"Little Brother", the reality show for children aged 8-11, brought back controversy and moral questions over the Big Brother-style shows.

The new Channel 4 show will be broadcasted for two weeks, as a four-part series, with ten boys and ten girls surviving without any parental guidance.

Violence, bullying, intimidation and children sobbing in the six isolated cottages in Cornwall led to the audience’s dismay, according to Times Online.

However as The Daily Mail reports, the programme-makers said that the show intends to test whether today’s “cotton-wool kids” could survive alone, or whether modern society has forced them to grow up too quickly.

"Big Brother" was first aired in the United Kingdom in 2000 and was one of the first reality shows to follow the concept of continuously watching a group of people.

Since then, the ethical issue of exposing private moments to the public view remains one of the main contemporary debates that divides public opinion.

Orwell’s “Nineteen eighty-four”

Cameras and microphones at all times and places, no contact with the outside world, the room in which the housemates convey their thoughts, the community spirit, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.

Does this seem familiar?

These are actually bywords deriving from George Orwell's book Nineteen eighty-four (1949) by which he introduced to the public his nightmare about a monitored world.

George Orwell's last book, which was transferred to the big screen in 1984, is set in London in a province in Oceania, which is one of the three intercontinental super-states.

The Oceanian's people are monitored and divided in three classes, the Inner Party, the Outer Party and the Proles - as the housemates were in some "Big Brother" editions.

The "Big Brother" show was named after the Inner Party's leader, who is all-powerful and his posters with the capture "Big Brother is watching you" dominates the city landscapes, but nobody has ever seen him.

Nobody is allowed to exit the city without permission and Big Brother is omnipresent to impose his rules and make sure that there are no allies.

Aside from the massive political symbolism, George Orwell's foresight was meant to be one of the most popular reality shows and a major commercial success.

The "Truman show"

The Orwellian "Big Brother" concept entered Hollywood once again with "The Truman Show" (1998) and Jim Carrey as the leading protagonist.

Truman Burkbank is a normal man leading a regular life in a small island.

He is happily married and he works as a desk clerk for an insurance company.

His thirst for life is identified with his will to leave his hometown and explore the world, but strangely enough, unpredictable obstacles make it impossible.

Truman eventually finds out that from the very first day of his life he is starring in a reality show and he has to deal with the truth; what he thought was an open horizon was actually a wall.

The film was released two years before the first "Big Brother" show and genuinely introduced the idea of monitoring somebody’s life as an alternative non-scripted show.

The ethical issue of putting private mattersinto the public forum remains a controversial issue - but, it seems, also makes for good entertainment.


Photo by Vasiliki Dermitzi
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Big Brother reshuffles Orwell's dilemma

By: Vasiliki Dermitzi