This week Alexandra was summarily removed from the Big Brother UK house after making indirect threats towards fellow housemates and their friends and families. I think this incident highlights a possible difference between Big Brother Australia and Big Brother UK. It is my impression that the Australian BB management seems to be more tolerant of racism, threats, assault, and offensive behaviour in general.
[A transcript of Alexandra’s remarks is footnoted.]
Last year, Emily was promptly removed from the BB UK house after using the “N word”toward a fellow housemate, Charley. Her intention wasn’t angrily abusive, but it was deemed unacceptable even with a single remark made “in jest”. As soon as Big Brother determined that her comment was unacceptable, Emily was hauled out of bed and removed in the middle of the night, without warning.
[Further video of Emily’s eviction is here.
In 2006, housemates John and Ashley were removed from the Big Brother Australia house after they sexually assaulted a fellow housemate – the now-infamous “turkey slap” incident. They physically held Camilla down while Ashley slapped her in the face with his penis. However, BB didn’t remove them straight away. They kept quiet, hoping that no one would notice. Only after live stream watchers and bloggers kicked up a stink did they, apparently reluctantly, decide to do something about it.
This year, in the BB Autralia house, Ben, Rory, and Nobbi assaulted and injured Travis. They burst in on him in the toilet and squirted a shower cleaning product (possibly concentrated bleach) in his eye. This assault led to Travis spending a couple of days in hospital, and his sight was threatened.
Not only did BB management fail to pull Travis out for medical attention when he was in severe pain and trying to irrigate his eye with tap water from a drinking glass; they also did nothing at all about the assault itself, except to warn the perpetrators that some of their behaviour might not go down well with the voting public. Big Brother publicly lied, calling the event an “accident”, and trying to pass it off as a few “boys” bored and blowing off steam. They also called the substance “shower gel”, leading the public to believe that it was a mild, relatively harmless soap or detergent product.
Notably, when two women got into a verbal argument, they were severely spoken to and both awarded a “strike”, the heaviest non-eviction punishment that can be given in the BB AU house.
So what’s going on here? Is there a pattern, or a series of random events? Whatever else is going on, I think one thing is clear: Big Brother UK takes abuse and racism far more seriously than BB AU does, and acts promptly rather than covering up, hoping no one notices, and reluctantly taking minimum (or no) action long after the event.
One other thing is clear to me, also, as a regular viewer, watching the “jokes” and behaviour that go on constantly: sexism is rampant in all the BB houses in the Anglosphere, and is completely off the radar of any Big Brother production team. It’s 100% acceptable, across the board.
Transcript of Alexandra’s threatening comments, courtesy of the BBC:
TUESDAY 17 JUNE 2217BST
Darnell: Sylvia is keeping it real, said if it had been me, I’d have thrown water over somebody.
Alex: I’m not throwing water at anyone. It’s bigger than that. This is three months, do you know what I mean? Three months in a house.
Everyone’s got to come outside the house. Personal offence is never forgotten, do you know what I mean? We’re just inside the house.
I’ve got a very, very, very, very, very strong team outside the house, strong, so solid, strong. I look forward to whatever the result.
If I get out first, I get out, make the plans. Everyone’s got to come out after that. Every single one of you come out afterwards, remember I told you. Like I say, my team is strong, so strong.
Alex: I just can’t wait to see my mans [sic] and them and see what their plans are, who they got…I’m not talking about those mans, I’m talking about my gangster friends.
Alex: They got some instructions to follow out.
Darnell: That’s what I mean…I’ve never seen anything like this, the people in here aren’t real. It’s like that movie shit, like movie people in here.
Alex: If you go, you get to make all the plans that you wanna make. When you’re in here you can’t do certain things. In my life I’m used to doing certain things.
You know people piss me off and I do something, like. I can’t actually do that while I’m here. But like I say, I get to go out, see everyone’s friends, I get to see their family. I get to do the shit that I wanna do. Pow, pow, pow.”