Wednesday, May 24, 2006


'These Voices, These Voices, I Hear Them, And When They Talk I Follow'*

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following post about 'Big Brother' was written after tonight's show but - crucially - before I knew the big news. I have to say, I'm somewhat surprised that Shabhaz walked, simply because I presumed he was too much of a drama queen to avoid 'attempting' several walkouts before he actually did it. When Jack Dee left, he had to climb the fence. Shabhaz just strolled out. The reason, I suspect, that they didn't try and prevent him is his bizarre veiled suicide threats. Maybe he really is more confused than I give him credit for below. Sadly, his departure makes some of the content below a bit redundant, and some of it downright wrong, but I rather like this post so it's going up anyway.

'Big Brother' now faces a problem. With the man who was clearly the largest personality in the house gone, they have to fill the void with a bunch of people who suddenly don't seem terribly interesting without their feud with Shabhaz to fuel them. Bonnie's imminent eviction is a step in the right direction. Bonnie has been so cosmically dull that she has only mustered four pieces of news in the last four days on the website. She hasn't even followed through on her promise to get her kit off. However, even with her gone, the house is going to struggle this year. Entirely by the by, I think the Big Brotherhood is the worst idea that they've ever come up with, because it has meant that over half of the housemates simply don't need to form alliances and double-deal with each other. I hope it never returns.

Richard made a couple of interesting comments in 'Big Brother' today. In one, he opined that Shabhaz had gone 'completely mad'. In the other, in the Diary Room, he said that he wanted Shabhaz out not just because he'd been acting like a twat, but also because he was damaging the nations' perception of gay men, by fulfilling every negative cultural stereotype that we have.

I can see where he's coming from on both counts. Shabhaz has acted in a manner that the word 'strange' doesn't begin to cover, yet I don't believe him to be mad. Instead, he has three problems. Firstly, he mugs to the cameras all the time, concentrating upon audience perception rather than housemate relations. The truth is, however, he's a crap actor, and anyway the programme would collapse if all the housemates simply played to the cameras and not to each other. Secondly, he vocalises every thought he has the minute it comes into his head. This is inevitably going to lead to trouble. Finally, he just doesn't learn from his mistakes. If he pisses someone off, he'll sort of apologise, wait ten minutes and piss them off again. It can't work as a long-term strategy.

Instead of being mad, I actually believe he's very clever, and somewhat cynical. His profile on Channel 4 reads:

'In the words of Oscar Wilde 'Know thyself' - I do and I sleep well at night for this knowledge'.

Either this is true, and he is just acting the goose for the hell of it, or else he is in deep, deep denial. The truth is that he has to be reasonably well read to know that quote, and he doesn't actually seem lacking in any factual knowledge in the way that, for example, Nikki most definitely is.

So how about Richard's second allegation. I believe that here there really is a case to answer. There is an idea in sexuality studies called 'queerying the discourse'. This, essentially, concerns the attempt made my by gay rights advocates over the last twenty-five to thirty years to 'reclaim' negative words applied to gay people and gay culture. The most obvious example is the word 'queer' itself. Queer is an inherently negative adjective, alienating a group from an apparently defineable social norm. Yet the word 'queer' is now celebrated by gay culture - so we have Queer Studies, 'Queer As Folk', etc etc. Queer has come to be seen as defining gay men and women in a postive way - the social norms they are outside of are those that are negative, crime and violence and so forth.

This idea is somewhat controversial, particularly when applied to race. I seem to recall a media argument between Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino at the time of the release of 'Pulp Fiction'. The argument concerned the free and easy use of the word 'nigger' in the film, and the argument was over whether, by frequent repetition and humorous usage you remove any polemical value from a derogatory word, or whether that usage simply perpetuates currently residing racist attitudes.

Of what relevance is this to Shahbaz, you ask? Well, Shahbaz has spent most of the last few days, including in his entrance video, describing himself as a 'wacky Paki poof'. He continues, whether deliberately or not, and I believe it is the former, to make it seem as if he is trying to prove a political point by being in the House. So, when people disagree with him, he makes a sly suggestion that homophobia is a part of the reason. In a conversation with Dawn, he claimed that seeing someone like him in the house would challenge British peoples' attitudes.

I'm sorry, but I'm with Richard on this one. Shahbaz fulfils every negative stereotype about gay men that used to exist, and might have done more to damage the nations' perception of gay men and gay culture than anything since AIDS. He is flighty, touchy-feely to the point of perversion, catty, argumentative, silly, too willing to mug to the audience and he has mood swings that would make a pregnant woman blush. All of which would be annoying anyway, but it's elevated to an importance so much higher than that because of the manner in which he has made his appearance into a moment of political poignancy.

Richard is right - Shahbaz is a fount of negative stereotypes, and he should go as soon as possible. Sadly, this daft Big Brotherhood idea means he can't be evicted this week, so unless he follows through on his threats to walk out, which I believe he won't do, because they seem just a part of the act, then we have him making headlines for another ten days. Joy of joys.

Richard seems an altogether nicer man. I quite like him really. The sort of bloke I could imagine being friends with - though frankly, Sezer the geezer makes all of them look nice.

*Eminem & Dr Dre, 'Guilty Conscience'

I personally think Shabaz is mentally unstable- i think big brother knew he would behave like that- he's clearly got a personality disorder.
Its strange that we had 14 contestants and two of them have gone already (dawn has been dissqualified for communicating with the outside world), i dont know if they will be replaced, but this opening has been one of the most interesting ever... buti think it will now slip into the doldrums of boring romantic liasons and the flashing of nickis hideous pudding basin-like breasts. yak!
They were certainly promising to replace Shabhaz when he left . . . dunno about whether Dawn will be replaced.

You're right, Nikki's breasts do look pretty shite. Wasted money there.
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