on the upliftment of high moral values for the youths, even as he commended Ofunneka for her performance throughout the event, which depicted virtues that are important to Nigeria.

For an avid moralist follower of the BBA-2, it was unbecoming for Richard to strip his fellow housemates of their clothes when they were drunk, the intent not withstanding, considering his escapades in the house as sex maniac.

October 27 episode:

Frankly speaking, every moral person thought that the incident of October 27, which the show analyst, Sara Spivey, described as ‘sexual assault’ in her piece, Who-is-big-brother-to-big-brother-africa-2; should have sent Richard packing on moral grounds, but here he is definitely smiling with his sack of $100,000 and of course generating bad blood for the BBA-2 organisers, M-Net.

For a screenwriter, broadcaster and producer, Ms Bolanle Aduwo, though, the contest ended penultimate Sunday, November 11, with the winner going home with $100,000, but lamented that only even if Ofunneka had won, that was still chicken change compared to what she could get on leaving the Big Brother house to watch the footage of her very public humiliation, moreso bothering on BBA sex scandal.

Nigerians back ban on BBA:

Yet for another concerned Nigerian, Mr. Vesper Owei, while reacting to the entire episode and reported ban on airing of future BBA in Nigeria, especially when it does not project any moral value to the future generation, by the lower house of the National Assembly (NASS), at the weekend, noted that ‘prostitution’ could be “entertaining” for some.

He stressed that it is not seen as immoral by this kind of people and really does not require any philosophical discourse to recognize what is sex or immoral in a given society.

“To argue that immorality is subjective would mean that other socially, or even culturally, unacceptable practices, such as murder, armed robbery, white collar theft, and so on, could become justified and, therefore, accepted on subjective grounds. These practices are highly entertaining to the depraved ones,” he pointed out.

Also, he said that such a pithy axiom does not in itself provide an argument for the social appropriateness of the conduct in question. And that is the whole point, emphasising, “It is a question of social appropriateness.”

Yet for another concerned Nigerian, who choose the part of anonymity, though “One man’s immorality is another’s entertainment,” any right thinking African who had watched BBA2, “you’d agree that it was nothing but sleaze, prostitution, marital infidelity, sex, morbid immorality, gushing sensuality at its most offensive public display.”

He asked those who argued that it was ‘entertainment,’ since when have immorality become entertainment? Is morbid voyeurism fun, especially when it is on a continental scale?

He observed that the age restriction warning carried by the station did not free them of any responsibility, because it was mere intellectual, and rather ineffectual, chicanery to argue otherwise.

Adding that the only regret he had was that the NASS members did not pull the plug while the whole sickening display was unfolding.

However, he commended, NASS for at least, stepping up for once to make a proud statement about the mother country!

The ban in retrospect:

The lower house rose from last week, Wednesday session to declare a ban on airing of BBA in Nigeria by directing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to discontinue the airing of any clip or debate on Big Brother Africa (BBA), especially among electronic media in the country.

The reality TV show, ended penultimate Sunday with a Nigerian girl, Ofunneka Molokwu, emerging second.

Reacting to the entire incident that transpired, the House Committee on Information and National Orientation, summoned the Director-General, NBC, Mr Yomi Bolarinwa, who informed the committee that the commission had earlier drawn the attention of the MultiChoice Nigeria management to the nudity being shown on the pay TV being managed by them in several countries of the world including the nation’s airwave.

According to Bolarinwa, NBC had invited MultiChoice on two occasions when it initially observed that the company was contravening the laws guiding broadcasting in the country.

However, handing down the order, committee chairman, Honourable Dino David Melaye, said that even though, the show has ended, the House was against showing the clips of the nudity displayed, noting it was not in consonant with African cultures and values.

“We will not tolerate a foreign company to abuse and insult the sensibility of our people. What was showed on the BBA was an insult on the image of Africa. This is why we ordered NBC, who regulate what goes on air to stop hence with any serialization, analysis or clips of the BBA.

“We condemned in totality, what happened on October 27th when a Nigerian was abused in the glare of the public. It is against the code of NBC and we have told the commission to discontinue any broadcast that has to do with BBA,” Dino declared.

He added that in view of the recklessness of the broadcasting outfit, MultiChoice cum M-Net, that the National Assembly would determine the future of MultiChoice in Nigeria, adding that it was incumbent on every nation to protect the choice and values of the people.

Notable vexing issues was the live cast of inmates having sex and the emergence of a married man as the winner of the show equally attracted negative comments about the future of BBA.

Waiting for the prostitutes:

Basics here is that future BBA will be saturated with prostitutes taking up the forms to showcase their talents and poses a big challenge to the family values, although its glaring the differences between the Southern and Western hemisphere in terms of the continental culture on issues of morality, immorality and reality of the TV show.

An issue management of BBA, M-Net and MultiChoice in terms of Nigeria, should have been proactive in taking relevant steps, knowing fully well the implication of what has now become the outcome.

Besides, the truth however is that as we tend to wait for the ‘prostitutes’ in the coming editions of BBA, Nigeria as a country must wake up to the neo-colonialism by Southern African firms especially in entertainment and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which tend to submerge Nigerians life style, and is something the authorities ought to watch carefully. Yet, House members were engulfed in the Etteh-gate that they could not had interjected earlier, even the Senate without the serious unannounced recesses like the lower house, concerned and should have acted promptly to save the situation.

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