From: Vincent Campbell (VCampbell@dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Mon 20 Jun 2005 - 10:13:16 GMT
Just wondered if anyone else caught a relatively lengthy discussion of memes
on TV last night?
It was on (the UK's) Channel 4's Big Brother Sunday night show (yes, I watch
it- hey I'm a Media Studies lecturer, for me it's work!).
Anyway, on the Sunday show of the UK version of Big Brother they normally
wheel out some psychologists to talk about micro-gestures, unconscious body
language, or patterns of behaviour (how much people self-groom, hug others
etc. etc.). Last night one of the psychologists (criminally I forget their
name as I type) started talking about memes.
Basically they described memes as units of cultural behaviour, and in the
context of the Big Brother house, this person highlighted how the phrase 'at
the end of the day' had been used by every housemate, and used more than 200
times so far (they've just entered week 4). They showed how one housemate
had used the phrase within an hour of going in the house, and then noted
how, within the closed world of the dozen or so people in the house, this
had become a stock phrase, used to denote a closing/definitive comment.
They contrasted it with idiosyncratic phrases of some of the housemates (one
stereotypical Londonder inthe house uses lots of typical London idioms like
'Fuck About!') that have not become common parlance in the group. Then they highlighted another phrase- a meme for this particular analyst- which was
'dog eat dog', again showing several housemates using the phrase, and, typically for the British version of Big Brother, ending the sequence with an amusing dig at one of the thicker contestants saying 'At the end of the day, it's dog eat dog in here'.
Just as for the micro-gesture and body language specialists, the Big Brother
house is a great laboratory for memeticists is the sense that everything is
captured, so tracing the route of a comment or phrase form its origins
across the group can actually be done very precisely.
It occurs to me that with each year of Big Brother I've watched there have
been stock phrases each group have come up with (I think in the first or
second year, when they were nominating they came up with a little song to
take the tension out of it, and last year one woman's tendency to use the
word 'chicken' as a term of affection ended up being used by a lot of the
So, there you go Reality TV as raw data for memeticists? Food for thought
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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