Why Bigg Boss is addictive: We dread public embarrassment but revel in others' humiliation

Sanghamitra Baruah

Oct,18 2016 18:35 22 IST

As Bigg Boss returns to TV screens with its 10th season, the hugely popular reality show is once again set to become a national pastime for the next three months. To be aired though the week, the show will also allow viewers to sign up for 24/7 live feeds on the web. But what is it that makes Bigg Boss so hard to avoid?

Deepika Padukone with Salman Khan at the grand premiere of Colors TV's Bigg Boss 10

Deepika Padukone with Salman Khan at the grand premiere of Colors TV's Bigg Boss 10

When it first started, Bigg Boss gave the nation and its people legitimacy to bully.

Based on the Big Brother format, the controversial show — hosted by an equally infamous celeb (Salman Khan, for the seventh time) — has managed to capture the imagination of all those who now no longer feel the need to hide their desire to pick on others nor feel ashamed to admit it.

Even though celebs like Amitabh Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty and Sanjay Dutt hosted the show in various seasons, the sadistic Indian doesn't seem to love anyone more than Salman Khan and his cockiness. His cheeky one-liners and reprimanding have been very well received by the viewers.

Although most of us dread the pain of public embarrassment, we revel in others' humiliation.

Studies in the past have defined bullying as a tendency to establish supremacy over others, especially someone weaker. They also suggest that bullies usually don't think too highly of themselves and therefore pick on others to feel better. Simply put, they are the predators who prey on the weak.

So what is it about Indians and their love for bullying? Let's admit it, we are inherently vicious and violent. This theory can be easily supported by everyday instances of road rage, sexual harassment, communal unrest etc.

While for generations India has been witnessing extreme examples of gender inequality without much resistance, in times of ongoing "achche din" political repression based on communal grounds is nothing but just another form of bullying. Examples of that can be found all over the web world with fanboys and trolls turning on anyone who dares to disagree.

However, it's not just the sit-at-home moms or the out-of-work sulking lot who follow the reality show to the "T".

In recent years, I have ran into another hardcore bunch of Bigg Boss fans — the office bullies. The on-the-sly dog-eat-dog crowd suddenly chose to come out of the closet and openly endorse and admit to bullying. So from everyday water cooler chats, Bigg Boss and its celebs also entered the work files of office bullies, word for word, act for act.

Although it would be preposterous to blame a single reality show behind the great Indian bully, it's certainly not wrong to say that Bigg Boss gave acerbic India its licence to hate and hound.