Sunday, August 31, 2014

BB16: Red Flags

Big Brother is touted as a televised "social experiment", as a "game" and as "entertainment". The bi-polar and contradictory nature of the U.S. version of this show, combined with an unethical selection of "subjects", the disregard for psych evaluations or psych evaluations performed by incompetent individuals and the network's need to make profits has made this "show" a social nightmare where disaster lurks.

A game is about following the rules and using problem solving skills in order to master it; but more importantly the rules of the game are strictly enforced. These skills can be mental, physical or a combination of both. If this really were a game show, it would involve little to no "downtime". The contestants would participate in the competitions and those with the lowest performance would be eliminated or the others would be given some time to deliberate and eliminate someone through voting or the public vote someone out. This long period between competitions only serves to muddle the whole "game" aspect of the show.

Now before you chime in and say , "but strategy and power are part of the game", I will shut you down. It's not part of the game. It's part of the social experiment. There have been many social experiments conducted over the years (here is a pretty comprehensive list) to examine people's reactions, behaviors and relationships. They have a particular goal in mind; they use control and test subjects; they choose from a wide or narrow cross-section of the population; and they have a theory to prove.) Conformity, abuse of power, cruelty, violence and compassion are some of the human qualities tested in these experiments.

Let's apply this to Big Brother, shall we? The goal of the show is to produce revenue and generate ratings, so right off the bat, the "term social  experiment" applies more to the producers than the participants. The ultimate goal is to make money, therefore, the decisions the producers make, the way they manipulate the "experiment" and the way they "edit" what is really happening proves that there is zero objectivity or concern for the human experience.

The "rules" of the experiment are nebulous and free-flowing, subject to interpretation and manipulation; the rules are more about protecting the network than any of the participants. When the house guests are asked to stop singing, it's about copyright not an attempt to control behaviour in order to examine it. When the subjects break the rule, there are no consequences for them. The "have not" element of this "experiment" was surely put in place to introduce an element of punishment, but this season the responsibility of who is to be deprived has been solely in the HoH's hands. Further, they have bent over backwards to accommodate one house guest, over others in his food and his physical conditions because he's related to a marginally popular singer.

The casting process or the selection of subjects for this "social experiment" has been increasingly performed under unethical circumstances. They supposedly rely on casting calls, audition videos, interviews and psych evaluations to cast each season, but that's all bogus. There is a very obvious casting mandate to include people who conform to certain stereotypical, racial, gender, societal and cultural profiles. Add to that the fact that a lot of these people are recruited based on their aspirations to break into acting and modelling careers, thereby needing TV exposure further taints the casting process. When "normal" people or self-proclaimed "superfans" are cast, they're also subject to the same stereotypical expectations.

Though the hopefuls supposedly go through psych evaluations, it's become increasingly evident that they are ignoring the red flags; in fact they are probably using those red flags to cast people who provide "drama". In BB14, Willie Hantz was ousted from the game for getting into a physical altercation with another contestant, Joe Arvin. It was quickly evident when the season began that Willie was emotionally unstable and volatile. There is no way, that didn't come up in the testing. (i'm not even going to go back into the history of marginal behaviour as I've gone into detail in previous posts).

When the BB15 cast was interviewed, there is no way the testing would not reveal their proclivity for violence, racism and fringe outlooks. Aaryn Gries became the poster child for racism and was taken to task for it, which she deserved, but Amanda Zuckeman's, GinaMarie Zimmerman's, Andy Herren's and Spencer Clawson's comments and behaviour were cleansed in the television edit. Feedster outrage was ignored. (For a more immediate and detailed look into their horrific behaviour go into the archives for season BB15 in this blog).

BB16 has been plagued with misogyny, sexual harassment and a perpetuation of rape culture. When Caleb Reynolds developed a highly unstable attachment to fellow-contestant, Amber Borzotra who had clearly and vocally told him she was not interested, he was encouraged by many fellow house guests including woman-centered minster Jacosta Odom, police sergeant Derrick Levasseur and father of a daughter Devin Shepherd to pursue Amber, to touch her in her sleep, to kiss her, knowing she was not interested and uncomfortable with the situation. Hayden Voss, a seemingly happy-go-lucky pedi-cab driver, expressed on at least two occasions the desire to 'murder" Amber. All the rest of the house guests, as did Caleb's family and a portion of the fanbase, blamed Amber for Caleb's unhealthy obsession with her.

She was finally evicted and freed from this toxic environment but not before a huge portion of fans expressed outrage at her treatment. There is no way, Reynold's obsessive and unhealthy propensities did not raise any red flags if proper testing/interviews were conducted. His gleefully violent behavior towards the animals he's hunted is proof enough of a disturbing instability.

This was just the tip of the iceberg as misogyny manifested itself during several occasions culminating in a horrific discussion last night when Frankie J Grande made a "joke" about Cody Calafiore and Reynolds "double teaming" Victoria Rafaeli and taking her virginity from all her orifices, which the other two along with police sergeant Levasseur and resident hag Christine Brecht laughingly encouraged.

Were any of these people told to "STOP THAT" or called to DR to be reprimanded at any point? Nope. It doesn't contravene production's major rule: the more controversial the participants' behaviour is, the more ratings they get. The producers have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to racist and misogynistic bullying, threats of graphic violence and rape, "jokes" about gang rape, sexual harassment, child molestation and animal cruelty. Not once were the perpetrators and their cheering squad reprimanded for such intolerable vocalizations even when the viewers expressed deep and disturbed outrage. Of course, it had no effect, because viewers kept watching and talking about it, contributing to the network's ultimate goal - ratings and revenue.

The fact that all the victims of these horrific intentions, the people who did not participate or give into the mob mentality but had to endure sub-human conditions were eventually ousted from the house in the last two seasons sheds a very disheartening light into society. This social experiment is proving that all the hard work that has been put in on a global scale to eliminate, racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and stereotyping is for naught. This alarming behaviour thrives in the underbelly of society and is proudly broadcast by a network who thinks it's okay as long as they include a disclaimer.

Well, I have news for you Mr. Moonves. Those who stand by and allow this behaviour, even shrouded under the guise of a "social experiment" implicitly take part in and condone said behaviour. But, you don't have to lose any sleep as along as the ratings put money in your pocket.

Stay tuned :)