While we are in a confessional mood, I have to say that I used to watch the ordinary Big Brother as well, although I haven’t tuned into that for about six years. Primarily because they started putting too many mad people in there until it became a freak show. There was something distinctly discomforting about laughing at people who, frankly, needed professional help. Celebrity Big Brother then is my replacement fix, a little bit like Methadone. It provides all of the pleasure without any of the guilt.
The reason why it’s guilt free is twofold. Firstly, all of the people involved are media savvy and being paid a lot of money to take part. Secondly, they don’t have that soft underbelly that the regular freaks looking for their fifteen minutes of fame have. Therefore, you are not left with that ugly feeling of kicking a kitten.
As a regular viewer, I don’t think I’ve missed a series since it started, I have seen the show evolve over the years. When it first started, the calibre of celebrity tended to be high, because the million pound prize money went to charity. However, somewhere along the way the charity bit was replaced by a personal fee for the ‘stars’ and we were left with wall to wall Z list wannabes. Strangely though, this fact diminished none of the pleasure for me and anyway, over the past couple of years, there has been another evolvement. The recession and the fact that lots of famous people have hit the skids financially mean that you often get some surprises.
Last year, for instance, we had Hollywood actor, Michael Madsen. He was cast into a world, where he seemed so much like a fish out of water, that in itself would have kept me glued for weeks. Add into the mix all the young wannabe starlets and middle aged desperados, hanging onto their fame at any cost, not to mention the borderline insane eccentrics and you have a recipe that just delivers every time.
The winning formula is that for three weeks the house provides a microcosm of our society and, watching it being played out nightly in our front rooms, is both enlightening and hilarious. It is quite irrelevant who is in there, the outcome is the same. We end up with the different strata of society and, once the initial game faces have been stripped away, it’s better than anything Orwell could have dreamed up.
Take this year; we have the usual topless models and internet porn stars, who are put in there as the lowest level of ‘celebrity’. There are three of them and they are already jockeying for position, each trying to establish a pecking order by bringing out a skewed sense of morality. The kiss and tell girl, who has slept her way into infamy for example, considers herself a cut above the girl who doles out sexual favours on the internet. These girls are a representation of a society where fame, at any cost, is the golden ticket. It doesn’t seem to matter to these girls that they have no discernable skill or talent but have gained notoriety through their sexual antics. Sadly, as I meet more and more young people whose only goal in life is to be ‘famous’, in much the same way that we might once have wanted to be a hairdresser or a doctor, these girls are probably more relevant than we can
Circling around these girls are their male counterparts. Young men whose only achievement is that they have a six pack and spend all of their spare time on a sun bed. Their pecking order is determined by who can get the girls and they are like strutting peacocks as they flex, preen and show off. They are quite possibly even more vacuous than the girls, struggling with the concept of basic vocabulary and stringing a sentence together. None of that seems to matter though just so long as they do their sit ups and parade their impressive abs. Again, it’s a mere reflection of a society where we elevate thuggish louts, who can kick a football but most people would struggle to name a poet.
Even more interesting, for me, is the next layer up. The fading beauties, who are clinging to their status like grim death. They start off either looking down on the younger women or taking them under their wing in a show of faux maternalism. It usually takes less than a week, however, for all pretences to be gone and for these women to reveal their true natures. Vipers who will stop at nothing to have their worth consolidated by public approval. As the stakes become higher, their behaviour becomes more and more extreme, as they try to compete with young women in their sexual prime. I think quite possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life, was last year’s show when a fifty plus old has been pushed her bare breasts in an unsuspecting Michael Madsen’s face. Despite all of his tough guy roles and reputation, the poor man was rendered almost insane with horror.
That’s another great feature, when they throw in a couple of genuine big names, who begin their stint thinking they will be top dog and that the others will bow down to them. Indeed it does usually start off that way, until the intensity of the experiment strips away all normal codes of behaviour, and the pampered star is left floundering and adrift. The pecking order by the end of week three will bear no relation to how it starts off and will have no rational logic. It truly is dog eat dog.
I love humankind, particular all the foolishness and folly. Big Brother provides the perfect environment for human nature to emerge in its starkest form. Throw into the mix, excessive amounts of alcohol and games designed to disorientate and humiliate and what more could you want? Alright, it is a bit cruel and there is always the odd mental meltdown but, save your tears. They will have already cashed the cheque and don’t forget those lucrative deals with the tabloids and trashy magazines. They sold their souls to the devil and we get to watch him claim his due.