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Neither playing the game nor keeping it real: media logics and Big Brother

Markham, Tim (2011) Neither playing the game nor keeping it real: media logics and Big Brother. Celebrity Studies 2 (2), pp. 230-232. ISSN 1939-2397.

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Sam Pepper, one of the contestants in Big Brother 11, at one point accused fellow housemates Josie and John James of feigning romantic feelings for each other in order to cash in on lucrative deals with celebrity magazines such as OK! and Hello!. The provocation caused much apparent offence, and led to a prolonged and predominantly rancorous debate about authenticity and inauthenticity, soon extending to revelations that other housemates (Rachel, Corinne) aimed to appear in soft pornography titles like Nuts and Zoo, and as such, ‘couldn’t be trusted’. The clear subtext was that any economic motivation was considered a breach of the rules of the Big Brother game – not the explicit parameters of the competition, but the spirit in which it should be played. Being a worthy winner is a matter of who you are rather than what you do, which raises the question of how we came to know Josie and co, as well as how we come to know celebrity selves generally. If BB has taught us anything about the formation of mediated selves, it is that an authentic mediated self cannot exist – and yet authenticity still matters. This piece reflects on this tension and its implications for our increasingly reflexive media culture.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Celebrity Studies 2(2), pp.230-232 The journal is available online at
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > Film, Media and Cultural Studies
Depositing User: Tim Markham
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2012 15:13
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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