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Big Brother Naija 2020: gatherings is not a death sentence

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With the recent announcement by Multichoice, of the fifth season of Big Brother Naija (BBN) premiering this July, it is another opportunity for critics of the show to wear their toga of opprobrium. This time, their argument will assume a more arrogant posture over what, in their estimation, is a narcissist disposition of the organisers in the face of a world-ravaging pandemic. In a short while, these self-acclaimed pundits on how not to run a show will fill the social media space with beer parlour tutorials.

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It is obvious to discerning minds that after COVID-19, the world will never remain the same. And I tell you; one of the things that will make way for people and businesses will be creativity. And as the world finds its path back to business – new rules of engagement will outsmart the odds, creativity and technology will blaze the trail, and gathering will no longer be a death sentence – this trend, my brother, is the new normal.

Need I say that Multichoice, organisers of BBN, is a continental company, run by think tanks, and I don’t see how the sentiments of some Facebook junkies count here.

With the cancellation of major sporting events, soap operas, dramas and shows with live audiences; the race is on for new television shows which can be made in accordance with social-distancing rules. Reality television is noted to be less challenging to operate at a distance once the cameras are in place. This is, in addition to the fact that, it can be delivered by a virtual host.

People are entitled to the kind of entertainment they choose, but as a fan, I have maintained that Big Brother is not an adventure reality show, but a lifestyle genre. It has its peculiar shtick, which, I believe, is a mental health game – relating to human’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is all about how we think, feel, act — how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Big Brother format is not exclusively a game of physical strength, but of endurance, tolerance, diplomacy, alliances, team spirit, creativity, and love – everything within the mental space.

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Organisers of BBN are part of our society. As a company under the law, they are socially responsible to the society in more ways than us, the individuals. Why would anyone think that they are not sensitive to the health of members of the same society? That said, it would be rhetorical to ask why they will allow a physical gathering (if they choose), knowing that confirmed Covid-19-negative people can cohabit; as long as none among them is exposed to a stranger during the period. And to think that virtual engagements can also be an effective fusion for auditions, crew members, and guests on the show, we can only give the organisers benefit of the doubt without belaboring the safety rules regarding COVID-19.

Here’s a tip on how Big Brother Brazil rounded off at the wake of the pandemic: about six contestants were still in the house when the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed. As usual, they had no contact with the outside world because phones, media and any contact with the outside world was forbidden, while new contestants entering the house were banned from talking about the virus. The show had continued without a live studio audience, and with increased hygiene measures and constant monitoring of the contestants by a medical team, up until the finale on April 27, four days later than originally planned.

Methinks that if a show that was not in any way prepared for the pandemic, in one of the most hit countries, could see it to a logical end, I do not see the big deal in hosting the Nigerian version this year. Lastly, to borrow the words of Big Brother Brazil’s general director Rodrigo Dourado, “In the face of the current world reality, ‘being confined together’ has (only) gained a new meaning.”

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