‘Big Brother’ recap: Back in the gutter
This week, the Big Brother housemates finally got down to what BBers do best: Screwing around under a blanket, spouting anti-Semitic comments, and fighting amongst themselves. As usual, only one of the trifecta was actually broadcast: The other two were dirty little secrets spotted on the webcast and plastered on YouTube. I guess we should cover those two incidents first, before we get to the third one and the sanitized version of the show.
Late last week videos were posted of Ollie and April having two romps, one in the middle of a brightly lit room, the other in night vision. On last Thursday’s show, Ollie had pronounced that he would never disrespect a woman. So I guess when you’re boinking one on a national TV show, tossing a blanket over her first is the ultimate sign of respect. I’m sure a lot of you saw this video (hey, if we were proud people, we would never be watching this show in the first place), but the cinematography of the brightly lit go-round made me think that BB now has a work share going with the camera crews over at the Playboy Channel. It was all arty, soft-core zooms and pans over April’s bare, flexing foot, which was the only thing poking out from underneath Ollie’s tarp of respect. I kept expecting this scene to cut to a naked April riding a horse and then romping in a hayloft.
I did dig the young lovers’ heart-to-heart, which we saw on the program: Ollie revealed that he was into self-help books, while April proudly said she was into ”journaling,” which completely turned her life around. Jeez, you could introduce a hair dryer to a wind tunnel and the conversation wouldn’t be as vapid as this one. And then came the insufferable exchange about how Ollie doesn’t trust women, which he put in road-sign lingo for those of us who can only understand human emotions in terms of traffic. What was odd is that they were talking about how he doesn’t trust women, and yet they were doing it on the same couch in which they were either just about to get it on or just had. I can only imagine Ollie’s dirty talk: I’m guessing it involves a lot of references to ”going around the rotary” and ”laying down hot asphalt.” I just don’t want to know where he likes to park.
(One last comment about April: Is her hair and skin getting whiter by the day? She’s becoming translucent. I can’t decide if she’s starting to look more like Martin Short’s Jackie Rogers Jr. or Edgar Winter. If she starts to yodel ”Frankenstein,” that’ll clinch it.)
Then there was the annual flash of anti-Semitism. The webcam caught Jessie’s rambling lecture on how L.A. changes people who come there seeking fame, which culminated in his point that gay men and Jews run Hollywood. (Jews also run the banks, he added, for all of you at home playing Jewish Stereotype Bingo.) Hey, Amber: We have a soulmate for you, and good news: He can’t speak English either! (More on that later.) It’s comments like these that are probably the reason that the producers bend over backwards to make him look bad; they did the same thing to Amber. This is not a tsk-tsk, mind you. I for one applaud the producers for it. As a Jew, there is nothing I like better than making a bowl of popcorn, kicking back on the sofa, and watching an anti-Semite be exposed as an utter tool.
NEXT: Jerry’s Marine fighting skills
Which brings us to the fighting. Oh, the fighting! When the season began, had I been asked who would be at the center of most of the hollering, I never would have pegged Jerry. But man, can that guy get into it! I kind of admire his cool in the midst of all of it. He’s at a definite disadvantage, being that much older than everyone else, but he takes crap from no man or woman. When Memphis freaked out about being called a womanizer by Jerry, Jerry just sat there, hands folded behind his head, not even flinching as Memphis came at him, yelling, ”Are you out of your mind, old man?” Do you get the sense that Jerry is like one of those old kung fu masters from the movies who look feeble but then make fast work of the sniggering upstarts? What kind of martial-art mysteries is Jerry hiding in his tube socks?
Memphis also called out Jerry for grabbing at a woman’s [BLEEP], a reference I assume was to Jerry’s (and everyone else’s) testing of April’s natural boobs on the first day. It did make me wonder, though: Does the military gear stay on or come off when you’re grabbing a younger woman’s breasts? I don’t know if a Semper Feel is considered a disgrace or a credit to the Corps.
Jerry also took on Michelle when she later tried to stir up discontent, telling everyone he was trying to save Angie in place of Jessie. Jerry would not take such insubordination, swearing at her and shaking a mighty pepper mill. ”All four of ya, let’s get it on!” he croaked at her and her compatriots. I don’t know why I’m surprised; the man was in the Korean War. When you’ve been in armed combat, there’s really no reason to be afraid of a mixologist and someone who is professionally Portuguese.
What’s that you say? It’s been four paragraphs since I’ve crapped on Jessie? Well, I’m overdue! But where to start? We’ve covered his arrogance before, I know, but one statement of his caught my ear: Before the power-of-veto competition, he said, ”I could care less who plays in this competition. You could put up three people versus me, there’s nobody that I feel really threatened physically or mentally with.” It’s the ”mentally” part that stopped me cold. He is constantly talking about how everyone underestimates his massive brain power because of his muscles, and yet his command of the English language has clearly not been doing much heavy lifting. Mere moments after his ”mentally” statement, he said, ”I’m gonna fight with everything from toe to head of me.” Does he just throw all his words up in the air and then say them in the order that they fall on the ground?
NEXT: The wrong goodbye
Last night he also called Libra ”the most deviant person in this house” (meaning ”devious”) and gave Angie the most unintelligible farewell speech since Willy the whale’s goodbye to the little boy who freed him: ”You have a rationalized mind, and at least you’re going to be able to communicate with people who aren’t insane, or don’t have a really poor judgment of rationale. I could make more similes or analogies if you want, but I think you understand everything I’m trying to portray right now.” I love that statement so much, because it has so many layers of misused vocabulary, and cluelessness about his own terms, and it’s all topped off with an enormous cherry of irony. I am so in love with that passage that I want to get under a blanket and bang it.
I also loved watching Jessie’s increased desperation after he was nominated. He made constant trips up to the head-of-household room to petition Keesha, and I think he beat the land speed record for being patronizing. Jessie has a very specific manipulation stance that he took every time with Keesha: sitting down, leaning forward, arms reaching out in front of him as if trying to hand her a giant invisible bowl of common sense, with his face constantly contorted into a ”I can’t believe how stupid you are!” expression. (”I gave Keesha all the answers to everything in the world in this game,” he told the diary room, in disbelief that she didn’t accept it. This guy has such a God complex; can we just get someone to take him out to the middle of the ocean, dump him overboard, and tell him to walk home?) During one desperate filibuster, a shirtless Jessie prowled the HOH room, pointing his hands this way and that, and it looked like a caveman doing an interpretive dance.
His main goal was to get Keesha to take him or Angie off and put Libra up. He hammered Keesha, saying that Libra was against her, an accusation Libra parried by being up-front about her past suspicions of Keesha. Keesha explained multiple times to Jessie that she could never put Libra up, since she’d given her word. An increasingly desperate Jessie kept returning to her room, wailing that he was so agitated about this that he was losing weight. In his mind, this is probably the ultimate threat: If I start to lose muscle mass, you won’t have as perfect a physical specimen to gaze at! It would be like pissing on a sunset!
There have been isolated moments when I think Jessie is a good strategist. When the banner went overhead, it was a good strategy to pretend it said, ”Libra is a liar. Love, Steven,” to breed suspicion among Libra’s alliance. And at first, his logic to Keesha was sound. But the more desperate he got, the more crazy he became. In the diary room, he mocked Keesha’s staying true to Libra, then grumbled in disbelief, ”And that’s what this is coming down to.” So now he’s anti-loyalty? And then last night, even after being reassured by Keesha that he was staying, he worked hard to antagonize everyone, giving Libra the stink eye and calling Jerry ”Father Time.” (Ollie claimed Jessie also made ”a fart noise” while saying it, but I don’t think it was that. I think what Jerry heard was the sound of weight escaping from Jessie’s body.) With all this, can someone explain to me why it was unanimous to get Angie out? I don’t get it at all. Was it a loyalty thing, because Keesha had assured Jessie it would be Angie who went? By not accepting Keesha’s loyalty to Libra, Jessie had already proved that he can’t understand loyalty; therefore he doesn’t deserve it. But out she went.
NEXT: Food fight!
So now there’s the HOH competition, still in progress as I write this. (May I ask a favor to posters who have been watching the webcast? Please don’t reveal below who won the HOH competition. People know where else to go if they want to find out, and those who want to wait for Sunday shouldn’t have to worry about stumbling on a spoiler here.) But before I get to the HOH battle, let me touch on the two other competitions of the week:
First, the food competition. I personally find these useless. As a viewer, there is very little at stake for me in whether the house gets meat or cereal. Add that to a sock-matching game and you might as well just broadcast someone boiling hot dogs for all of my interest. Teams of two tried to match socks by screaming back and forth. So that was the selling point: ”Do you like folding laundry? Do you like listening to people scream? Then tune in Tuesday night for the best of both worlds!” The only good thing about it was getting to hear Renny howl. Much like when she got locked in the room in the dark, she slipped into an odd panicky fugue state, in which she sounded like a mix between Edith Bunker and Sylvester the cat.
I do love how every single challenge — no matter how simple — has to be accompanied by houseguests’ hyperbolic testimonials over how awesomely befuddling the games are. As the sock game was introduced, the show cut to Angie saying, ”And then there was a laundry basket of socks. We had no idea what was going on!” To be on Big Brother is to be constantly mystified by the utterly unremarkable.
Such stating of the obvious continued into the POV competition, in which everyone had to put on a flower costume, sit under a trickling faucet, and stay there until they guessed an hour had gone by. (Incidentally, the flower costumes involved a green unitard. Could the BB producer with the unitard obsession please work out his fetish on his own time?) We got to follow the players’ trains of thought as they felt out strategies. Take Libra, for instance: ”What could I do? Could I just start counting 60 seconds over and over until an hour ends?” Okay, and what would be plan B, then? That was the only possible strategy, barring shaping a small sundial out of worms and manure.
So, with counting to 3,600 being the only logical way to win this competition, what do they all do? Start bickering with each other so they lose count! And of course, everyone went far over an hour, except for Keesha, who bailed after 21 minutes and therefore won. Bravo, houseguests, you have failed at a battle of counting. But let’s see how you fare next week, when you take on the alphabet! Be careful: that V is elusive!
NEXT: Topical depression
Which brings us to last night’s HOH game, born from today’s headlines: It was an earthquake competition. Fun! Thank God the producers weren’t as topically inclined back in season 2, when the houseguests were playing during 9/11. This time, it was yet another endurance competition in which we see who can stand around the longest. When Survivor does one of these, people fight it out in extreme heat, balancing on painfully precarious stumps. Here, everyone just stands on a ledge that’s as long as their foot, and it occasionally leans forward around 15 degrees. Oh yeah, and a fan blows dust on them. What next in this living hell, schmutz?
So now we wait to see who will win this competition. Until then, we are left to ponder the big questions — something Julie Chen never ever does. Let’s quickly revisit her interview with the houseguests, which is always an exercise in avoiding the interesting. She started out by asking Memphis and Jerry about their blowup. Hmmm…that was actually a good question. Point one for Julie! But then she asked Jerry about his dustup with Michelle, and Jerry said, ”I don’t recall my words with Michelle. What were they?” And then the Chenbot shorted out. This was not the plan! You ask the question posed on the TelePrompTer, the housemate answers it, and you ask the next one! What is this ”interaction” this old man is trying to start? Danger! Danger!
So what was her response? ”Well, there was a screaming match, but we’ll leave it at that.” Leave it at that? You’re the one who brought it up, Julie! And when Jerry remembered, and said, ”I had four of them after me, it was survival,” Chen cut him off, saying, ”I got it. Moving on…” and then asked Renny about her birthday. Phew, on to the hard questions! I imagine that if Julie Chen had ever landed an interview with Lee Harvey Oswald, it would have gone something like this:
Chen: Mr. Oswald, why did you shoot President Kennedy?
Oswald: You’re assuming I did. Why do you assume that?
Chen: I…I just…Some say you did.
Oswald: I didn’t, but I know who did, and I have proof.
Chen: Thanks but no thanks, moving on.
Oswald: But this is the answer to one of the great mysteries of our country!
Chen: Please, I got it. Now, you were famously seen in a book depository. What’s your favorite novel?
Oswald: Ohhh, Julie, why do you always have to pick on me? I gotta go with Bridges of Madison County!
Chen: Ha ha ha! Thanks for your time, Lee.