04 July, 2006

big bother

I was trying to keep my blog out of this issue. I really was. Oh well...

"REVOLTING", says the front page of this morning's Herald-Sun - a typically balanced and reserved statement of current events from this publication. Notice how Murdoch's Liberal-Party/Collingwood-Football-Club Newsletter was nicely refraining from a value judgement on BigBrother, until the results of yesterday's phone-poll revealed that around 74% of their readership (or at least, those who have nothing better to do than call phone-surveys) want it axed. Now suddenly, it's "REVOLTING".

"Here's a great opportunity for Channel Ten to do a bit of self-regulation and get this stupid program off the air," John Howard said in a radio interview yesterday. Now, dear readers, how much of Big Brother do you think John Howard has ever watched? Loved the first three series but has been increasingly disappointed by the declining quality of housemate-selection? I think not. I would confidently suggest that John Howard has rarely if ever watched this show, and is merely weighing in on something he knows nothing about, because he believes that's what the middle-class middle-aged middle-conservatives who are his lifeblood want to hear. (Of course this is conjecture since I haven't been peering in the windows of Kirribilli to witness John and Janette's viewing habits.)

Other politicians, from Kim Beazley to Helen Coonan have also weighed in their unnecessary and doubtless ill-informed opinions, calling for the show to end. Meanwhile - believe it or not - good-ol' Bracksy has actually been the most sensible (if somewhat vague) political voice, stating, "[
if BB] complies with the arrangements which are set, it should go on".

So now then...

What "Ashley" and "John" did was unacceptable. It's typical of the disgusting, proudly disrespectful treatment of women that so many heterosexual men seem to wear as a badge of honour. Let's not be naïve here. As a random example, look up "donkey punch" on UrbanDictionary.com. It's not pretty. This is not to say that acts such as the one so affectionately dubbed "turkey-slapping" are necessarily disrespectful or degrading. All kinds of sexual play occur between consenting partners, and I am the last one to tread on what people can and can't do in the privacy of their own raunchiness.

But Camilla (is that her real name, or another pseudonym?) clearly did not consent to it happening, in this case. Many skanky straight-boys on various internet forums have focussed on the fact that she is a woman who has discussed her high libido (shock! horror) showed off her dildos and boasted about her group-sex experiences. SO FUCKING WHAT? The simple fact is, she did not want to be "turkey-slapped" by these boys, and therefore should not have had to put up with it. However, I also don't think it's accurate or constructive to paint her as a damaged, humilated victim in this situation - she was with friends, it was consentual sexualised play that went further than she was comfortable with. That in itself is unacceptable behaviour on the boys' part - but she told them she didn't like it, she told them to stop, and they did. Again, not to excuse or belittle the young-men's disgusting actions, but let's not fall into the trap of likening this to a genuinely malicious sexual assault.

And let's also not go down the path of condemning Big Brother's producers, or demanding the show be removed for the sake of society's morals. As has been stated elsewhere: it's a "reality" show, and this - unfortunatley - is part of reality. The aim of Big Brother ought to be to reflect real society - to provide a unique insight into the interactions of ordinary citizens, when placed in an extraordinary situation. Sex is part of real life. Unfortunately, so are sexual acts that go beyond the realms of acceptability. I'm not saying that BB should aim to show crimes and social atrocities, just because that's part of Real Life. I'm simply saying that, rather than condemn the program itself when something goes wrong, we should cast the mirror back on ourselves and our world.

Let's stop talking about the respective merits of a television show. John Howard, you disgraceful human being, you do not have the right to tell Australia's citizens what they should and should not be entertained by. This country is not your empire and you are not our dictator (yet. thank god.). Howard, Koonan, Draper, Beazley, editors of the Herald Sun, etc etc, rather than point your fingers at the producers of television shows, perhaps you should be encouraging the spirited debate that this scandal has brought about. Perhaps you should be contributing to the constructive discussion on the genuinely important issues
that have been raised. And perhaps when you see a corrupt unsavoury world reflected in your television screens, you should turn around and consider the world, not just condemn the television for showing it to you.

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Blogger Afe said...

Big Brothel got boring after the first series. I predict this will be the end of it's reign of terror.

July 04, 2006 10:10 am  
Blogger canoe said...

Great post Munkey.

July 04, 2006 10:10 am  
Blogger mindlessmunkey said...

Afe - in all seriousness I thought the second and third series of Big Brother were the best - with the most interesting, diverse housemates.

I suspect there was some big staff change in the Production Team after the second series, because it seems then the show has failed to find many housemates with much to offer other than shallow brainlessness and semi-naked shenanigans.

However that's not really the issue at hand.

Canoe - thanks! As I said, I wasn't planning to weigh in, but with so much hyperbole being flung around, I couldn't resist.

July 04, 2006 10:53 am  
Blogger lili said...

You are quite right, munkey, about everything you said. No, Big Brother shouldn't be axed over this incident (i do think it should be axed, but more because i think it's boring).

However, I don't think it should be screened at 7pm, or pitched so hard to tween kids. It just doesn't seem appropriate. It is a reflection of "reality", but I don't think we want kids to be looking to these guys as role models. Older teens, fine. But stick it on at 9:30.

Oh wait, I forgot. At 9:30 commercial stations are all too busy showing American crime shows about women getting raped.

I wonder what John Howard has to say about that?

July 04, 2006 11:25 am  
Blogger mindlessmunkey said...

Interesting point, Lili. Indeed it's a conundrum that certain elements of Big Brother are probably not acceptable for the tween market. However, the aggressive marketing to that market is the only thing that makes the show possible. Also, Channel 10 appear very careful to adhere strictly to the time and rating guidlines of each indivdual edition of Big Brother.

I agree with you entirely that these people should not be role models. But then neither should Shane Warne, Wayne Carey, etc etc. I think the way this country bestows idolatry on completely undeserving sexed-up bogans, is a much deeper issue than just Big Brother.

July 04, 2006 2:25 pm  
Anonymous Draikyn said...

That was an extremely well put argument, munkey - and one I completely agree with! I've been working virtually flat out this week and so had to do my homework to find out what was going on. From what I've read there is no was BB can be shut down except by external pressure (ie. sponsonrs pulling funding) since neither ten nor BB showed ANY footage of the incident nor described it in any detail. It was only on live streaming internet that it could have been viewed as it happened, or sirculated (may I add illegally) afterward.

On the other hand, rival stations Nine and Seven, who attack ten so lustrously for all of this, are the ONLY stations that actually aired footage of the thing! Ten and BB kept it as dignified and discreet as possible. Seven and Nine threw it in our faces in an attack on ten, and think they can get away with it because it was part of a news story.
Not only that but never anywhere other than in the media has this been referred to as sexual assault. I think I remember the term "sexual misconduct" used, but not "assault" which has an entirely different connotation altogether!

I with point out at this time that I am not all accepting of what those boys did. Actually I'm not even concerned with it anymore. What I'm most disgusted with now is the media twisting it into a hyped up sensation for their own benefit - and not just the media! *$@! those damn politicians!

As far as I'm concerned, the "incident" was meant all in good fun and got more than a bit out of hand. When Camilla told them to stop, they did. It should never have come to that, but Camilla herself has said that although she does think it got a bit out of hand, it was really all meant in good fun and she holds nothing against them, nor wanted any action taken.

On another note, this whole alias thing confused me but I think I may have figred it out. After reading John and Ashley's names Michael Bric and Cox, I also saw Camilla's name as "Camilla Haliwell" - Remember previous contestent Michael? I'm guessing BB gives aliases only to those who share the same name. Possibly...

~ Draik signing off on another one of his commonly too-long ramblings

July 04, 2006 11:52 pm  
Blogger Dr Philm said...

Hear Here! (sic) Nice Work Munkey! What intelligent, liberal minded, critical thinkers we all are. So, if there's people like us out there HOW THE FUCK DOES THIS COUNTRY KEEP VOTING THAT WEASLY LIL MAGGOT HOWARD IN!?! Sadly, issues like this make me feel once again that we are severely in the minority.

For what perfect timing it was to rally calls to censorship against a fairly tame (however benal and mind-numbing) reality TV program, when we have nightly 'Muslim bashing', Fear mongering, racially, sexually, and class divisive reports beaming from those towers of journalistic integrity; Today, Tonight, A Current Affair, and for the most part all the commercial network news broadcasts. Now, where are the politicians making calls for these inciteful and infinitely more socially destructive and morally bankrupt shows to be axed?

In the wake of the horrendous rape-murder in Perth last week, it seems nigh on unforgivable that culturally we would rather focus on an incident of Australian male chauvanistic wrong-doing (when it is promoted as positive and 'just a bit of fun' on every program - See The Footy Show'), rather than look to the possible causes of 'real' sexual assault; cultural myths and stereotyping, fear mongering, decreased funding on mental illness and care institutions et al.

Yes, what those two did was unacceptable, but the hyperbolic reaction within some circles of the Media and Politics (Sit Down Johnny and get out of your damn tracksuit) only acts to further undermine positive social change by sidelining the real causes of sexual and racial assaults of this nature.

Enough Said!

July 05, 2006 12:16 pm  
Blogger Dr Philm said...

Ok, now when I said, 'Enough Said!', I didn't mean to end the comments, I was merely trying to think of an affirmative way to finish 'my' say, which now I've just gone and undone...oops!

PS. Enough Said!
PPS. Please feel free to comment afterwards!

July 05, 2006 6:51 pm  
Blogger Steph said...

Ohhhh that is the BEST post I've seen on the subject. You've put into words exactly what i would have, if i was half as eloquent as you.
I think i'll chuck in Byron and fixate my gay boy obsession on you :P

July 07, 2006 9:28 pm  
Blogger mindlessmunkey said...

Draik - thanks for your thoughts. And yes, I believe you're right about the name situation. It happened in previous series too, such as with "Marty" (he of and Jess fame) whose real name was Nathan; there was another Nathan in that series.

Dr. - exactly right. Now go concentrate that kind of eloquence on becoming a real Dr., dammit! :p

Steph - Awww, poor Byron - surely you have enough gay blog obsessiveness to go around?

July 12, 2006 9:12 pm  
Blogger Steph said...

Fair point. I'm building a gay boy harem, I'll add you to the mix :P

July 14, 2006 4:08 pm  

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