of the end of my summer was that I watched a lot of Big Brother. It was fascinating – a complete and utter failure in a dozen or more ways. Bill Wyman wrote a good wrap-up, Reality flops, in Salon. But the reasons for the show’s failure might be more basic than that. Go back to Alexis de Tocqueville – he called it. There has always been a tension in North America between the lip service paid to individualism and the dictates of the group. Big Brother just served as evidence that this tension continues to exist. It was all about punishing anyone who stepped out of line, who distinguished her- or himself in any way. It was like the houseguests were in a trench – as soon as one of their heads popped up, wham, it was lopped off by the North American public. Truly pathetic.