Weekend Binge: Look here Bigg Boss, this is how to really do the Big Brother concept
With Salman Khan ready to return with Bigg Boss 11, we’re looking at five examples - from a Matt Damon sci-fi movie to Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror - of the Big Brother concept done right.
Every week, we will curate a collection of titles - movies, TV, general miscellanea - for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks - which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.
While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events - it could be the release of a new movie, or show - we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.
We’re going to change things up a bit this week. Instead of looking back, we’ll show a bit of foresight. Bigg Boss will enter its eleventh season on Sunday - and before you raise an eyebrow in disbelief, hear us out. The concept of Big Brother, observed from a distance, isn’t as low-brow as Bigg Boss - with all its Dolly Bindras and KRKs - has made it out to be.
We’re living in a post-Edward Snowden world, when government surveillance is a very real, and very terrifying thing - but God forbid Bigg Boss does anything more intelligent than pitting ex-lovers against each other.
Cultural, religious, socio-economic integration, spirituality, the concept of God - Bigg Boss has somehow managed to avoid being cerebral despite a premise that positively demands it.
But to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, “We’ll always have Charlie Brooker.”
If you’ve ever wondered how a show like Bigg Boss is produced, look no further than UnReal. Set behind-the-scenes of a dating reality show, UnReal tells a story that is even more scandalous and pulpy than the very Bigg Boss-like drivel they’re shooting. The psychological manipulation of the contestants; the power dynamics in front of, and behind the camera; and the hunger to rise to the top - these are all Bigg Boss staples, explored with frightening insight.
It’ll take a special kind of apathy for a person to read this premise and still not be interested in immediately bingeing Dead Set, but here goes: A new season of Big Brother is about to start. One by one the new contestants are introduced - they fit snugly into their categories. There’s a posh girl, a young man of Pakistani descent, an ASBO... You get the idea. But soon after the show begins - and we, the audience, enter the house with them - a zombie outbreak happens on the outside. Suddenly, the Big Brother house is the safest place in the UK, perhaps even the world.
Dead Set comes from the genius mind of Charlie Brooker, a name you should probably memorise, because we’ll be returning to it in a bit.
The Truman Show
To this day, it might be the best performance Jim Carrey has ever given. The film’s central idea - that we are a part of a large scale show, directed by an elderly white man, and no decision taken by us matters - raises interesting ideas about predestination and free will.
The Adjustment Bureau
But if predestination and free will and the existence of God are ideas that keep you awake, look no further than this sci-fi gem. Matt Damon plays a politician who, after a chance meeting with a girl, veers off the course - called ‘the Plan’ - set for him by someone known as ‘the Chairman’. Everyone is a part of a plan, and no one is allowed to deviate from it. But Damon breaks away, and sets into motion a chain of events that were never meant to happen, causing a rift in the ‘plans’ of everyone he comes into contact with.
Black Mirror: The White Bear
While you should, if you haven’t already, watch every episode of Charlie Brooker’s masterpiece show (preferably multiple times), you should especially watch The White Bear - the second episode of the second season. Brooker’s world view is dismal. And this episode is a scathing takedown of our worst tendencies as human beings - we’re shameless voyeurs, we take pleasure in the misfortune of others, and we lack empathy. It’s a rather morbid way to end this week’s piece, but there you have it.