Some insights into detached-from-reality television. We swear it's worth the read.
Do you ever watch the Big Brother houseguests explaining strategy or rationalizing their own backstabbing and think, "They're so full of it! They're so deluded they even believe themselves!"? Sure you do. But have you written down those thoughts and added detail in the form of a bulleted list, such that other people can read about them? I have. Here are my thoughts on some (but not all) of the most common delusions among Big Brother houseguests:
- Player X is a threat to win, so must be evicted.
It is an easy rationale to latch on to, because it allows a player to deny or cover up more personal reasons for wanting to target another player, but it's pretty much a nonsense argument. With few exceptions, the same rationale is applied practically every week, such that if it were truly logical, then it would mean all the top contenders get eliminated first, leaving only the people who can't win the game to continue on. That's non-sensical, because it would mean all the people who supposedly had no chance to win are left behind as the only players with a chance to win.
- If we could just evict Player X, it would be so fun around here.
Houseguests often seem to forget that once the stress of this week's nomination, veto, and eviction are behind them, that they will have to repeat the process again with no break in between. In their happy make-believe mind, they imagine a week where they and their friends nominate their evil enemies, and no one tries to make deals or save themselves, so they can just enjoy some well-deserved rest and recreation for a change.
- Because of our friendship/bond/trust, we will never turn on each other.
The only way this can be remotely true is if a strong two-person alliance survives until the final pair. In any alliance bigger than two people, however, it is unavoidable that at some point, no matter how tall the stack of Bibles that everyone swore on, they will have to target people within their own alliance. It's even likely within 2-way alliances, that eventually one or both in the pair will attempt to shift the crosshairs just a little toward their buddy if it makes the difference between facing eviction themselves, or saving their own butt.
- When you watch the tapes, you'll see I've really been honest/nice/hygienic the entire time.
First, the "tapes" would hardly ever support the image each houseguest has (or wants to project) if him- or herself. Second, I don't believe that the producers hand over raw footage to the houseguests at the end of the production, so if they get anything, it would just be copies of the broadcast episodes, which are notoriously unreliable for giving the whole story. Thirdly, even if they got the raw footage, I can't imagine any houseguest, now that they're finally done with it, being in the mood to spend the next few months poring over every detail of what they just did, so they can have the fun of re-living every mistake they made, and finally satisfy that challenge from some other houseguest to "watch the tapes" and see whether they were telling the truth or not. Sounds fun.
- A reliable way to gauge someone's honesty is if they can look you in the eye while saying something, or if they swear on the Bible, or their life, or their mother, or their children, or by Jove himself.
Do you know why lie detector machines were invented? Because the eye detector method proved to be highly unreliable. Demanding a sworn oath in this game is about as reliable as saying, "Do you promise?" and getting a "Yes, I promise," in return. All assertions of truth-telling should be suspect in this game, no matter how the assertion was made. When it comes to the Bible, if you find it offensive that someone could swear on it and then lie on game-related matters, then don't be so crass as to solicit that Bible oath for a discussion that boils down to two (or more) people trying to convince each other of their integrity to have a better shot at $500,000 (or more).
- My broken promises, half-truths, and lies are justified by game developments and don't reflect on my integrity, but when Player X does it, he/she is an evil, lying, shady, no-integrity mo-fo.
Pick two houseguests who lied to each other, and each will be convinced, and try to convince others, that they only did so because the other one started it. There is little evidence that anyone spends much time walking a mile in anyone else's moccasins, but frequent examples of complaining about how uncomfortable their own moccasins are and bemoaning the fact that no one else cares or understands. (E.g., "You don't know what it's like until you're on the block"; "You'll see what I mean if you're ever HOH"; "You don't understand until you're in here without your partner")
- I can play this game without lying.
Lots try, and even delude themselves into thinking that they're succeeding, but it's pretty much impossible to keep it up. For one thing, it is inevitable that people you don't like or don't want to share information with will ask you what you know, and since you can't always pretend to be distracted by a shiny object and ignore them, you'll eventually have to tell them something, and it's unlikely to be entirely truthful. For another, most people have several different promises going at any given time (like, "I'll never nominate you"), and while some promises can coexist for a while, they will eventually come into conflict requiring one or more to be broken.
- We can win the next HOH/POV competition because they suck.
This delusion might have a smidgeon of truth if the Houseguests knew the nature of the upcoming competition and had some basis for accurately assessing their opponents' strengths and weaknesses for that kind of competition, but if experience has shown anything, it's that *anybody* can win these things. The ever-changing mix of strength, intellect, and luck make it impossible to reliably predict which HG or alliance will win. To the extent people make "correct" predictions, it's not much different from "predicting" the roll of a die.
- Player X wants us out, so we should target him/her.
This is a transparent way of saying, "I'm convinced Player X wants *me* out, so I want you to help me target him/her." It's one of those delusions nearly everyone can spot when they're on the receiving end, but think they're being sly and subtle when they use this argument to persuade others.
- I deserve to win. / America loves me. / I'm gonna be on Letterman. / I'm not a smoker.