The Almog building company’s marketing man shows a video clip of two apartments, one of which will be chosen by the winner of the “Big Brother” reality program at some time in the near future. (The winner, announced on the Channel 2 show broadcast Wednesday, is a 23-year-old woman, Shay Mika Ifrah, who grew up in the Golan Heights town of Katzrin.) One is a three-room home in Modi’in, the new city between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; the other a four-room residence in Be’er Ya’akov, near Rishon Letzion. The housing project where the first apartment is located is described as being intimate and surrounded by open spaces; the project in which the other is situated, we are told, is luxurious, with all the trappings of prestige.
In practice, both apartments are in standard, nondescript buildings that apparently need savvy advertising people to coat them with a patina of appeal. Furthermore, they are in average suburbs, places where the guiding hand of Big Brother – in the form of the government of Israel – determines the residents’ agenda. Or, put less politely, they are boring neighborhoods whose residents get stuck in traffic jams on the way to their 9-to-5 jobs and plunk themselves down in front of the TV when they get home. Leisure-time activities are few and far between.
In fact, the place where “Big Brother” is filmed is an upgraded incarnation of the same type of Israeli neighborhood. It too is a glittering cage adorned with flashy wallpaper, neon lights, colorful sofas, gilded bathroom accessories and romantic-style kitchen cupboards. In short, a collection of disparate elements without culture or a coherent architectural style. Instead of an intelligent design suited to the occupants’ needs, there’s a mishmash of all the colors of the rainbow, a concoction that acts as a backdrop for those who pull the program’s strings.
Thus the glamour that envelops “Big Brother,” which supposedly offers a direct track to celebrity status, evokes the glamour that the folks marketing the pseudo-prestigious homes in Modi’in and Be’er Ya’akov are trying to sell.
The residents of such suburban locales, just like the participants of “Big Brother,” are part of a game that’s even bigger than they realize (even if they sometimes enjoy it). They ignore the fact that, in the case of the TV series itself, they are but marionettes on a set being managed by a media company and entrepreneurs, and, in the case of the suburbs, by entrepreneurs and by the state, which dictates how they will live.
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