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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Shakespeare and Big Brother
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0580  Wednesday, 5 September 2007

[1] 	From: 		Skip Nicholson <
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	Date: 		Tuesday, 4 Sep 2007 08:15:00 -0700
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0577 Shakespeare and Big Brother

[2] 	From: 		Margaret Hargrave <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 11:57:09 +1000
	Subj: 		Shakespeare and Big Brother


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Skip Nicholson <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 4 Sep 2007 08:15:00 -0700
Subject: 18.0577 Shakespeare and Big Brother
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0577 Shakespeare and Big Brother

As Neil Postman used to point out, Joseph Goebbels held a Ph.D. from the 
University of Heidelberg in 18th century romantic drama. In addition to 
showing a notable lack of "decency, kindness and love of fellow human 
beings," he instigated the brownshirts' 1933 Bebelplatz burning of works 
by such writers as Heine and Mann. (How he would fare on Big Brother 
remains perplexing.)

Cheers,
Skip Nicholson
South Pasadena, CA

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Margaret Hargrave <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 11:57:09 +1000
Subject: 	Shakespeare and Big Brother

You are indeed fortunate if, in the United States, you do not have the 
_Big Brother_ program. This surprises me. We in Australia have it--so I 
suppose that, if it didn't start on the other side of the Pacific, it 
must have started in the UK!  From all accounts, it is crass.

I have had to endure watching it once or twice when visiting a relative. 
Briefly: contestants are sequestered in a house and their every move is 
recorded on video cameras placed in, apparently, every corner of the 
residence. This allows a voyeuristic public to see personality clashes, 
etc. Some scandalous goings-on have been reported in the press--a 
notorious racist comment to a Bollywood actress who was a fellow 
contestant in the UK version and, in Australia, the 'turkey slapping' 
incident. Incredibly lewd, crude stuff! This is 'reality' television. 
The title is, of course, derived from Orwell's great, black satire. Each 
week the public votes for one housemate to be 'evicted' (I think) -- I'm 
not sure if other contestants are involved in the process. The winner 
receives a huge amount of money. As far as I can make out, the (usually 
young) people who enter do so in the hope that it will boost pop star 
aspirations.

The _Big Brother_ phenomenon has led to people associating the phrase 
with the ghastly TV show, not with Orwell.

A retired secondary school English teacher based in Sydney, I have had 
conversations with colleagues who truly believe we are entering a new 
Dark Age, in which there is shallow, if any, knowledge of history, 
philosophy and the truly great works in music and literature. I concur. 
What sort of age is it when Bob Dylan is described as the world's 
greatest-ever songwriter, and few have heard of Franz Schubert or have 
listened to Richard Strauss's _Four Last Songs_? Sorry: I could go on 
and on. I am reminded of what Hesse described in _The Glass Bead Game_.

Margaret Hargrave

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