“Mature” content on “Big Brother Australia”


In a desperate attempt to save itself from eviction, Big Brother Australia has been leading up to this year’s show as something new. This week revealed exactly what’s up. But first, can I just take a minute to bemoan the passing of Gretel Killeen as host?

I miss ya, Gretel. As hosts of reality TV shows go, you were about the only one I could stomach. Sometimes your flirtation with the house boys made me queasy, but Kyle’s ogling of a certain busty female housemate last night nearly brought up the chuck. But ratings drop, and so it’s out with the too "mature" and in with the young and new.

Except. This year, Big Brother picked a handful of the normal firm-bodied 20-somethings, but also assembled a wacky lot including a UFO nut complete with Roswell tattoos and — hold on to your seats for this one — a grandmother. I know, crazy.

Grandmother Terri was the first contestant in the house, and host Kyle made all the predictable jokes about granny at tea time. I was hoping she’d be around for awhile; it would have been fun to see her throw down with some of the vapid youngsters in the house. Sadly, but not shockingly, she was voted out by her fellow housemates in the first eviction.

Aging, women, media. Conventional wisdom tells us that these words don’t belong in youth-obsessed media-driven cultures. It’s been interesting to watch this play out in the U.S. elections this year. Take Rush Limbaugh’s offering last December in his ongoing "why American doesn’t want Hillary for president" rant. He asked, "Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?"

The answer last night, like the answer often offered in movies and TV, seems to be: Keep older women off the screen. Even in a fictional story based around an aging heroine like, say, Fried Green Tomatoes, she spends most of her time in the past.

Just like Titanic or Edward Scissorhands or many other films with an elderly woman recalling her youth. I can think of a few exception, but they all have their own peculiarities. Say, Harold and Maude.

The easy criticism of this one is that it puts an expiration date on a human lifespan. But the movie’s invested in blowing open all of those stereotypes about aging women, and it deals with sexuality in older women, which usually shows up as the joke, not the plot. As the joke was on Terri in the Big Brother house.

The marketing ploy was a winner for me to begin with, but I’m relieved to see Terri go before it got any worse than jokes about tea. Anybody else watching BB Australia this year? Think the show can rescue itself with this new crew?

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