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July 04, 2006


Jennifer C

I find it strange that people would sign up for a show called Big Brother. Would they also sign up for a show called 100 days of Sodom? I guess it helps not to be literary minded. I find it strenjshay. Truly. Must be some sort of explanation. Must.


I've only just (possibly naively) realised that the participants on the program don't use their real names. Which is kind of interesting, when you're thinking about issues of gender performance. And I think that the BB 'incident' is a performance of masuclinity...


I doubt any of the participants are especially literary-minded, Jennifer. I'm thinking of starting my own reality TV show called 'Slaughterhouse 5'.

Dogpossum, yes, a good point about the performance.

Are all the names assumed tho? Lefty Tim last year appeared under his name, and I know someone who knows someone in this series who appears to be on the show under her real name...


Dogpossum has a fantastic post about BB up on her blog.

There were three boys with the first name of Michael in the house, I imagine that creates problems for voting and so on - they change names on Australian Idol too.


Thanks Laura it is a fantastic post and where has Dogpossum been all my life?


...editing chapters, most likely.

You girls are tres sweet.

I wish the BB discussion boards were still up - I want to see what the punters are saying (punters as in people who watch the program more frequently than I do).


I think Mel puts it well (boom-tish! ... er ...) but I do wonder about some of the language surrounding the whole incident. 'Inappropriate activity'? I tend to think of it in more straightforward terms; two scumbag guys held Camilla down on the bed and one of them smacked her in the face with their d*k, in an obvious attempt at humiliating her. The fact that Camilla was a bit of a dill herself doesn't justify what the guys did; it was their fault, not hers.

Also interesting is the way bloggers (eg, Armaniac) have of referring to Big Brother as an actual person - which I think is also taking the concept of the show too far.

Castironbalcony Helen argued that Channel Ten probably wouldn't axe the show as a result - that they loved the publicity they were getting. I think that depends primarily on who the Channel Ten producers are, and the extent to which they are prepared to 'self-regulate', as John Howard has put it; and to a lesser extent on the choices of the advertisers (such as GlaxoSmithKlein, who apparently want to withdraw advertising) - as well, of course, as the choices of other audience members. Reading a full transcript of the incident - like Mel provides - helps me understand the context of the show, but I still think it should be axed. Quite simply, it's wrong for any television show to rely on disgusting activities like this for ratings; I think both Channel Ten and Australia, at large, deserve more than this sort of degrading voyeurism.

There! Just felt I should get that off my chest! Hope you don't mind too much!


I'm also glad to come here for some of Kate's usual excellent commentary and find a bonus dogpossum. Woot!

Another hand up for finding the most disturbing aspect of this incident to be that so many people accept that humiliating women sexually for a "joke" is normal, non-surprising behaviour.

Mark Bahnisch

Kate and dogpossum - some of the housemates use their real first names and some don't. Camilla's is Camilla, for instance.


What I couldn't believe is that so many people seem to be defending the fact that two men were involved in holding down a woman so that a penis could be slapped on her mouth and face. Even Kyle and Jackie O were defending the act as a joke and a bit of harmless fun. It sounds more like sexual assault to me.

With Jackie O so often being a self proclaimed representative on womens issues, her reaction STANK to me of rank hypocrisy.

Anyhow, on that note:

URL deleted by the administrator.
(warning, adult content)


Uh yeah.

And I think you are right to pick up on consent as the really interesting issue here. The reality is that of course people can't consent fully - it's the nature of human experiences (especially extreme experiences) that they are not 'knowable' in advance.

So the pertinent question seems to be not how do the producers/makers of shows inform contestants sufficiently, but what is their responsibility to create an environment in which people are exposed to and placed in situations they cannot control. While no advocate of censorship (no indeedy) it seems to me kind of inevitable that if you create BB you will create a world in which stuff like this happens. Each subsequent season will enhance the effect as expectations and extremes are increased to ensure new and more thrilling episodes for the audience.

The show's makers get away with taking no responsibility because they aren't 'making' anyone do 'anything' - but they do create a world in which the normal rules of social engagement are suspended and a moral ambiguity is allowed. In so doing they simply choose what incidents to react to, rather than actively preventing unnacceptable behaviour. Cynically I would say they actually take no issue except where forced to by ratings or ragulation. Would they, could they, actually prevent an incident from occuring? Would they know in advance what would make the ratings soar as opposed to what would have them kicked off the air? Is not the premise of the show to see what happens to people when you isolate them from normalising forces? Don't audiences tune in to vicariously experience a different kind of life and thus aren't they as yet unsure about what goes on and what doesn't, what's allowed and what isn't?


The issue of consent *is* an interesting one.

I'm not sure why, but I hadn't thought about the difference between consenting to be on the show and having no choice but to consent to everything proposed by BB while in the house, lest you be deprived of privileges, food (vegetables in particular) and prize money, or threatened with removal for non-compliance.

You've given me something to think about.


Galaxy, it echoes the idea of "consensual non consent" which emerged in the BDSM community a while ago (Lordy, don't get me started on that) and the "asking for it" kind of arguments used to justify interpreting the ordinary actions of women - ie their clothes or job - as explicit or coded consent to sexual behaviour.


Consensual non-consent eh? I wonder if the BB contestants have a safe word they can use if things get leery.

Galaxy, there's an interesting bit of scholarship on this I've got lying around and I'm going to try and get the time to summarise some of it.

TimT, please feel free to rant as you like. I don't know if I completely agree with you that taking it off the air is what is needed. The show seems to be becoming more and more voyueristic as time goes on, but perhaps that's just me projecting my aging old fartness onto it.

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