Friday, July 07, 2006

Big Brother, the Christian Right, and Jamie’s hardon

Two little-known, albeit difficult to verify, facts re last weekend’s “Big Brother” controversy:

(1) Housemate “Jamie” is a fundamentalist Christian

(2) Shortly prior to the axeing of “Big Brother – Adults Only”, an image of Jamie’s erect (at the very least, semi-erect) penis was broadcast on the show

Normally, above "fact one" would be none of my business. But given the mountain of media humbug over the axeing of BB-AO, and then the near-axeing of the whole shebang, I believe the connections between the two above facts make them both valid public-interest matters.

First connection: Why was “Big Brother – Adults Only” axed?

According to Barnaby Joyce, the objectionable tipping-points for taking BB-AO off the air were (this list may not exhaustive):

- the unisex, communal shower for all housemates (the specifics of this are from memory; can’t find a link)

- a shot of a female housemate sitting on the toilet, apparently defecating

- a shot of two (I’m guessing) housemates having “simulated anal sex”

Re the last item in this ersatz dossier, Barnaby Joyce asks: “Tell me how I explain that to my daughter” (same URL)*. Umm, Barnaby, if she’s old enough (15+) to be watching BB-AO, then I reckon she’s old enough to get a lesson on what (some) gay guys do (and even some straights do too, I hear).

But that’s by-the-by, sort of. The main point from Joyce dossier is, I think, it’s lameness. None of the three items is particularly shocking. I’m assuming that the second one showed no detail from below, while the first one is laughable. Meanwhile, Joyce’s concerns in the last item reek of homophobia. (If he’s not homophobic, then the “anal” in “simulated anal sex” is redundant.)

Most tellingly, though, is that a shot of a man’s erect penis plainly trumps the Joyce dossier, when it comes to both broadcasting rules and common-sense matters of taste.

Why then did Joyce try, and succeed, in having BB-AO sent down over the equivalent of a few parking fines, when there was a "murder" scene in front of his eyes? I really don’t know, but I’d hazard a guess that Jamie’s fundamentalist Christianity was a factor, along with the axeing's clincher-reason needing to contain a sort of gay-hate banner-ad as part of it. That is, the “parking fines” approach was promising because it was GAY-coloured, and the “murder” approach would undesirably spotlight a good Christian boy’s donger. (Here, I do have some sympathy for the guy – even if Jamie had a “say” over his erection, he certainly didn’t over its broadcast.)

Strange – but the Christian Right plainly did get its way. Jamie’s donger stayed off the front page, and gay men got a “Pervert!” kick to the head as part of the deal, to boot. Meanwhile, the precedent thereby established – that an erect-penis image is now okay to be broadcast – has been filed away for another day. (Presumably, the Christian Right is hoping that when such next inevitably, ahem, rears its head, there’ll again be a nearby, convenient GAY goat named “Scape”).

Second connection: was the Christian Right behind the lightning “turkey-slap” Internet campaign?

I hinted as much the other day, and am still convinced of it, albeit such is again difficult (or probably impossible, in this case) to verify. But to start with some indisputable facts: the offending Internet live-stream was seen by 150 people (today’s “Crikey” newsletter) at 4.30 a.m. on Saturday; only hours later it was huge.

How so? An innocent explanation would be that feminist/anti-rape-activist forces were behind the story's breakneck growth. Possibly, but I think such a campaign still would have taken days, not hours, even if there were well-oiled networks in place from the outset.

My strong hunch is that the forces involved must have been both actively trolling, and on red-hot standby, in the lead-up to them finding their scalp at 4.30 a.m. on Saturday. Given the Christian Right’s earlier success in claiming the scalp of BB-AO, it is highly-likely that they – and not more appropriate “plaintiffs” such as anti-rape-activists – were the instrumental trolls.

In summary, serious concerns exist with how the Christian Right have so successfully – and almost invisibly – twice manipulated a public-morality issue into becoming big news. Most worrying of all is that they are doing so in attack-, not defence-mode. “Big Brother” has been particularly “gay” in 2006, and so it is no accident that the Christian Right have this year been so determined to meticulously bludgeon it to death, no holds or tactics barred.

* QV: "Whenever you complain, you're instructed to patrol the television, to stop the kids from watching it," remarks Joyce, a father of four. "So I have to turn into a policeman because you're irresponsible? What a cop-out."

Jamie's hard on was a semi, not a full stiffy. I believe it was below the mandatory 45 degree angle.
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