Why is the Show Big Brother Called Big Brother?

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Why is the Show Big Brother Called Big Brother?

Why is the Show Big Brother Called Big Brother?

Big Brother is one of the most popular reality TV shows at all time. It’s also one of the first. Even after 20 years on the air, the show still brings in millions of viewers each episode. There’s something about intense competition that people just can’t seem to get enough of. But despite the show’s popularity, there is something about it even some of its biggest fans may not understand: the title. After all, the show doesn’t have anything to do with brothers, or siblings at all for that matter. So why would the show be named after something it has nothing to do with? The answer is actually much more simple than most people realize. Keep reading to find out how the show Big Brother got its name.

The History of Big Brother

Before we get into the origins of the show’s name, let’s get into the history of the show itself. Big Brother debuted in the summer of 2000, and it instantly became a hit. At the time, reality TV was still somewhat of a new concept, and Big Brother was like nothing viewers had ever seen. However, the show didn’t actually originate in the United States. Big Brother began as a Dutch series which debuted in 1997. CBS purchased the show for about $20,000,000 in early 2000. It has become the second longest running adaption of the Dutch show after the Spanish version. Big Brothers differs from other series due to the fact that the HouseGuests have absoloutely no contact with the outside world and the cameras are always filming.

Where The Name Comes From

If you’re over a certain age, you’ve probably already been able to piece together where the name came from. For the young folks out there, we’ve got you covered. The show gets its name from what some may consider an unlikely source: a novel. The show is named for the character Big Brother who appeared in the classic novel, 1984 by George Orwell. Despite the title of the book, it was actually released in 1949 and told the story of a future totalitarian society. In the book, Big Brother is a leader who keeps a watchful eye on everything and everything by putting his citizens under constant surveillance, hence the phrase: Big Brother is always watching. The origins of this character tie in perfectly with the show Big Brother which is also based on a group of people who are constantly being watched. It’s also important to note that the Big Brother in the novel was not an actual person.

Fans of the show may also be familiar with the stuffed owl who is always an additional guest in the Big Brother House. The owl’s name is Orwell as a nod to George Orwell. Orwell the owl has his own Twitter account and has over 35,000 followers. Even though they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, George Owell’s estate didn’t feel that way. In 2000, his estate actually sued the show over the use of the name Big Brother on claims of trademark infringement. The case was ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Where Did Orwell Get The Idea For Big Brother?

George Orwell’s Big Brother is arguably one of the most interesting characters in literature. Outside of a name, he doesn’t have much of an identity, but his menacing presence is always felt. According to Anthony Burgess who wrote the novel 1985, Orwell allegedly got the idea for Big Brother after seeing a billboard for educational courses during WWII featuring a man named J.M. Bennett. The billboard showed an image of J.M. Bennett who was a friendly looking older man. Each ad included the phrase “Let me be your father”. After J.M. Bennet’s death, his son took over the company. He replaced the ads of his father with ads of himself. He changed the phrasing from “Let me be your father” to “Let me be your big brother.”

Big Brother’s Legacy

Fortunately for all of us, the year 1984 didn’t play out the way it was depicted in Orwell’s novel, but Big Brother’s legacy continues to live on. Orwell passed away in 1950, nearly 50 years before the show Big Brother came into existence. When he wrote created the character, he had no way of knowing that it would become a figure in pop culture more than half a century later. While the Big Brother as well know and love isn’t exactly the one George Orwell created, he’d probably get a kick out of seeing what his idea has become.

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