Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Blues Brother

After missing a turn on the board game of reality TV, Celebrity Big Brother is back - cue old fashioned horror film shock music "DA DA DAAAAAAH". Probably only because it's the only component of the tired franchise that people can be half bothered tuning into these days did the producers have the nerve to re-introduce it to an audience still recovering from the backlash of 2007's infamous "race row"/witch hunt/backlash. But there we are...and where to start?
Although I'm loathe to admit it, this year I am actually watching the show on a worryingly frequent basis. Not quite every night, but almost. Had I not made the somewhat overambitious resolution to lay off the nasties for a month, this might have been a different blog entry. As it is, I've had ample time to faux casually browse the channels once Masterchef has finished...and what do you know? Celebrity Big Brother is ALWAYS on.

CBB has always had a different appeal to its civilian sister. Our society's growing obsession with fame was always going to prefer the voyeuristic allure of a show designed to expose people we've already got an opinion on. To dismantle the ego and pretension of the contestants is what people want to see. This does happen to a certain extent.

Big Brother (in all its guises) has lost sight of its original manifesto, which was to observe the actions of normal human beings in a totalitarian environment. Not much comment is made on the behavioural trends that the show provokes in groups of people and this is the aspect that most fascinates me.

When Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd ganged up against Shilpa Shetty, the first thing that struck me was that it was unlike any altercation that ever occurs amongst the male participants. There's something about women's behaviour in an isolated group environment that shunts them back eons - or into the animal kingdom.

This year, we are faced with the same behaviour. Ulrika Johnsson - who 50% of Daily Mail readers claim they wouldn't trust to left alone with their husband (and the rest) - has found an unlikely sidekick in Tina Malone, who apparently has been in Brookside and Shameless. Its fascinating to watch the hierarchy of women develop in the house...and there always is one.

My take on this follows. I have named the tiers after the groups of women in my favourite book, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. If you substitute the commodities in the book (ability to bear children) for the one on offer in Big Brother (fame and glamour) these types seem to transfer quite well...she knows what she's doing, does Atwood!


La Toya Jackson - 52 year old pop royalty...therefore untouchable. Is also incredibly sweet- natured. Likes observing.


Ulrika Jonsson - presenter of TV. States that she is most famous for either a) shagging Sven or b) having 4 children by the same number of fathers. Lovely.

Tina Malone - apparently an actress, with OCD, but as far as I can tell the only thing she's obsessed about is talking about herself. I challenge anyone to show me a person with OCD who bites their own toenails off on national telly.


Mutya Buena - ex-Sugababe. Much quieter than expected. Early twenties.

Lucy Pinder - Right wing Page 3 girl with the most famous natural baps in the country...according to the daily star. Didn't cause too much of a stir. Twenties.

Michelle Heaton - ex-Liberty X pop singer. Mid twenties. Nicknamed by the press of late as "Cheatin' Heaton" due to reported indiscretions during her marriage, which was sold to OK and documented on ITV2. Emotional and intimidated. First to cry.

Like in the book (if you haven't read it, do so immediately) females tend to turn against each other in situations of pressure, as opposed to turning against the situation itself or the individual or body that put them there. That's a common reaction in any inferior group, be that in the racial, physical or sexual sense.

When Shilpa Shetty was victimised by Jade Goody and the gang, jealousy was a word bandied around as possible motive. Almost correct I think. More accurate a word is probably "competition". The line between cost and reward when appearing in a show like this is a thin one to tread, and for these individuals it is a case of "survival" - its the closest they'll ever get to defending their cubs from a predator anyway.

And the show encourages this behaviour. You may think the tasks set for housemates are unoriginal - but they fit a very clever prototype. They all involve splitting the larger group into packs of two or more, and one is always disadvantaged in some way. If the original idea was for there to be one autonomous being - that being Big Brother - and the rest an indistinguishable group of "proles", these sorts of tasks are the polar opposite of what the programme should be all about.
However, left to their own devices the group will almost always split anyway and the people who display this the most will always be women. Privileged by fame or not, the idea that women are more socially disadvantaged is still a prevalent one and whether the women in question realise it or not their behaviour will always reveal it.


An (ex) alien in new york said...

If you allow me to generalise hugely here...

I'm not so sure about the condoms issue. I would say what is more telling about the abortion rate- many more of the girls I know (Being encased in a private, all girls boarding school, this would be a wealthy, very career motivated tribe) are much more likely to pay for an abortion, as they have really high career ambitions (and can afford it, if that is the issue), and they feel their parents would not take care/respnsibility for such a child, having spent thousands of pounds to nurture their own aspirations. The morning after pill etc. is taken without much (apparent) ethical self-questioning. These girls are in a high pressure environment in which this is more normal. If I were to fall pregnant, it would be considered in a similar manner to had I been found with a pound of cocaine, (ignoring questions of legality). This is not to say that my friends/parents *Would* be neglectful of any potential grandchildren. Indeed, based on one half's beliefs, I would probably be encouraged to keep the child (perhaps for adoption. I don't really know what their reactions would be). But I do know that there would be dissapointment. And I do know that the driving motivation behind many of these girls is atempts to prove their worth to their parents.

I would say that others, less financially able or whatever you wish to call them, have a different family background. My parents got married fairly young; my mother was 20, but they were both university educated, my mother had a career, and they did not have children till later on. Often, in households where the parents have not had a high profile career/higher/further education, it will be more likely that the (grand)parents had this generation at a younger age. Perhaps this affects their perceptions/perceptions of what their reactions will be (i.e. if my mother had had me at 17, I would feel in a better position to talk to er about my own (non existent) pregnancy. Perhaps it is that teenagers from this background feel more able to rely on their parents, or feel less pressure to give up the child for the sake of furthering their education and career. Obviously they have severe social pressures, etc. And their parents can have an identical reaction to mine. But I think that, within their peers, it is more of an accepted choice- that of keeping the baby. I would certainly, i feel, receive pressure to give up the baby from my friends. It's a question of reaction to the reactions of the people around you.

It could also be that children from weaalthier backgrounds are more likely to be in schools that offer after school activities/ boarding/ single sex education etc. and also that they can afford too invest their time in other time consuming, expensive activities, so their is less opportunity to 'socialise', as it were.

Obviously this is a blogger comment and so is pretty stream of conciousness. AAnd it's full of generalizations and past conversations. And the only bit I can really spak for isw my own background, on why wealthier girls are less likely to have babies (you'd be suprised just how much it comes up, it's just dealt with in more secrecy, I suppose)

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Anonymous said...

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kamagra said...

I think that I would be good with a Handmaid like Lucy. She is gorgeous. You don't to ask for anything else.