I’ve Said It Before And I’ll Say It Again
(Spoilers Below! Read At Your Own Risk!)
Big Brother is a game with real people which means they’re playing with real emotions. This rings beyond true for the BB19 house as it stands. In a recent interview on The Russell Hantz show, Survivor alumni Russell Hantz spoke with Robyn Kass about all-things-Big-Brother-casting. Robyn is the queen of casting and has been in the game since the beginning of reality television. She has incredible insight on the Big Brother game and one that really stood out to me was her emphasis on emotions. You’re kept in isolation with 15 other strangers whose job it is to lie and deceive you so they can win the money you need for you and your family. You have no contact with the outside world. You have no creature comforts. You have no friends and there is no truth. People wonder why some houseguests act the way they do but put yourself in the same incubator and see how long you can hide from you at your worst.
The top three winners in the US series all happen to be masters of emotional regulation: Dr. Will, Dan Gheesling, and Derrick Levasseur. Maintaining your emotions has been a sign of greatness in terms of gameplay but I’m wondering if there’s a societal impact here. Up until recent years, being an outward emotional person is seen as a weakness. I watched an episode of Shark Tank where Barbara Corcoran scolded an entrepreneur passionate about fake eyelashes because she had tears rolling down her face. When something matters to you? When something becomes your entire world? Yeah, sometimes there’s tears.
In America alone, 6.8 million adults are currently struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 15 million Americans today have been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. This is something I’ve always wrestled with myself. I have this deep desire to play the game I love to watch and blog about but at the same time, in my real life, I deal with both depression and anxiety. There was a time when I was medicating through pharmaceuticals and when those didn’t work, I turned to alcohol but it didn’t make the situation any better. Over time, with efforts towards sobriety and healthy living, I cut out the alcohol, was able to live day-to-day without the help of any medication, started eating better, moving more and gave my life a complete makeover. It’s something I have to face daily and put a conscious effort of maintaining or else I’m going to be dead in the water. Or rather, the whiskey.
One of the main deterrents in my mind of entering the Big Brother house would be not being able to manage my emotions in that environment. I’m in the school of thought that if you’re putting yourself out there and taking the risk to play the game, you can’t just play with the parts of yourself you like, you need to play with your whole self. The good, the bad and the ugly. Because emotions can flip on a dime in the Big Brother house and when they do you need to be ready to adapt.
An Evolution of “Emotional Strategy”
In recent seasons, this societal ideal of “playing with emotion” somehow makes you weaker is slowly going away. Big Brother 14 winner Ian Terry won the entire game while dealing with anxiety and repetitive behaviours. While in the house, to calm his nerves, Ian would sit on the hammock and rock back and forth hundreds of times to help him cope with the environment. And with a killer like Dan Gheesling on the loose… I don’t blame the guy.
Big Brother 17 standout was Vanessa Rousso who used her emotions to her own advantage. In a game of emotional manipulation, it’s funny how we praise those that manipulate the emotional people but put down those that use their own emotions to manipulate. If what you’re feeling in the moment is sadness but you can’t leave the game — then a good player will use their own sadness to their advantage.
I was sad today. I had a bad night’s sleep, heard some unsavoury gossip about yours truly and reminded of some friends I recently had to part with that is still leaving its sting. I’m the first person to say you need to take care of yourself first and do what’s best for you and your family. I’m also the first person to say “muscle through it”. I don’t mean that in a manly, macho way but sometimes, overcoming the battles in your own head feels like you’re pushing a boulder uphill all by yourself.
I like to live by the motto that hope is right around the corner. When you’re down and out and your back is up against the wall, no one wants to play with you and everyone wants you out, just hold on. You never know when someone will flip their vote, or an advantage will come its way, or an opportunity to splinter the majority. It’s a positive way to look at a bad situation.
In the game of Big Brother, I’m starting to wonder if emotional strategy is becoming regular staple in the game. Josh isn’t afraid to cry and let others see him crying, neither was Big Meech from BB18. Christmas is using the pain she’s feeling from her injury to garner sympathy as is Raven who is using her gastroparesis to her advantage. Cody is emotionless 90% of the time which leads to a bottle-necking situation for the 10% of the time where they successfully get under his skin and he snaps. Jessica feels alone and alienated. Mark is a giant teddy bear who has already had his fair share of breakdowns and rage-isodes. Alex is jealous of Jessica and is allowing that jealousy to dictate her game.
Paul is maybe the most complex of the whole house. Everyone is focussing on his intense game of jedi mind tricks that he’s pulling on everyone to do his bidding. He comes off arrogant and belittling but he’s also in control. He lost the game last year due to the way he treated people. Even to the point where he called Big Meech the C word while in the game. There’s an argument for the game he’s playing and how he’s running the house. There’s also an argument for the fact that he’s playing emotionally. This entire thing about him turning the whole house on Cody and Jessica is because he’s hurt by the fact that Cody tried to backdoor him. I never think alienating people or making others feel low is a good way to play Big Brother. You never know when they’re going to be in a power. He has done very little to repair those relationships. Instead, he has turned the entire house on them like a pack of rabid coyotes. They refer to Jessica and Cody as bullies to give themselves permission to bully them.
The recent live-feeds showed Paul rallying the houseguests to attack Cody’s military service, wanting them to call him a coward and make him snap. They wanted to get Cody so emotional that he would hit someone or quit. Him and Jessica even talked about quitting.
There’s no way around this: It’s simply ugly human behaviour. I won’t use that behaviour to burn them at the cross when they come out of the Big Brother house but they will have to account for their actions and take ownership over their own words. The time will come where they will have to take responsibility for their actions in the Big Brother house so I encourage any Big Brother fan reading this article to leave them be when they come back to the real world. I don’t believe the response to hate should be hate.
These are real people with real emotions. They are hurt and responding to how they feel, in the moment, completely unfiltered. I know we get to hide behind our social media profiles and pretty suburban houses and pretend like life is okay everyday, but this is what life looks like when the spotlight’s on and never leaves.
The catalyst of all this behaviour, house-wide bullying, fights, tears, was because Jessica got a power that can save her and Cody at this Thursday’s eviction. Some people are internalizing wondering why America would vote for her and not them. Alex saying things like “we’re the underdogs, not them”.
Needless to say… NO ONE’S IMPRESSED.
The Dos and Don’ts Playing With Your Emotions
The following is a little guide to those who dream of playing the game but lean on the emotional side of life. It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. But here are some ways to help your game and keep your sanity in the Big Brother house.
- Find someone to confide in, every Jessica needs their Cody and when Cody left she found comfort in Kevin
- The bathroom and the diary room are the best places to cry, a little escape until you can collect yourself and decide what you’re going to do
- Remember it’s a game and make time for fun
- And while you’re at it, make time to laugh. My mother used to tell me that a marriage will always survive as long as there’s laughter in the house. Once the laughter dies, so does the marriage.
- Be honest about how you feel and what you’re going through
- Find methods that work for you to either calm down and or recover from a rough emotional bout
- Walk away when others are purposely instigating you and trying to set you off
- Remember why you’re there and who you’re playing for
- Make it personal. Your lives continue outside of this house and all your families are watching.
- Say something you might regret (remember, the cameras are watching!)
- Stoop low if someone else is stooping low, be the bigger person
- Attack race, gender, class, societal role, sexual orientation, etc. It’s going to come back to bite you and it’s not a nice thing to do. Be a good human.
- Let others bring you down, you are there for you and your family, get it done and f*** the rest
- Let others define you. Just because someone says bad things about you and everyone believes it doesn’t mean it’s true. I’ve experienced this in real life where people projected an image of me that was untrue to make them feel better about themselves.
People are both fragile and resilient. Right and wrong. Doomed and destined. Have love in your heart, have kindness, and have hope.
Not sure the best way to end today’s post but I feel like the image below sums it up perfectly. There’s many different responses to any one given situation.
Thank you for reading this week’s Big Brother post on www.cliffordmyers.ca. Who do you relate to in the Big Brother house? Would you rage like Mark? Would you be jealous like Alex? How do you think you would fair in these intense mental conditions?
Clifford Myers is a standup comedian from Hamilton, Ontario who loves Big Brother.