Gogglebox, government surveillance and 1984

Gogglebox

I can’t believe it, but a year on and I’m still just as hooked on Channel 4’s Gogglebox as ever. Who would have thought that watching people watching TV could actually turn out to be more entertaining than all of your other reality TV shows, drama, talent shows and all the rest combined? Not me, that’s for sure. When it first aired, I was pretty sceptical and thought, like many others, that this must be the most desperate attempt to pull in audiences yet. I refused to watch it, thinking it would be a huge waste of my time, but when I caught an episode by accident, I couldn’t help but get addicted.

It’s hilarious. Why? Because it is so simple and it shows real people from all branches of society – the type of people we see walking down our streets and the ones we work with. They are people we come into contact with and this brush with reality is refreshing after seeing how programmes like Geordie Shore and Big Brother turned to extremes to shock their audiences. Now these programmes are just tasteless and painful to watch. I’ll admit I am a Made In Chelsea fan, but this too is a bit of escapism because their lives are just ridiculous. Their endless supply of money means their problems really are #firstworldproblems and I find it astonishing that I can even find this entertaining. I guess it is entertainment at seeing what frivolous lives they lead and how insignificant their problems are as opposed to those living outside this little bubble – the ones who are struggling to make ends meet.

bbe04077-c253-4929-beb0-ea2402db7715_625x352But going back to Gogglebox, I just love the fact that it uses such a variety of characters and their reactions to the different programmes. The pairs pictured, and the old couple, are my favourites – they are just hilarious! It is so much more interesting than Big Brother or any of those programmes ever was because it uses the guy off the street, not these ridiculous characters to make things more dramatic. I don’t care if some newspapers have reported that some of those involved have TV experience or that some say it is fixed, it probably is to an extent because all of them must know they are being filmed. But the fact remains, they do a great job of reacting as real people do, which keeps it interesting and current.

It does make me wonder what is next for reality TV though. We’ve gone from forcing conflicting characters to live in extremely close quarters while completing humiliating tasks live on TV, to making ‘celebrities’ take on challenges with snakes and bugs in the Australian jungle and we’ve even started filming the posho’s in their daily lives as they bitch and fight over insignificant things. Now we are literally watching people watching television. I just don’t have the imagination to see where this could go next, but I hope it doesn’t get any more graphic, if Geordie Shore is anything to go by.

Made-in-Chelsea-castThe former Literature student in me can’t help but wonder if George Orwell’s 1984 was even more relevant and incredible accurate than we ever could have imagined at the time. Such a fascinating book, and one of my favourites, I can’t help but think back to his references to ‘Big Brother is watching you’ and the technology that he imagines – the types of things we use now with webcams and voice recognition technology. When you start thinking about how our television interests have changed in the last 20 years I have been on this Earth, you can’t help but see a dramatic shift towards the idea of looking in on ourselves. We seem to be moving more and more towards the idea of looking down a microscope at society and picking on various parts. It is fascinating and I’m sure there is so much more psychology and sociology that could help explain it far better than I ever could.

This was more a thought process that started with how much I love Gogglebox and is ending with my curiosity with the way the world is changing around us and how we are constantly pumping out information about ourselves but wishing to remain anonymous. We all want our views to be heard, but we don’t always want to put a face to them, so I think the people on Gogglebox are very brave for going on the show. Someone who is never afraid to talk about his views, and whose ideas might be interesting to you, is Edward Snowden. I’m not sure how I really feel about his ideas, but I remember watching this Alternative Christmas Message a few months ago and feeling a slight chill even then. If you have read 1984, you will find it particularly haunting, if you haven’t – I strongly recommend you do!

Do you love reality TV? Which programmes and why? And what do you think of 1984 compared to today’s society?

4 responses to “Gogglebox, government surveillance and 1984

  1. Hi Lucy,
    Thanks for your thoughts on my Gogglebox article. I must say, I feel as though the show has really picked up in the past couple of weeks, and the boring first ep was merely a phase, fortunately.
    As far as I’m concerned, the only reality show that can be truly compared to Nineteen Eighty Four is, naturally, Big Brother (the early seasons at least). There is something about a 24 hour feed, as well as a lack of involvement from producers etc (this isn’t true of recent series) that felt wholly Orwellian. So, we’re not that close to a totalitarian nightmare. Not while there is still a degree of meddling. Gogglebox is fantastic, but it’s not that voyeuristic because the ‘stars’ are, in a sense, playing up.
    Rob

    • No problem Rob – was an interesting read. I’m glad your opinion has changed of the programme – you’re right, it is definitely getting better with each episode! Oh I completely agree as a direct comparison, I didn’t want to compare Gogglebox in any way to the book, I just meant that as George Orwell pictured, our society is looking further and further in on itself, perhaps a reflection of the way that society was constantly being watched in the novel. Gogglebox just appears to be another branch of this – now we are choosing to watch people watching programmes about people. I read someone’s idea that we could even have another camera set up to watch audiences as they watch Gogglebox because some peoples’ reactions to the programme as so entertaining – where will it end? Ha crazy really when you start looking at it like this. Plus when you look at it all in light of Edward Snowden’s comments on government surveillance – it just seems bizarre. Thanks for your comments x

  2. oliviajaynemurphy

    Thanks for your comment on my Gogglebox blog. I agree with Rob the show has got better, whether this is just because we have got to know most of the people a bit better or they have seen what a success the show is becoming and feel more confident voicing their opinions, I don’t know.

    BUT, *fingers crossed* the ‘Celebrity Gogglebox’ rumours stay just that…

    • No problem Olivia 🙂 Perhaps that is why, I know I have become more attached to certain characters, and I think the producers have cottoned on to which ones because they do seem to make the cameras and the bulk of the show centre on them. In total agreement – as soon as they do Celebrity Gogglebox, the show is dead. The clue is in the name – celebrity will no longer mean people watching tv and reacting naturally in their homes!

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