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Serbia: Big Brother Mania

Serbian bloggers explore the Big Brother mania by talking about the basic idea behind the puzzlingly super-successful world-wide TV project. Most of them are stunned by the extent of the show's popularity, acquired in such a short period since its kick-off in the country. One of the communal house residents even managed to become the most popular person in the nation by wearing no masks when exposed to the eye of the public. Does watching the “real soap opera” improve your social intelligence? Does it teach you the rules of the new world? Tune in to read if the essence of the trendy series is just about pure entertainment or much more.

At the Inter Cafe discussion board, Majra states:

I know the reality program is just a part of a global study of human psychology conducted by a group of scientists. […]

Srculence:

[…] As the time goes by we get to know more about the contestants, their character, habits and nature. We decry how by following the rules and enduring they are to win a 100.000-euro prize. There are numerous funny and interesting situations along the way. […]

Sinadin belongs to the small minority of those who don’t watch the “big show.” He was introduced to the project when Miroslav Djurisic, who left the Big Brother house, appeared in a serious politics TV program. He says:

[Famous talk show host] Olja Beckovic invited odd-looking bloke who turned out to be a participant in the Big Brother scheme. As soon as the show’s live airing kicked off, he made an impolite remark and discreetly belched. It is a disaster to choose such a guest in a serious daily issues program at the time of a state crisis. […]

Viktor of Belgrade Blog was the first Internet user to report the shocking news:

Friday, around 16h: Miroslav Miki Djuricic decided to leave the “Veliki brat” house after spending 15 days inside and managing to become the most popular person in Serbia in that time. […] He stated that he had to leave and return to his beloved Kupinovo, because of lack of freedom in the house. He wasn't allowed to talk about politics, religion, he broke many rules presented to him because he hates authority and he thought that the people in the house were mostly boring. […] Big respect to Miki for setting his principles above the money and choosing freedom instead of humiliation! (and for finally allowing us to avoid watching Big brother) […]

Mico:

[…] He was number one candidate for win. But as he said, “I don’t need that kind of money because I would fulfill all my dreams and what would be a purpose to live further?”

Djuricic Djura quotes Blic newspaper article, in which popular Miki talks about his life philosophy:

[…] I work as much as I need. I go to the woods, work three days as a horse to sell timber. I take money and do nothing until I spend it. […] A psychologist told me I would need to accept different people. We are all different but I would never socialize with most of those Big Brother house mates. I had to. I would have probably hit on all of the chicks in the case I would ever meet them in real world. […] They were all yelling at me: You will stay to live here in the country, you don’t need anything. My father sold half of the estate. I started selling the other half, fuck it. […] When my friends found out I was chosen to join the Big Brother project, they were all telling me: You are the man! How much you would give us. One friend ordered two thousand euro, the other three thousand. I had a list of people who would get the money in case I win. I would remain exactly 42.000 euro, enough to buy a village house on Fruska Gora mountain. I even found a good location next to the Danube river. It would be great. I would set up fifthly beehive, grow fruits and buy a joyful machine (a device used to produce plum brandy) so I could bake Sljivovica, enjoy river boating and have a good time. […]

At B92 blog, Shkomi states:

People prefer Miroslav [Djurisic] because he is similar to 60 percent of all Serbs. He’s got elementary school education, attempting to survive from day to day. On the other side, he is very wordy and the smartest man in the local pub.

Ivan Marovic compares Miki’s withdrawal from the house to the Kosovo myth [created around the historic battle against the Ottoman Empire, when Serbs made a centuries-long fantasy of moral victory from the defeat]:

He is OK, but what people make of him is what I don’t like. They make him something like idol and moral winner. Now I know how Kosovo myth was born.

Shkomi lays out some of Miki’s anecdotes form the house:

Miki: have you all got high school diplomas? The others: We have. Miki: I have graduated from an elementary school and I would not change with you.

Nikola: All Serbs are weak to women. [Miki]: They are weak to the crazy people too.

Other BB house inhabitants: If you get out of the house, leave us your cigars. Miki: I don’t think I would do that so you could appreciate me more.

Jelena: When you get out of the house you should definitely study psychology. Miki: I would need to buy a high school diploma first.

Kalvados cites what Miki said during the show’s filming about some celebrities:

About Svetlana Raznatovic aka Ceca: It is ok to discuss Ceca’s music but talking about her personality is obsolete. Who is she!? Some say she is the first lady, but I couldn’t dare to agree. She was married to that criminal and we know what she has done.

About Serbian celebrity shrink, Jovan Maric: He hasn’t got an idea about psychology. The only person behaving more idiotically is his wife [also a shrink].

About Rickey Martin: If you bring him here, I think I would drown him in a swimming pool together with Vuk Roksandic [a local musician].

About Branko Kockica [author of a popular TV program for children]: Branko, you lied to us when we were kids (allusion to a song called “There is a kingdom of friendship in the world”).

About [Goran] Bregovic: [Emir] Kusturica portrayed him best. He is a type of a man who would steal your wallet and then buy you a dinner. […]

Ohbabyw is too bitter that Serbian intellectual elite is missing:

[…] I am wondering all the time if there are twelve smarter people in Serbia [that those participating in the show]. […] Well, those clever individuals didn’t show up at the Big Brother audition because they don’t want to take part in the program. They don’t want to be part of anything in this country as the matter of fact. They withdrew to the mice holes to keep quiet about everything, especially the issues one shouldn’t be silent about. Why don’t producers of B92 television show when Miki says he hates Ceca. […] On the other hand, they gladly broadcast scenes of drunk female participants singing Ceca’s songs. […] The problem is we let the life develop in front of our eyes. We are spectators without the spirit of rebellion and without attitude. And we judge everybody with an attitude. Serbia is [thirsty] for attitude.

In his B92 blog, Ivan Marovic, former Otpor leader, tries to unveil the secret of reality shows success as he himself works in a similar gaming industry abroad:

[…] Reality shows are similar to sports – there are firm rules, but no script. Nobody knows how it will end up. You may compare it to video games. Steven [Johnson] says reality programming proves video games dominate popular culture. At the beginning, form of TV dramas was taken from the theatre. In the age of Nintendo, the audience requires a new form – the competition present within the series of tasks you need to accomplish when playing a video game. Contestants learn rules during the play in a reality show contrary to sport competitions in which the regulations stay the same. Discovering the rules [and loopholes] is part of the drama. […] The most important skill is social intelligence. While watching Big Brother, our mind follows pattern of emotions expressed by other people. Therefore we can notice suptile change in behavior. We are in constant doubt and suspense. […] My thesis is that we develop the so-called intelligence of a nanosecond, able to notice almost unnoticeable facial expression revealing real thoughts before that person manages to hide it. Thus, as we develop social intelligence by watching the show, Big Brother makes us smarter.

Geronimo:

[…] When I watch Survivor, there is always one question on my mind. What would happen if producer would hand them machetes and an instruction telling that the one who turns alive next morning would be rewarded with a prize of one million dollars. Would any of the participants decide to quit and go home? Then I stop wondering and ask myself how those events in the 90’s occurred to us in the Balkans.

U borbi protiv:

[…] To put a gay and a homophobe in a same room does not mean producing authentic emotions but provoking a conflict to entertain crowds, split opinions, affect cheering atmosphere and ultimately raise the show’s popularity. How pathetic and eventless a life of a person must be to seek real emotions by watching a pack of people who agreed to sell their “real emotions.” […]

Dusan Vujovic:

[…] Participants are aware of all the cameras, thus they don’t behave as usual at the house. When it comes to social intelligence, it is not about individual but about all the interactions within a group. And how everyone flows with the others. […] We learn as well. […]

Geronimo:

We have to be taught again about adroitness and other survival skills in the era of capitalism. […] The new time has come. As I understood it, the author vows we have to learn how to swim. He doesn’t ask us if we like it or not. The one who refuses to start learning would drown. [Biggie] is just a textbook example of the new rules.

Ivan Marovic:

[…] For survival in a [poor surrounding] it is more essential to find out gossips about you than to solve mathematical brain tickles. I wish to present an original opinion. The task is difficult. Especially, in a society with mostly black-and-white views.

Wikler:

[…] I don’t see Big Brother has something to do with social intelligence as it has with human isolation. People want some kind of entertainment so the whole day would pass. They got to have a convenient topic for workplace chat. […] A memory crosses my mind. Once I talked to a yacht captain. I asked him how dangerous it was to sail the Adriatic sea […]. He responded that relations between crew members were the most hazardous factor because in just ten days of sail the darkest of human attributes would come to surface. […]

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