‘Big Brother’: the goofy & caring or intimidating and brooding brother?

Reality TV by Andrew Beeston (CC BY 2.0)


When it comes to celebrity culture in contemporary society, we are all guilty of watching “trashy” reality T.V. programs such as E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians and MTV’s My Super Sweet 16. We are also guilty of following these celebrities as they travel around the world and commit fashion failures by “stalking” them across numerous social media platforms. This celebrity culture that comes with new online surveillance, whether it’s our own tracking through Instagram or Facebook or whether it’s an organisation’s tracking of the websites we click onto, is both constructive and destructive.

The benefits of celebrity in our contemporary society is that ‘celebrity economy has insinuated itself and become part of many other domains and disciplines of life, from the famed in the medical profession, to the way that we read and interpret politicians'(Marshall 2010, p.498). Marshall (2010) depicts the influence of celebrity culture and the impact of surveillance as ‘specular’, underlining the ‘mirror effect of contemporary culture’ (2010, p.499). It is this mirror, a ‘trick mirror’ or a ‘sophisticated two-way mirror’ (2010, p.500) that provides a symbiotic relationship between the celebrity, organisation and consumer. Marshall (2010) explains this mirror that we all use in day-to-day life through our online presence as:

not just for our own personal consumption and they are not just conveyed images as television broadcasting or film exhibitions have produced. An audience does not just receive the images and text. What is built into new media is the exchange and interchange of a networked culture. Friends and followers on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter post responses to images/text and thereby become part of the media ebb and flow of social networks. (2010, p.500)

Kim Kardashian more Benjamin Eyewear by Guise Archives (CC BY 2.0)

Where online surveillance becomes arguably destructive, especially on younger individuals, is when surveillance and celebrity combine to create a false perception of reality. MTV’s original series My Super Sweet 16 ‘documents the lavish rituals of affluent teenagers’ 16th birthday parties and other coming-of-age events’ (Johnson 2010, p.202). My Super Sweet 16 provides a level of ‘expression of the encroachment of celebrity culture into the lives of ‘real’ families’ (2010, p.202), therefore attempting to unite ‘celebrity status and culture through fashion and clothing’ (2010, p.207). By integrating what is perceived to be the values of 16-year-old girls, MTV has helped to develop that image of celebrity by differentiating the famous ‘from “everybody else”‘(2010, p.207). The surveillance therefore of ones own individual style and the products they’re interested in purchasing provides businesses with the power to manipulate what the consumer can see online, thereby falsely portraying a sense of individuality.

Although the temptation to fall into fear and apprehension is decisively more appealing than welcoming surveillance with open arms, we must all find a positive attitude toward this area of our lives that is arguably unavoidable. The ‘vulnerability of those who makes themselves visible’ who are ‘dependent on self-display to maintain the power of self-definition’ (Fawcett 2011, p.954) alludes to the worldwide need for our own ‘mirror of new media’ (Marshall 2010, p.500). Therefore, although we may laugh at the insensibility of reality T.V. shows where life seems much larger and each movement is aired for all to see,  it is undeniable that we all perform these same actions and gestures in our daily activities in public, which were practised previously by mimicking these shows and practising in front of your own mirror at home. There must be a greater respect toward online surveillance as ‘the scary Big Brother quality of surveillance is not how it is perceived as we have with complicity entered into an era where the doors/windows to our personas are perpetually left ajar’ (Marshall 2010, p.502).




FAWCETT, JH 2011, ‘The Overexpressive Celebrity and the Deformed King: Recasting the Spectacle as Subject in Colley Cibber’s Richard III‘, PMLA: Publications Of The Modern Language Association Of America, 126, 4, pp. 950-965, Humanities Source, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 August 2016.

Johnson, R 2010, ‘The discreet charm of the petite celebrity: gender, consumption and celebrity on My Super Sweet 16‘, Celebrity Studies, 1, 2, p. 202, Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 August 2016.

Marshall, P 2010, ‘The Specular Economy‘, Society, 47, 6, pp. 498-502, SPORTDiscus with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 August 2016.


9 thoughts on “‘Big Brother’: the goofy & caring or intimidating and brooding brother?

  1. Hi Caitlin. Firstly, the pictures are well selected and placed to break up the text. The referencing and creative commons links are well done too (you should put a link on Soundcloud for the Kim Kardashian wall art image you used though). Overall, I think the biggest strength is that you’ve provided different perspectives on the topic of celebrity culture and surveillance, and you’re neither totally dystopian nor utopian in your arguments. To improve, you could link us to the article about drones that you discussed. It would also be great to see a more specific title on the Soundcloud part and you could even include some quiet background music in the future, or just edit it in for small breaks like at 1:40. Make sure to proof read as there’s a few small errors throughout, but despite these things, great work with your blog post ☺


  2. I think the main theme of this post appeals to most of the young people and was interesting to read. Of course when it comes to celebrity culture some names or TV shows have to come up as the best reference point so that made it easy to relate. The resources where very helpful to create an understanding of how celebrities have influenced the economy, politics and the social networks. Next time you may consider of delivering the effects of a general perspective rather than just focusing on the dystopian side of the celebrity culture. Great work !!


  3. Hi Caitlin, Amazing blog! I love the topics you have raised and how relevant it is – Kim K!! The podcast was really insightful and added an extra element to your blog. All your hyperlinks works and open in a new tab, your audio was clear and your Harvard referencing was on point. The use of scholarly research made your blog more assertive and your tone of voice accommodated for a serious yet calming tone. This blog was so interesting to read and i look forward to discovering your blog further. Overall this blog entry was amazing Caitlin and i hope you enjoyed writing it as much as i did reading! 🙂


  4. Hi Caitlin, awesome work with this blog! I really like that instead of simply outlining the celebrity culture online, you have taken it further by discussing the impacts of this phenomenon. It is interesting to consider that while the celebrity culture may be empowering for some, to others, namely vulnerable youngsters, it could be incredibly harmful.

    I really enjoy your podcast, you’ve done a great job with all of your media. The only recommendation I have would be to remove (if possible) the duplication of the caption on the Kim Kardashian image. Currently one large caption is sitting in the middle of a paragraph and impacting on your layout/presentation. Other than that, great post and I look forward to more of your blogs!


  5. Hi Caitlin, great work on this blog post – I loved the topic (another self confessed KUWTK fan here) and the layout and aesthetic of your post was extremely eye pleasing. A few suggestions however; and the first is to have another proof read to fix up the few minor grammatical errors throughout. Your podcast was insightful, however, it would be beneficial to give it a relevant title to convince more readers to ‘click play’. My biggest suggestion actually has to do with the academic sources you’ve used. You’ve included a good range however at times I felt as though your post was overpowered by quotes or direct references to your sources. I would have loved to have seen you build more of your own opinion or conclusion from these sources. Overall however, your writing was quite eloquent and this was a standout blog post for me.


  6. Hey Caitlin! Really great job on your post. The media you have used in this post was good for breaking up the text a little bit, but may have preferred more images to support your post and possibly break the slabs of text up even more. It was great content included throughout the post and the media you did us was great in giving some relatability to your content, it helped push your argument further. Your references back to pop culture type celebrities (in Kim Kardashian) made it really easy to read and kept me interested for what you had to say further, because it was easy to understand. Really interesting read so well done!


  7. Hi Caitlin. Great layout of your blog post. Your inclusion of pop culture references and celebrity culture references were very well thought out, and a good way to keep people interested. Similarly to you, I am a self-confessed massive KUWTK and Kimmy K fan (how good are Monday’s), so thank you for including Kim and The Kardashian family references in this post. The inclusion of Sound cloud audio has helped to further enhance your post as you have given your own personal views. A big thumbs up to this!
    I liked your inclusion of scholarly resources, however I would suggest using fewer quotations throughout the post. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, a topic I am very interested in. Well done.


  8. Hi Caitlin,

    Just like to say your blog post flowed wonderfully. The structure was great and the use of images, SoundCloud as well as the reference being bold and present really grabbed my attention and kept me concentrating.

    However one thing I do recognise is the reference area. With none of the papers being italicised. Not a big deal but thought id say something just in case you didn’t know.

    Loved the connection of surveillance and celebrities, very interesting and something I never had actually thought about! I look forward to future blog posts



  9. Hi Caitlin, your post is excellently written. Your contention is strong, spelling and grammar is flawless, and your referencing is effective. As a cynic of celebrity culture, it was nice to be reminded that there are some elements of surveillance and celebrity culture that are constructive to society. In terms of media, your images are effective but perhaps using a few more would better engage the visual learner and make better use of the blogging medium. That said, your podcast is excellently produced, well-spoken, clear and concise, with sobering content that really appealed to me. I think you should keep podcasting! Thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s