Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Don't tell anyone I've been watching Big Brother

Big Brother is proving uncomfortable viewing this year. While the producers’ idea of bringing a houseful of single people together is paying off – the cuddle count is running pretty high – the house dynamics are prickly to watch.

In work, very few people freely admit to watching BB, but as soon as the discussion starts, everyone knowledgably chips in! In previous years, as the series nears the final week, everyone becomes more willing to share in those water-cooler moments.

This year, Channel 4 have received some criticism for allowing someone with Tourette’s syndrome into the house. Rather than looking explpoited, Pete seems to be coping quite well. Either that, or the editing is intentionally sympathetic to build up audience empathy. In many ways, Pete is one of the more balanced characters – attempting to deal with ever present conflict, and providing insightful analysis of the house when he’s in the diary room.

There are few in the group who can be proud of the way they have treated Shahbaz. Winding up someone who is already obviously stressed isn’t one of the affirming human traits that viewers will be attracted to. Shahbaz was undoubtedly irritating, with an in-your-face persona, he could try the patience of a saint, and he made his situation much worse than it needed to be.

Yet he was vulnerable, unstable, trapped in continual conflict, and picked on. In a playground we’d call it bullying.
  • locking Shahbaz out of the house
  • taunting him
  • getting his name wrong - Shabang, Shiraz
  • continually discussing ways of annoying him
  • as a group walking out of the room when he came through the door
Like terrorising Piggy in Goldings’ Lord of the Flies, the group mentality prevailed, squashing the odd person who tried to get alongside Shahbaz and calm his tension.

In the end, the voice of Big Brother mellowed and befriended Shahbaz as he trembled in the Diary Room for one last time. Affirming that he had been a great housemate, there was (an obvious show of) dignity.

On the outside, Shahbaz has since commented:

“I was the dynamic in the House and no one could really deal with me," he started. "I almost spontaneously combusted. It was my dream situation - a House full of cameras, milling around playing the big momma. But what the housemates didn't know when I walked in with that luggage, was that I also walked in with a lot of emotional baggage.”
And in breaking news tonight, Dawn has announced that she wants to leave. Only it looks like BB is playing the usual game of “needing time to organise your departure, can you sleep on it and come back in the morning” which may give the remaining housemates time to sway her opinion.


Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

And Dawn left - or rather was thrown out.

For completeness, the C4 BB news article explains "Dawn has been removed for breaking rules and will not be returning ... Dawn had devised a plan with her family and friends: if there was any bad press about Dawn, she would receive a cunning 'your sister is ill' message.

The secret message was delivered to Dawn yesterday, but of course Big Brother sussed her out."

And so the pantomime continues - though I'll not bore you with it too often in the blog.

Anonymous said...

Your analysis of the Shabazz situation and how he was bullied by the group is spot on.

Yes, it's just like that, feel guilty about watching it, don't feel comfortable, and yet it's fascinating. Although I think they really need to replace Dawn and Shabazz with similar characters, otherwise it will be boring watching the little Ceasar, doing his impression of a male Michelle Bass, velcroed to the most alluring member of the opposite sex!!