14 October 2003

Colombians want real life to mimic reality TV

But ordinary Colombians see something deeper. Hector Gonzalez, a taxi driver in Bogot� who watches 'Gran Hermano,' is impressed by the way the contestants evolve.

'The people learn how to live together,' Mr. Gonzalez says. 'They have to learn how to pardon.' As a society, he adds, 'I think that we are very lacking in learning how to pardon.'

In Colombia, regionalism is rampant, fostered by distrust of the central government. This has led to homegrown solutions to problems of public order that have only given rise to more violence, such as the creation of self-defense groups in the northwest province of Antioquia that later became paramilitaries.

According to Maritza Sandoval, a Bogot� psychologist who has closely followed 'los realities,' as they are known here, fighting with words is a novel concept in a society where disagreements are often resolved with weapons.

'It is very censured to confront somebody [verbally],' Ms. Sandoval explains. 'In Colombia, it doesn't happen,' describing society as 'very authoritarian,' leaving people 'afraid to express their feelings.'

The show's Internet message boards reveal Colombians increasingly rewarding those contestants who get along. In addition to Andrea getting ousted, Lu�s, the farmer, earned the ire of the female audience for his machismo, and was sent packing. Meanwhile, viewers praise Ram�n, a musician who owns a craft shop.

'You live in peace and tranquility, and for this you will be the [winner of] Big Brother,' writes 'Camila'.

While I'm blogging about life imitating fandom...

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