Sunday, January 15, 2006

Celebrity Big Brother (again)

I feel I should first apologise for perpertrating yet more CBB commentary, after such heavyweight contributions as this one by Kathryn Flett in the Observer on BB as a virus and Oliver James' dissection of the mental states of both viewers and viewed in the Independent. However, it does seem to me that Germaine Greer is being just a touch hypocritical in choosing (one assumes against pecuniary recompense) to appear on Big Brother's Big Mouth to comment on the inadequacies of the current housemates. This comes after her attempted demolition job on the entire format (and particularly the unhealthy state of the house) after her peremptory departure last year. Greer's entry on Wikipedia (scroll down to "Recent Events in her life" makes a telling comment which, if correct, rather undermines her capacity to comment upon the publicity-seeking antics of others:

"She walked out of the show after five days inside the "Big Brother house", citing the psychological cruelty and bullying of the show's producers, the dirt of the house, and the publicity-seeking behavior of her fellow contestants. It was widely expected that she would do exactly such a thing as a means of reviving her career to a new generation indifferent to her and her politics."

I'll refrain, even so, from comment on whether or not Greer should now be effectively approving of the continuation of the Big Brother format by appearing on Endemol's programmes (and whether she is humiliating herself further by doing so - she appeared yesterday with captions which read various "feminist icon" and "couldn't hack it", and concentrate on the content of her commentary instead. Greer's main contribution during her appearance on Saturday's BBBM was to compare George Galloway with Saddam Hussein with an argument something along the following lines (I paraphrase, of course):

"Some people in Iraq liked life under SH, and regret his passing. That was because they were being controlled. GG is seeking to control and bully the other housemates by taking control and organising people. It's the basically the same phenomenon."

Forgive me, but I would have thought that most of the people who approved of Iraq under SH did so because they had power to bully too (and indeed do much worse than that). There are those who doubtless regret the passing of the "order" that SH's regime gave to their lives, and who regret the arrival of the chaos associated with the invasion, the war and the insurgency. They may of course also regret the resurgence of religious politics in postwar Iraq. But these are completely different types of view about the past and the present regimes, and effectively conflating the two makes such a facile comparison with GG's conduct on CBB, which he has shown a remarkable propensity to "play the game".

I guess the thing that bothers the political establishment in the UK over the GG and CBB affair is that since he has survived eviction by public vote once, he may now survive until the very final vote, thus extending the period of embarassment associated with his regular appearance on TV screens (and very compelling TV it all is too!).


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