All Apologies

Does an apology mean anything if the apologizer repeats the same behavior they apologized for? Is not forgiving someone ever justified? Is accepting every apology naïve? And just what does it mean to forgive and not forget? Is that really forgiveness at all?

I don’t know the answers to these queries. But I suppose this is why I watch Big Brother, to explore these sociological quandaries. And let me tell you, after watching this first week of Big Brother 17, I feel like I understand it better already.


Case 1: Jace v. Becky

Becky and Jace are diametrically opposed personalities. The key to understanding Becky is her career as a manager: Becky has a tendency to manage people. She informs us that this been an issue in her life outside of work and has fractured several relationships. Becky’s energy level is muted.

The key to understanding Jace is his penchant for tasty waves and a cool buzz. Jace is a freewheeling goofball. He likes being the center of attention and putting on show for a captive audience. Jace’s energy level is bustling.

So when Jace acts loud and silly around Becky, Becky gets anxious, and Becky will reflexively shush him, a fricative suggesting he take it down a few notches. And after about the third time she does this, Jace starts feeling slighted.

Welcome to Shushgate.

When they finally meet in the storage room to address this seething contretemps, Becky is immediately remorseful. She tells him that this is her problem she needs to work on, and she has no right to manage his behavior. Jace is relieved and admits that he knows he can be obnoxious. They hug and move forward amicably.

Everything is peachy keen until the whole imbroglio happens again, apology, forgiveness, and all. So Becky repeated the same behavior she apologized for initially. But here is why Becky’s apology is still valid: She expressed a desire to correct her behavior, beseeching Jace to point it out if she does it again.

The way that both parties dealt with this redounds to their credit.


Case 2: Jace v. James

James: “I mean, I’m sorry.”

Jace: “You’re not sorry.” 

When Jace asks James for an explanation as to why he backdoored him, James borrows Audrey’s motif and says “multiple people” told him that Jace was gunning for him. This is not true. In fact, it is so egregious it actually insults Jace’s intelligence. Why would Jace target the reigning HOH and tell other houseguests about it prior to the POV ceremony? When Jace confronts James with this logic, James acknowledges that it doesn’t make sense.

James is a bad liar.

He then just chalks it up to Jace’s intimidating competitive prowess: He wouldn’t want to compete against Jace on Battle of the Block.[1] He attempts to frame his backdoor as a sign of respect. But Jace is not buying it. He still feels betrayed. It was James who approached him with the notion of working together, only to lie and humiliate him in an outsize fashion.

Let’s be clear: I think Jace has a point, but he is taking this too personally. I will abide just about any moral transgression if it is an effective game move, so I agree with James when he says that this is the game they signed up for. However, you can’t sustain this trustworthy country boy façade after you betray someone. You can’t apologize to someone while plainly lying about the circumstances of your behavior.

You need to own your move, and until you do that, you’re not sorry. No.


Talk to Her

When gay people are asked about what it was like to come out of the closet, there is typically a point in the story where a family member says something akin to, “Listen, this doesn’t change anything. You are my flesh and blood. I love you no matter what.” It’s a beautiful sentiment, and with the growing acceptance of the gay community, it’s the kind of statement I am accustomed to hearing.[2]

So when Clay asked Audrey about her family’s reaction to her gender, I thought this was a softball, a heartwarming plate of unconditional love conveniently roller-skated to your car window. But then Audrey described her parents as “conservative”, and, with the utterance of that word, I began to get nervous.

“They [her parents] got terrible advice from a psychologist, and the psychologist recommended one of those troubled youth wilderness programs. They had two escorts come, like, take me from my bed in the middle of the night, and I’m thrown in the woods with all these guys—real alcohol abuse problems, drug abuse.”

I did not know what to make of this. Obviously, it is horrific that she was cast away like a reprobate. But what exactly happened here? Did her parents reverse Wild Child her? Just what in the world is a troubled youth wilderness program? Maybe this was the part of the story that Da’Vonne thought Audrey embellished. I mean, come on—troubled youth wilderness program? That totally isn’t a real thing.

Except it is a real thing.

Evidently, troubled youth wilderness programs involve various degrees of hiking, living harmoniously with nature, open communication with oneself and the group, and regimented meals and water. They appear to have a positive effect on most of its participants, but there are questions surrounding the lack of federal oversight. There have additionally been reports of counselor neglect and, in rare cases, participant death.

So we’re thankful that her parents eventually removed their perfectly healthy kid from the program and talked to her. We really needed a happy ending.

[1] Let’s note that Jace competed in one competition and lost.

[2] Frankie Grande gave us this story last year.