The Stanford experiment pitted Haves against Have-Nots and resulted frighteningly high levels of abuse and confrontation. Frighteningly high levels of abuse and confrontation are exactly what reality TV shows need. So Celebrity Big Brother created an arbitrary and unfair divide and sat back and waited. What could possibly go wrong?
Pretty much everything. Instead of abuse and confrontation the Big Brother producers have somehow instituted fellowship and team-bonding. Where there might have been discord they have created harmony. Basement-dwelling Have-Nots cast aside personal well-being and selflessly powered their more fortunate neighbours’ electricity and hot water despite receiving no obvious benefit themselves. The Main house inhabiting Haves responded by sacrificing their own luxury foodstuffs to their more unfortunate fellows. It was enough to bring a tear to the eye. Especially if you were a member of the Big Brother production team when you saw the ratings.
Desperately the poor dears up on the gantry tried to drag some ugly discord out of the whole happy mess by forcing the basement dwelling Have-Nots to put one of their fellows up for a public vote. Surely this would bring some kind of animosity? But no! Razor, Sam, Ryan and Frankie all bravely volunteered to face televisual annihilation. It was like Scott in the Antarctic with four Captain Oates’. They chose Frankie after all saying how popular and loved he was. It was the nicest eviction vote I have ever seen.
It may well have been the nicest eviction vote they’d seen up in the Control Room too. And nice evictions aren’t getting anybody backstage a performance bonus. The production crew threw up their hands in despair and abruptly ended the basement/main house divide story line before the housemates started getting matching tattoos and swearing to be best friends forever. I suspect this wasn’t the idea three days ago.
In truth the poor Programme Makers have been outmaneuvered from the start. First, Paula who was the housemate most likely to get grumpy in the cellar suffered a wonderfully timed mystery illness and was released into the land of milk and honey (or at least hot water and a working toaster) and then Speidi…
Oops! That reminds me that I was going to write about how Speidi are different from all the other contestants. But first a digression into history. Not real history obviously – wattle and daub huts, Vikings, Mary Queen of Scots and all that, but reality history which is different. Reality TV history officially began the moment “Nasty” Nick Bateman broke the rules in Big Brother 1 and changed the course of the future forever (all reality time before this moment is known as BC – Before Crap and all after it is known as AD – Advertising Deluge). Reality TV discovered the power of evil on ratings and things have never been the same since. Unfortunately Nick Batemans cannot be guaranteed to turn up whenever you want them. You can obviously do your best by screening out anybody who appears well-balanced, mature and self-contained and screening in anybody who appears weak, needy and open to being manipulated. But even this lacks certainty. The alternative is to hire a professional. Or professionals.
Which brings me back to Speidi and their differences from everybody else. Most obviously they are two people, Spencer and Heidi – a married couple (even though they did come close to divorcing, stating, according to Wikipedia, that they believed it would further Heidi’s career – a cheery reflection on modern society if ever there was one). Spencer and Heidi are reality TV professionals who have been brought in knowing they will be “villainised” – a fantastic word which they used in a previous episode revealing just how au fait they are with what’s going on. They remind me a bit of the pacemakers who feature in athletic events hired to keep things exciting in the opening laps while knowing they have absolutely no chance of winning the race.
But being Reality TV professionals Spencer and Heidi have learnt the key relationship is with the producers rather than their housemates. They signed on to be disliked and they signed on to be voted off but they did not sign on to do this while being hungry and cold. Once placed in the basement they responded simply by going on strike disappearing under sleeping bags and bedrolls and doing nothing. They even refused to meet the other housemates. It was a masterstroke. The poor production team must have been having kittens. Having lost their ace in the hole (Jim Davidson) to the police at Heathrow Airport, they now had their expensive imported vapid American couple going invisible on them. The clock was ticking. They had to get them out before they could be voted off. It was no surprise to see Spencer and Heidi rapidly promoted to the main house.
Now they’re there as well as everybody else they just look confused. Spencer knows he’s supposed to quarrel with someone but surrounded by a bubble of love and positivity he’s got nowhere to start, poor lamb. I bet things are a lot more poisonous at production crew meetings as the increasingly desperate programme makers have been forced into trying to attract ratings with extended video sequences of Razor Ruddock farting. In Celebrity Big Brother 11 the lunatics are threatening to take over the asylum.