It’s that time of year again — to lament the downfall and the displeasure in how the most recent incarnation of CBS’ Big Brother “reality” television show is, once again, unfolding before us — and the thing that bites me today is the sort of person CBS lures onto the show to live an exposed life 24/7 for 90 days.
There are few among us who could survive 90 days of live internet feed exposure and those currently playing Big Brother 16 are no different. I frequent several online communities, and over the last weekend, I shared some of my thoughts on this season pitting undercover cop Derrick against the gameplay of school groundskeeper Donny.
Here are some of the things I said, and I will expand on the context to help you grasp conditions if you aren’t as embedded into this season’s Big Brother as I am — at this moment.
My first comment concerning how this year is becoming a repeat of “The Friendship” year that was, without a doubt, the worst season of Big Brother in history, where a nurse named Maggie took a human puppet to the end — Ivette — by manipulating her, and everyone around her, into following Maggie’s every wish and want. Cappy was the fireman muscle in that season. He was a scrappy hothead who lived to yell and intimidate.
This year, we have Caleb who threatens and spouts and there isn’t a current houseguest among them who ever questions Caleb’s delusions or tells him, “no.” Caleb steals their clothes. Caleb brags. Caleb stalks.
I see the connection as well and, if you think about it, the role of Cappy this year is being played by Caleb — he’s the indignant muscle doing all the threatening and dirty work without a clue in the world to where the real game is being played.
My biggest complaint isn’t about Caleb — he’s an insecure bully who will get his public rebuke the moment he leaves the house — my concern is focused on Derrick, the cop who lies so easily and calmly and has absolutely no game because to lie to everyone in the house is to be the largest sort of ultimate loser you could ever meet. We’ll see how skillful the other players think he is when it is finally revealed he’s a police officer.
Derrick is hiding his cop identity from the other houseguests — they think he works for the parks department — because he knows to out himself as law enforcement is a one-way ticket out the door, and we know that’s true, or else he’d tell people his real identity.
Derrick’s main protector in the house is Victoria, a sheltered Jewish woman who is fearful and tiny and who appears to enjoy being master Derrick’s ongoing submissive. It’s hard to watch their relationship unravel on the live internet feed.
It’s all about vibe and intention. There is a certain creepiness with the Derrick/Victoria master/manipulated dyad that some of us feel and recognize and recall from the Maggie/Ivette morass.
There is an uncomfortable, involuntary, puppetry going on between Derrick/Maggie and Victoria/Ivette that we know from seeing everything, and it is that purposeful and planned loss of free will and independent decision-making that concerns because we know this never turns out well in the end for the puppet.
Do we hold police officers to a higher standard than other public employees? Yes, we do, and yes, we must because they hold the ability to kill you from their hip. Cops don’t go home and stop being cops. They’re always on duty until they turn in their badge and gun.
You can’t stop being a police officer — as Derrick proves everyday in the Big Brother house with his endless interrogations and ongoing intimidation of Victoria — and that creates a larger problem for the rest of society who must inherently trust the authority and presence of the police in our everyday lives in order to preserve the peace.
I’m not a Dan fan or a Dr. Will fan. I don’t like players who use religion or their medical backgrounds to willfully manipulate and hurt others just for the unreasonable love of money.
That said, Derrick is in total control of one thing — not the game — but Victoria. It’s uncomfortable to watch him control her because he knows what he’s doing but she does not and that means he’s using his police training to psychologically, and unnecessarily, manipulate another person for personal gain.
I really don’t know how Derrick thinks he can return to his police life after appearing on this show. He’s cruelly taken entire control of another person for his own gain and who would want that sort of person on staff protecting the people? I’d run from him if I were the Chief of Police. Officers need to be above reproach — especially publicly — honest, kind and they do the right thing; and they certainly should not be allowed to play this dirty game on TV and live internet without expecting the worst upon return. Desk duty calls.
Other online commenters defend Derrick and argue he isn’t mean and that he is playing a “masterful” game. I find that an odd sentiment because to lie to everyone around you every day, all day, is no talent at all. That’s the mark of a deceptive, controlling, personality that isn’t just invented for gameplay — it’s a honed way of life living across many years and sprouts in early developmental moments as a child — and we see the result every single day in a historic habit of action that cannot be denied.
Donny, the groundskeeper, is playing an upright and honest game that commands respect. Sure, you may have to fib a little in Big Brother at times, but you can still remain true to your moral core with a little white lie to preserve the self and protect the innocent — but the same argument cannot be made for players like Derrick who completely toss out any moral conditioning in the name of gameplay.
That sort of conditional, flexible, morality is what creates divides between people, nations, and the ever-after — and it’s always tempered by “buts” and excused by overarching righteousness.
Who are you today?
What lie will you have to tell me to cover you tomorrow?
Mean or not — and I still vote mean — Derrick is playing a game of low moral character. We see everything. Unlike a coach, or a restaurant owner, who can later say, “Oh, I was playing a game” — Derrick won’t be able to so easily dismiss and excuse how he’s playing Victoria when he’s released from house incarceration.
Police officers are sworn to preserve and protect and they take their guns home at night; so while they’re off duty, they aren’t unsworn from the tenets of their job. You’re a cop 24/7 in real life and, unfortunately for Derrick, in the BB16 house, too.
The person who is playing the cop game, the morally upright strategy without shame, is Donny. Isn’t it funny that he’s playing the game Derrick should be playing in order to maintain wholly whom he was sworn to be in life?
That’s why many tend to love Donny. He isn’t dirty. He’s playing by moral rules. He doesn’t value the dollar over hurting someone in the process. He may get voted out, and he may not win, and that’s just fine by him, and us, because he won’t lower himself to the depths to pick up a dime.
Morality matters — even in a game like Big Brother. You can play nasty or you can play nice. You can get really dirty or you can choose to stay as clean as possible. It’s all about choice and, unfortunately, in the Big Brother world, the lowest and the dirtiest always fall the farthest because that’s what the majority immorality reflects among us and reflexes around us.
We get a little, visceral, thrill when a lie is believed.
That is a sad commentary on who we are, and what we’ve become as a nation when the biggest liar and deceiver has willing sycophants — inside the house, and outside the house online — wishing a win for immoral gameplay that only defines our greatest, ongoing, human losses and integrity deficiencies.
Beware! We are what we admire!
At its core, Big Brother is about how low you’ll go to win $500k — and I wish they played up that angle even more on the show than they already do. Some people keep their morality and their spirit and win: Ian.
Others, many others, take the easiest and lowest road to play, and turn dirty and lie and cheat because they think it’s all in the name of the game and, in BB, as in America, there’s no bottom to how low some will go to get rich, even if momentarily.
That’s why, after faithfully reading this forum for so many years, so many of us are disappointed in the winners, who are actually losers, and we tend to lose faith in the game midway — because the people who play as we wish we would behave — are quickly sent out of the house by the more nefarious and devious and the liars and the cheats and the manipulators. Is the lesson to become them, or to remain your moral self beyond the temptations of corruption?
We keep returning each year to BB, because we hope this year will be different. We want the game to be played right, and fairly. We want the moral core to be confirmed and preserved. We are searching for unconditional foundations. We find comfort in the great, enduring, hope in humanity that we earnestly search for in our own lives with every Spring renewal. Unfortunately, more often than not, we end up being disappointed when the Fall becomes us and Winter enrobes us. Big Brother is us.
So Big Brother is all about testing moral character and the price you’re willing to pay to lose yourself — or to confirm, in a public forum — just who you really are, and there’s no escape from that revelation.
The best players do not change. The best players are who they are in the house and out of the house and that’s why, honestly, Evel Dick is one of my all-time favorites. Yes, he was an unkind, mean, person in and out of the house but he didn’t try to hide who he was or what he wanted. To me, that’s a much more moral game in being true to your center than anything I’ve seen Derrick do in the house so far.
What does Big Brother say about us and what do we have to claim against Big Brother?
I quoted, and then commented on, my own, other, internet thoughts here to give a greater depth of expression and examination into this moral conundrum.
You can’t often have a rational discussion in fan forums because there’s no use in pointing out a cruelty to someone who refuses to recognize it — and those people are unable to know the nastiness because that vein of inhumanity is common in their lives — proving yet another mortal wounding to the heart of this nation.