But the remaining CBS roommates may be even more evil, says Josh Wolk

By Josh Wolk
July 17, 2001 at 12:00 PM EDT
Big Brother: Tony Esparza/CBS
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”Big Brother”’s knife guy denies making threats

Justin is gone from the ”Big Brother 2” house, taking his love of knives and apparent hatred of women with him. And yet, while his absence should give the house a feeling of safety, it’s an even more dangerous place than ever. For a house full of people who walk around shirtless, many of them walk around cloaked in a malice that’s just as destructive as — as they say in Bayonne — a beatin’.

The CBS reality show was right to finally yank Justin. Even if Krista was gigglingly accepting of his offer to kill her (and there’s a set of issues the EW.com server doesn’t have room to address), it was another sign that the morality switch in Justin’s brain is permanently on the fritz. In a montage of malevolence, we not only relived the infamous ”stealing of Kent’s pillow” moment — which, with its soft, fluffy point of contention never sounds quite as creepy as it actually was — but also episodes of Justin laughing about punching women in the kidney and giving them black eyes.

And when Justin was served a final warning and promised that he would no longer intimidate his roommates, it was the least convincing repudiation of brutishness since O.J. Simpson’s. His smirk showcased his broken tooth, and the longer he grinned the more convinced I became that the other half of that tooth is still lodged in the jugular vein of the last guy who looked at him funny. It’s a good thing the producers got him out before they had to fish his other tooth out of Bunky’s ribcage.

However, the real question is why the ”Big Brother” producers put him on the show in the first place. This year’s creative team has been so intent on not duplicating last year’s snoozathon that they cast people whose personalities are cartoonishly heightened. Obviously they thought Justin would be a great ”tough guy.” At first he seemed like a pumped-up version of last year’s winner, Eddie, but quickly proved to be a taller version of Joe Pesci’s character in ”Goodfellas.”

CBS has insisted that each housemate went through psychological testing, but I can’t imagine any detailed exam that would have overlooked the fact that Justin is one scary individual. He told Julie Chen that he didn’t threaten, he just used intimidation. (Was THAT the semantic distinction that won over the psychologists? ”Yes, technically, the statement ‘I’ll beat the piss out of you’ IS intimidating, rather than outright threatening, Justin! Welcome to the show!”)

At least with Justin you knew what the threats were. The problem with remaining houseguests Will, Shannon, and Mike is that they are just as destructive, but in a far more insidious way. This ”Big Brother” house is perversely watchable because the evil is so pervasive. Watching these three ego trippers try to manipulate the roommates whom they see as less worthy (read: less attractive) than themselves is like watching your worst high school memories come to life. These three have even dubbed their club ”Chilltown,” a name they no doubt share with thousand of cheerleader cliques all across the country.

The shot of Shannon leaning on the insecure Autumn, telling her that they were going to make sure only the ”cool” people were left in the house, promising her she’d would be one of them, was enough to make John ”Pretty in Pink” Hughes cry foul. And the saddest part was watching the beatific expression of deep gratitude wash over Autumn’s face, even if it was only to be personally smeared off later by Shannon. I’m not sure if Autumn is going to make it through this experience with her soul intact; watching the webcam (available for paid viewing on the ”Big Brother” website) is to observe a person constantly on the verge of crumbling. And if Chilltown does succeed in crushing her spirit, it will take a lot longer to heal than a black eye.

What do you think?

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.
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