We Are Watching Big Brother Naija: Is Nigeria Becoming Orwell’s Nightmare?

We Are Watching Big Brother Naija: Is Nigeria Becoming Orwell’s Nightmare?

By Mutiu Iyanda

In the previous analysis, the argument was that the consequences of watching the Big Brother Naija show by the youths are enormous despite the tolerance, creativity, fame among other benefits claimed by the organisers and supporters of the show. The tolerance, creativity and fame may be beneficial to the individual participants. But, in the long term, they undermine morality of other youths capable of leading to committing antisocial behaviours such as rape, cybercrime, rituals for money making purpose among others.

The stance in the analysis was that the programme should be banned from the Nigerian broadcasting space. This position attracted mixed feelings from the Tekedia’s Community. Some members of the Tekedia community want the immoral parts/scenes from the programme be expunged, while others prefer that organisers and other broadcast content providers offer alternatives, analysis of the comments reveals. In the current piece, there is a need for us to reflect on the previous actions and those surfaced in the last 11 days of the show.

The Hard Reflections

Big Brother Naija is an offshoot of the Big Brother Africa which derived its name from the Big Brother Shows in America and Europe. In the early days of the BBA, the show attracted an average of 30 million audiences. In the previous edition, “The Nigerian representative, Ofunneka was first, thought to be the most morally decent. She, however, incurred the wrath of viewers when footages of the show revealed that she was involved in an act with the eventual winner, Richard, who was shown having some suggestive and amorous contact with her.

“Information has it that already there were 4,584 clicks on the video of Richard and Ofunneka escapades on YouTube. MNET (which transmitted the program) had earlier apologised to the Nigerian government over the sexually offensive video clips on the Big Brother Africa reality show. However, the deed had been done and its effect on viewers is not reversible.”

In his reaction to the BBA, Professor Wole Soyinka, the renowned playwright and social commentator, described the show as ‘banal, lacking anything to offer for the continent.  All we need is just getting some prostitutes on the streets and lunatics to go naked for nothing’. For the Nigerian version of the show, the public criticism trailing it has also been documented.

Despite all the criticisms from the public analysts and renowned social commentators, some Nigerians still believe that the show does not constitute a threat to the country’s social and cultural values.  George Orwell wrote his 1984 novel in 1949, describing a society in which “whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth” and “the Ministry of Truth” promotes “doublethink” and “newspeak.”  As Orwell observed, with the show, we are embracing dangerous idea in the name of globalisation! Yes, we can’t afford to be bench-warmer in the global space, but, we also need to realise the long term negative consequences of short gratifications we are enjoying today.

Indeed, BBN is a social experiment. It is impossible for everyone to avoid watching. If you decide to remove the channels from your Cable Television, it is impracticable to always follow your children, tracking their viewing behaviour. If Cable Television is not available for the children, what about the YouTube? Instead of addressing the negative consequences of our present actions, we are whipping up popular feeling of do not spoil someone’s business through propaganda.

BBN is a strategic tool for long term antisocial behaviour. This position has rightly been supported by a recent study, which reveals that sampled students of the Lagos State University who watched Big Brother Africa had higher mean sexual behaviour, indicating that it influences their sexual behaviour.

BBN and Public’s Sexual Information Seeking in 11 Days

Now, let us make sense of the emerging results of the ongoing edition. Before that, it is imperative for us to understand that 78% of 925 respondents within the age group of 21 to 25 years studied by the Business Day reported that they used the Internet for social or personal interests, while 58% watched television on any device and listening to music (57%).

“When queried on the kind of videos respondents watched on their laptops, tablets and mobile phones, TV show episodes/clips accounted for 58 percent of videos viewed Entire movies (downloaded versions) accounted for 51 percent of video consumption. Funny clips and videos constituted 46 percent closely followed by music videos with 43 percent of coverage.”

From these results, it is obvious that the youths cannot avoid using the Internet and other Internet-enabled platforms for entertainment purposes. In the last 11 days (June 30 to July 10, 2019), Big Brother Naija and Sex have been searched mostly by the people in Abia, Adamawa, Sokoto, Ekiti, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Kwara, Osun, Edo, Ogun, Kaduna, Oyo, Lagos states and Abuja.

Situating this within the context of the Internet users, it is not difficult to understand that youths would constitute the highest percent of the searchers. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total number of Internet users in the states and Abuja is 64,874,973 (according to Q4, 2018 report). Excluding Sokoto and Kaduna states, where people did not have an interest in BBN, the total Internet users for locations in search of BBN top searches is 58,348,527. Considering the average percent (70%) of locations of search, analysis shows that 40,843,968 Internet users sought knowledge about the show. Using the same approach (average percent=53%), analysis indicates that 28,850,196 Internet users, excluding Abia, Adamawa, Delta and Kwara states where interest in sex was not established, understood sex using the Internet during the period under review.

Source: Google Trends, 2019

These insights look promising. But, they are actually pointers to the need to overhaul the BBN’s contents. For instance, the analysis further shows that the top searches (big brother Naija 2019, big brother 2019 housemates) connected with the top searches (sex videos, sex film, Naija sex video and Nollywood sex) by 98.9% within the YouTube. The BBN’s top searches helped the public in understanding sex activities by 97.9%.  We should not forget that YouTube is the largest video-sharing website in the world and second-most used search engine after Google. Taking into account the platform, analysis further indicates that it is not used by the public to understand creativity, fame and tolerance benefit-claims of the BBN.

Source: Google Trends, Infoprations Analysis, 2019

No De-Marketing: We Need Sustainable Social Behaviour

Source: Google, Infoprations Analysis, 2019

As we are “watching” the show and public criticisms continue stalking it, it is highly essential for us to understand people who are not in support are not de-marketing anyone’s business. We just need to realise that media affects the society, both negatively and positively. It is a powerful tool which could be used for the positive and negative development at personal and societal levels.

There is no doubt Africa and other ‘developing’ continents have to live with the reality of the globalization. Despite this, we need to increase the quantity of African cultural educational content. Failure to do this, the western world will continue to dictate to us the kind of culturally-driven life we must live and the categories of identity we must exhibit.

When it is necessary to solve identified frictions in any society, the most unique and appropriate way of doing that is to consider purpose driven model not emphasizing profit driven one. Peter Drucker famously said, “Profit is not the purpose of a business, rather the test of its validity.” Drucker wants us to know that making profit as the endgame is not only meaningless, but also potentially dangerous for the larger society.

The outcome of the analysis of the Tekedia community’s reaction to the previous article shows a 35.4% connection of the views of those who support the show (including their social capital measured using likes, replies) with those on the opposite of the spectrum. With 6.40 mean score and severity of 9.511 (profit-driven group), Drucker’s message resonates with the supporting camp’s stance on the issue. When we build or join purpose-driven companies that inspire, the potential to improve the world is limitless.

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One thought on “We Are Watching Big Brother Naija: Is Nigeria Becoming Orwell’s Nightmare?

  1. I must confess that I have never watched this show since I do not live where they broadcast it. So, my commentary may be all imaginations. Yet, I will hope Nigerians show the same level of anger against corruption when their sons/daughters steal from Abuja and come home with big cars as they are showing on BBNaija. We cannot praise political-corruption and condemn BBNaija. Get me right, I have never watched this show.

    But I am concerned that an OMATA boy bought out a professor who was made a Chairman in a wedding and sat there, and everyone clapped! That is more dangerous than people watching a show average Nigerians cannot even afford to subscribe (I guess it is possibly on cable, not NTA or free one).


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