BBNaija, values and popular culture
With subsisting poor governance, rising unemployment and violent political culture across the country, Nigerians, especially the youths will find ways to survive in a society that the doors of opportunity have seemingly been closed for some people. In a rat race called Nigeria, many people have migrated to countries in Europe and America in search of the proverbial greener pastures. Every year, a good number of Nigerian medical doctors jet out to practise in the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) and even Canada, thus encouraging the brain drain syndrome.
In the same way, the children of our political office holders and super aides now go abroad for university education, thereby tacitly encouraging the modern day education tourism. In capitalist Nigeria, it is the survival of the fittest, no matter how. In such a climate, the end will always justify the means. While the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. That is why religion, the opium of the masses, according to Karl Marx, has become an industry in Nigeria. Despite our religiosity, we normally come first in all ratings of corruption, crime and whatever. Our rape cases are on the increase.
Kidnapping is another thriving industry created by the uninspiring, inept and warped Nigerian system in which merit is sacrificed while mediocrity is celebrated. In this country of quota system and awkward federal character and unitary federalism, merit is jettisoned and ‘who-you-know’ has been elevated to state policy. In the midst of the confusion, the Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) reality television show has become a pedestal on which hitherto unknown youths have risen to stardom through their participation in the game, which many regard as a talent hunt for those interested in various segments of entertainment such as films, music, advertising, modeling, acting, presenting and others.
To many Nigerian youths, especially those participating in the show and those aspiring to feature in it, Biggie as the Big Brother is called becomes a mentor, a father figure and provider of opportunities which the participants lack or would not have outside the show. Those who think that the show has no positive values are missing the point. Those who think that the show is for dropouts are also not getting it right. Again the biographies of past and even current participants in the entertainment show have proven that the show is not really for dropouts.
Even people who have made modest achievements in life now populate the show’s participants. No doubt, the show is growing from strength to strength with each passing edition and the organizers are making sure that its entertainment component is steadily improving with each edition. Many Nigerians, especially the youths are hooked to the show for so many reasons which one article is not enough to do justice to. In an atmosphere charged with fear, danger and uncertainty, the BBNaija show serves as the needed elixir to the youths. It offers hope in a hopeless situation and gives reason to be for the underdogs of the society, the neglected and the marginalized. It is little wonder the show resonates with the youths. They can relate with the show’s young and dashing host, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu as well as the participants, and the pop culture values of the show. They also see the show as a movie, even though it is a reality television show. They see it as showcasing the African story in its freshness. Our youths and others in Diaspora will relate with BBNaija so much because of its reality and authenticity. It narrates the African story in its raw form without embellishments or make-believe of the movie world.
The youths see BBNaija as a veritable platform to make it in life. By participating in the show, they have become showbiz stars irrespective of the stage they left Biggie’s house. Some of the participants in their mid career see the show as an avenue to enhance their careers and thereby become more visible and popular. The prize money is not necessarily the major attraction to participate in the show. It is a whole lot of experience which only the BBNaija show can provide. That is perhaps why the youths look forward to each edition of the show each year it holds.
It can be recalled that not even the COVID-19 pandemic could prevent holding the Lockdown edition. Moreover, past winners of the show and indeed some of its major participants have become role models and useful members of the society and contributing to its socio-economic development. Participants in the show include people already in security services, music, acting, sports, business, entrepreneurship and others. The show is essentially for entertainment and showbiz and through it talents can be discovered in acting, hosting, presenting, modeling, business and entrepreneurship and others.
Although the show is not essentially academic, it is not lacking in issues of intellect. There are rules and regulations guiding the game to which all housemates must keep. All erring participants had been penalized in the Biggie style. BBNaija is purely an entertainment show for those who are 18 years and above. It is not meant for those below that age. It is an adult programme. Anyone below the stipulated age watching it is violating the control law and the person is doing so at his or her own risk or volition.
The show is not a religious programme where morality is emphasized. Therefore, the call in some religious quarters to ban the show on account of alleged moral failures does not add up. Those making the call cannot convince millions hooked on the show on why the show should be banned. Moreover, banning the show will not stop immorality in the country. Before BBNaija, immoral acts abound in the country. Immorality can be found in many cities across the country and might have even been committed by those who never watched BBNaija.
Immorality is not enough reason to ban the show which has become the delight of many Nigerian youths and even some adults. Who could have known those who have become stars courtesy of BBNaija today without the show? For Nigerian youths denied of opportunities by the dysfunctional Nigerian system, BBNaija has remained a huge pedestal to blossom and become more useful members of the society. Instead of some people questioning the rationale for the fun-filled entertainment show and even suggesting its ban by the federal government, they should please understand the positive aspects of the show and do a rethink.
Beyond the sexual content of the show, the critics should look at the bigger picture, making stars out of the show, making nobody become somebody, a celebrity. Maybe the sexual content can be toned down a bit and Biggie consider allotting some prizes to second and third runners-up in future editions. The current practice of the winner-takes-all of the show makes it look more like the nation’s political race than a game.