The Socio-Cultural Effects of Big Brother Naija on Nigerian Youth

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By Yami Bamgboye

Nigeria, no doubt, is outstandingly known to have unprecedented receptacle for pedagogical nuaces of external influences. That didn’t start today, it started a long time ago. From religion, politics to the economy and then, to lifestyle–the chief of all. As a way of a people, it’s naturally, most times unconsciously, structured to suit their unique fancies of taste and fashion. If Nigeria was the U.S and Igbo was their culture,I’m sure you won’t be shocked at how creative they would get with it. Of course there is a number of franchised reality TV shows in the country but Big Brother Nigeria stands out like a sore thumb.Whoa whoa whoa…you may want to sheath your sword for a second before you activate your adrenaline.

Like Project Fame, Nigerian Idol, X-Factor etc. all aim to achieve a specific purpose of discovering and launching talents, what then is that one purpose of Big Brother Nigeria? A quick digging into the originality and etymology reveals that the name and concept is the adaptation of George Orwell’s coinage and dipiction of an oppressive government that constantly monitored the activities of its citizenry in his Nineteen-Eighty Four novel. John De Mol, the Dutch billionaire who inaguarated the show in 1997 in the Netherlands could take credit for such ingenious creation–not even after selling the franchise to about 54 countries in the world. That notwithstanding, in my candid opinion, he failed to clearly define in simple terms what it hopes to achieve. Now, let’s consider this together.Wikipedia says ‘The format of the series is mainly seen as a social experiment and requires HouseGuests (contestants) to interact with others who may have differing ideals, beliefs, and prejudices. While a competition, the series allows viewers to witness the relationships formed in the house and the behavior of the HouseGuests’. Do you understand that because I’m really trying from this end. LOL. But if spending millions of kobo, maybe naira to erect a custom-built house with luxury and air the daily activities of the contestants for as long as seventy-something days is all for some social cum behavioural experiment, then we are in deep trouble!

Considering the natural appeal of sex to teenagers and adults, we can’t deny the fact that the wide acceptance of the show stems from its explicit sexual content, the strongest incentive of the producers and sponsors. This alone is conspicuously devastating to young minds and those struggling with opposing moral values. A little psychological science portends that the eyes are like cameras that playback captured images in the brain through visualization and other mental techniques to attract the desired circumstances. So, the more I watch and revel in activities involving kissing and fondling of sensitive parts, the more I think about them and want to do the same. That, simply, is promotion of promiscuity and gross abuse of cherished African values. Except we want to deliberately ignore sincerity, everyone knows that sexual perversion today is on per second increase and the values of sexual sanctity is almost extinct (if you doubt this, ask your 16-year old sister in SS1 if she’s still a ‘V’). That is not to say that national television (digital or terrestrial) should be the vehicle for such. If not curbed, the psychological meanings are sheer endorsement by the government and a new irresponsible model of living for young people.

No businessman plunges into a venture with a kobo without estimating, to a large extent, how much it would generate in return. So, corporate firms and individuals who pool resources together every year to sponsor this show rely on the instigated fooly of their victims (contestants) to make double their investments. Should the viewership drop, it’s game over! Now, you know why a contestant can do anything they’re asked to do to remain in the game. That is what I call economic exploitation. The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Universe is one entertainment company I love so much. They do exactly the same thing but professionally. If a guy or lady feels they have the muscles and strength to wrestle to entertain, they sign up with the company and get hired. It’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Rather than select randomly every year from a population of materialistic mentalism, Big Brother Nigeria should rebrand and consciously launch a full-blown porn company that would sign up willing actors already doomed to entertain the world with their nudity.

It’s so saddening to know that most corporate organizations in the Nigeria of this day are truly the champions of mental ineptness among the youth. A friend who developed a TV show based on logical reasoning was turned down by numerous corporate firms. They said they couldn’t invest in it because it would take years before yeilding. That’s what they do! They have caused attention to shift from virtues of being hardworking; steady ascension on the rungs of social and economic strata to materialistic mentalism of quick wealth. If I know that it only takes a few weeks in an isolated custom-built house with so much luxury for me to get a couple of millions and rise to stardom, why would I ever want to get an 8-5 job with 50k monthly pay? Why would I when I know that there are possiblities of getting multi-million naira contracts to be the face and brand ambassadors of multi-national companies? Why would I want to get creative and think of how to add value to the society? Why would I place so much premium on academics if my lifestlye turns around to be my certificate? Funnily, they hypocritically cry wolf ‘Education is in shambles’, ‘Most university graduates are not employable’. Thumbs up for makers of Cowbell who sponsor mathematics and English competitions at the secondary school level, Shell Nigeria for numerous academic projects and scholarships they give to under-graduate and post-graduate students every year and a few more (companies) that don’t enjoy media attention.

Everyone has a lifestyle that oozes the relativity of  what is good or appropriate. This, I believe, explains the thick skin organizers of BBN have developed to criticisms over the years. However, there is a need for the government to intervene and prevail over them to adopt a decent lifestyle model devoid of sexual content. Like it is with franchise, they can infuse other things on culture: intense mental activities that can provoke critical thinking, rate IQ levels, advance the acquisition of more knowledge and exposure in the business world. Corporate firms and individual sponsors should also endeavour to invest in the development of technology. There are so many Nigerian youth who daily create technological solutions. They await the attention and sponsorship those who entertain us with their nudity get. Should they be helped or sponsored, Nigeria will become one of the largest producers of sophisticated technological solutions in the world. If you doubt this, give it a shot!

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