the fractal structure of big brother

more than seventy countries produce their own copies based on the Big Brother code of reality tv. The formula, the code, crosses national boundaries, is as global as the appeal of its drama – sex and fights. The degree of tolerance to that drama increases over time globally just as the sense of its actors increases over time that they are actors and that what is expected of them – by audience and networks – is that they perform to a level to match increasing tolerances. But the drama in one country (the fights, presumably, not the sex?) does not successfully transcend cultures, nations. So that what arouses a Spanish audience’s interest, or what sparks controversy in Britain, will not be the same as that which is controversial and therefore good for audience numbers in Australia.

As the ‘creator’ of the Big Brother code has to say, We might all watch one production of one of Shakespeare’s plays or one Hollywood movie or one Bollywood movie but with Big Brother we have to make our own. There has to be a multiplicity.

Of course, it’s the topicality of the show that generates interest and controversy, the speed at which the media feeds off itself in the improvised figures of its local actors, the celerity with which an audience recognises itself in the temporising cycle of its changing prejudices. This is also like the racist joke – which in every national culture will have a different focus, a changing cast of characters, of racial stereotypes to slur. And that might in itself be the joke, the liberal joke.

Is it then a question of a fractalisation of drama in reality tv? Or what is the question of a drama that can be asked once and universally accepted as opposed to that asked in reality tv? What is the difference so that differences have to be made?

And is there an answering fractalisation – a generative microscale structure – in the social body, that body which spans both the industry producing reality and the industry producing reality tv?