PA­TRICK FREYNE

Tears are cur­rency in the Big Brother house and the over­lord won’t be de­prived of their salty good­ness

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET STUBS -

I have a vague child­hood mem­ory of col­lect­ing tad­poles for school (be­fore this was con­sid­ered cruel) and the teacher accidentally leav­ing them in a tank over the midterm break. When we re­turned there was one fat gluttonous tadpole left.

I haven’t seen Big Brother in years (since it went to Chan­nel 5) so when I tuned in to watch it on TV3, I ex­pected to see just one ne­glected bloated can­ni­bal con­tes­tant, prob­a­bly Ge­orge Gal­loway, and the CEO of En­de­mol apol­o­gis­ing pro­fusely to all of our par­ents. But no, while the an­cient Big

Brother TV for­mat is show­ing signs of ne­glect, there are still 14 house­mates: 15, if you con­sider The Twins as two peo­ple, which

Big Brother does not (The Twins nom­i­nate and are nom­i­nated to­gether).

Long gone are the psy­chi­a­trists who once gave this “ex­per­i­ment” a sheen of re­spectabil­ity. Long gone is Dav­ina McCall, though it’s said that if you pause your telly you’ll see her ghostly form sham­poo­ing her hair and shriek­ing.

Yet the dis­em­bod­ied voice of Big Brother still booms and when not cater­ing to its capri­cious whims, the denizens of Big

Brother en­act en­nui-filled vignettes.

An Ir­ish­woman talks to her­self while ap­ply­ing her make-up. “It’s an eye­brow, just an eye­brow,” she says, as though star­ring in a one-woman Becket play. Some grown men fence with spoons. Contestants wear rosettes declar­ing the fickle public’s judg­ment of them as “su­per­fi­cial” or “fake.” A woman mut­ters to Big Brother: “You can’t trust no one.”

Big Brother tasks Eileen, the old­est house­mate, with con­vinc­ing peo­ple she is a) de­sirous, b) fear­ful, and c) filled with anger. Some contestants don’t seem to think her be­hav­iour bizarre, prob­a­bly be­cause they’ve never met an older per­son be­fore. They treat her like the peo­ple of fu­ture Earth treat Peter Ustinov in

Lo­gan’s Run.

Big Brother is con­stantly or­ches­trat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for tears and luck­ily most of the house­mates love a good cry. A woman called Har­riet praises a woman called Sarah for be­ing a strong char­ac­ter. Sarah puts her hand to her face. “Am I go­ing to make you cry?” says Har­riet hope­fully. “No, my face was itchy,” says Sarah

Har­riet is dis­ap­pointed. Tears are cur­rency in the Big Brother house and she’s been de­prived of their salty good­ness.

Dur­ing a com­pul­sory game of Truth or Dare, half of The Twins tells un­der­wear model Aaron he doesn’t need to be in the house be­cause he is al­ready suc­cess­ful. Aaron takes to his bed sob­bing in­con­solably. Half of The Twins doesn’t know where to look. The rest of the house­mates grind to

Gold Digger by Kanye West. As well as weep­ing, house­mates also like ren­der­ing lan­guage mean­ing­less. Af­ter Har­riet tells Ad­joa that she thinks she’s greedy, she makes amends by say­ing: “I re­ally do adore you” when what she re­ally means is: “You are an ac­quain­tance whom I can learn to tol­er­ate. Yes, I’m pretty sure I would be up­set for a while if you died.”

The house­mates are ob­sessed with eggs. On Tues­day, egg dis­tri­bu­tion is dis­cussed in soviet de­tail. On Mon­day, house­mates muse about egg ori­gins. “An egg comes out just un­der a chicken’s beak,” says Joel, who also spends time pre­tend­ing to host a chat show in the bath­room. “An egg comes out of a chicken’s bum,” says Chloe, and this seems to set­tle mat­ters.

No one bursts into tears, ex­cept pos­si­bly the ghost of Lord Reith who en­vi­sioned such high minded chit-chat when con­sid­er­ing the fu­ture of public broad­cast­ing.

Later Big Brother de­cides to get house­mates to nom­i­nate one an­other for evic­tion face-to-face. Weep­ing, they de­nounce one an­other for be­ing ar­ro­gant, or aloof, or, in the case of Eileen, old. Scores are set­tled. Hunkily non­sen­si­cal Cris­tian nom­i­nates no-non­sense Chloe be­cause of a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion dur­ing a dis­cus­sion of three­somes. “You said: ‘You’re too young to be hav­ing three­somes’,” he says sadly. “I was a bit put out by that.”

Ad­joa, Sarah and Eileen are cho­sen and come week’s end, one will be ban­ished/cast into a vol­cano. Cris­tian is saved be­cause Jack, who has been ar­bi­trar­ily granted the power to pro­tect one house­mate, chooses him. This moves Cris­tian greatly. “I think God sent Jack to do such a thing,” he says with tears in his eyes. “Peo­ple are go­ing to laugh at that but that’s where the name Cris­tian came from.” (He re­ally does love Crist).

Af­ter the show trial, house­mates drink al­co­hol. Aaron, who wishes to be seen as more than just an un­der­wear model, dances in his un­der­wear and shouts: “I love wine. Wine is my friend.”

Later we watch Aaron vom­it­ing alone. Then the words “we have failed as a so­ci­ety” flash up on the screen and the cred­its roll in com­plete si­lence (full dis­clo­sure: only one of the pre­vi­ous two sen­tences is true).

Aaron, who wishes to be seen as more than an un­der­wear model, dances in his un­der­wear and shouts: ‘I love wine. Wine is my friend.’ Later we watch him vom­it­ing alone

Eileen: like Peter Ustinov in Lo­gan’s Run

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