'Inhumane' Big Brother won't budge on dead father

A decision by the makers of Big Brother to not tell a contestant her father has died has been condemned as inhumane, unethical and psychologically damaging.

Contestant Emma's father Raymond Cornell died last week and his funeral was held on Monday in Adelaide, but the 24-year-old is still unaware of his death.

Will they break the news to her on air, for ratings?" World Vision chief Tim Costello said. "This is patent ethical irresponsibility . . . she's only got one father and she'll suffer guilt and possibly resentment for the rest of her life."

Producers of Big Brother have refused to move from their position, stating that "it was the wish of the family" that Mr Cornell's death be kept from Emma.
But ethicists say such a decision cannot be made for Emma, regardless of what her family or even her father wanted.

"Parents often want to protect children, but she's an adult and she can make up her own mind," media commentator and academic Eva Cox said. "She has to be told."

Rev Costello and Ms Cox called for the establishment of constraints on reality shows like Big Brother.

"Shows like this encourage the most prurient side of our natures," Ms Cox said "This is a serious question, and here we've crossed the line."

"It really is getting too much like the 'real' Big Brother," Rev Costello said. "The boundaries keep getting pushed back and we don't notice — like the frog in a pot of slowly heating water."

The fact that Emma had been estranged until recently from her father, who was sick with cancer before his daughter entered the Gold Coast Big Brother house, only made her ignorance more damaging.

"The funeral is the only rite of passage we have," Rev Costello said. "I don't think we can contract to do away with things like this."

Big Brother producers refused to comment in detail on the criticisms.
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