Social Justice

“James—playin’ an excellent social game in my opinion.”—Paulie

Whenever we talk about Big Brother, the term social game inevitably comes up. Sometimes House of Mirrors even gives out an award for best social game. But are we on the same page here? How are we defining “social game”?  

My understanding of social game differs wildly from whatever it is that Paulie is on about. As I see it, the game in social game connotes strategy and influence. It connotes an awareness of the various social groups in the house and one’s own place among those groups.

James easily has the worst social game in the Final Three. But you don't have to take my word for it. Observe: 

Tuesday, September 13th. The feeds have returned from the Cover Your Bases Veto competition. Corey anxiously sits up in bed beside Nicole. No sleep tonight. No way. Not until he knows who goes. Himself or Nicole? James has been incredibly cagey about his intentions, but Corey has to try again. He has to obtain a concrete response from James. 

“James, I mean, if you're scared to say it to me, that’s fine. I mean, are you voting me out?” 

“Dude no. I’m not scared to say it to you. it’s just, it’s just, it’s just—“ 

I know. I can tell you’re just struggling with it and it’s OK, if you—I mean, if you are, that’s, I mean, that’s fine. I mean, Paul’s throwing you a lifeline, and if you gotta do what he’s gotta do . . . ” 

“No, it’s, dude, I, it’s not that. it’s just that I’m, I’m—you’re asking me to vote out two, two of the people that I like. And you’re just, like, you‘re telling me to pick.” 

I know. But like, are you leaning a certain way? Like, do you have your mind made up at all?” 

“Well, I mean, honestly I, I feel like what you sayin’, like Paul is leaning towards you. That’s what I feel.” 

“Do you feel that you’re going to vote me out?” 

“If, if he wants, if he, if he’s gonna ask me to do that, then, I mean, that’s just something I’m going to have to do, I mean, you know. Like, if he’s keeping me in the game, I can’t fuck him over, you know. And if he doesn’t use the veto, I have to vote somebody out. But. I mean.” 


This is the one week in Big Brother where the HOH has no power. The Final Four is all about Veto, and since Paul also won Veto, that leaves James in total control. Yet James wants Corey to believe that he has consigned this all-powerful vote to Paul. If this is strategy, I fail to see any benefit here. All I see is Corey's exasperation from having to endure the craven way that James plays Big Brother.

So Corey goes up to Paul’s HOH room.  

“I don’t wanna keep you guys in the dark. I don’t wanna blindside you. . . . If [James’s] gonna say it’s my decision, then I’ll be the one to talk to you guys in the face because I care about you.”—Paul  

Paul on the other hand has no qualms telling Corey unequivocally that he is sending him home because he thinks he is the best competitor in the house. “Bro, you’re a beast, bro,” says Paul. “You’re a beast. You’re a fuckin’ beast.” Paul uses words like “respect” and sensitively peppers in the occasional joke for levity. He is speaking Corey’s language. 

Corey reacts warmly, touched almost. Paul is telling Corey that he wants him out, and Corey looks pleased! They’re trading back jokes up there!  

This is what a good social game looks like. 

But take another look at the Paulie quote. He didn’t say that Paul was playing an excellent social game. He said James was. He also went on to deservedly compliment the gameplay of his other friends, Nicole and Corey. Not a word was spoken in reference to Your Boy.[1] 

So I have to question: Are houseguests twisting the definition of social game to disguise an otherwise personal revenge vote? When Paulie says that James has played an excellent social game, is he really just saying that James never wronged him whereas Paul did?  

This isn’t uncommon. It’s the rationale for why Dan Gheesling lost 6-1 to a dude who regularly threw tantrums and taunted other houseguests. One simply utters that sacred incantation, social game, and presto, any intimations of the jury being bitter evaporate into the ether. No questions asked. Their verdict has instant credibility. 

But don’t be so quick to believe it. Sometimes social game does not mean social game. Sometimes social game means bitter jury.

What will it mean this year?


End of the Season Awards

Champion of the Live Feeds: Frank

Honorable Mention: Bridgette

Best Diary Room Sessions: Da’Vonne

Honorable Mention: Paul

Best Competitor: Victor

Best Social Game: Paul

Honorable Mention: Corey

Best Songwriter: Bridgette

Best Storage Room Celebratory Game: Nicole and Corey

Mascot of the Season: Mr. Jenkins

Best Catchphrase: Pissed (Paul)

Honorable Mentions: Deehay (Paul), Never cared (Paul)

Best Alliance Name: The Spy Girls (Bridgette, Bronte, and Natalie)

Honorable Mention: The Island of Misfit Toys (Frank, Bridgette, and Tiffany)

Best Nickname: Big Meech (Michelle)

Honorable Mention: The Puerto Rican Sensation (Victor)

Best Memory Wall Photo: Paul

Best Piece of Apparel: Bridgette’s denim jacket

Honorable Mention: Nicole’s cat dress

Best Houseguest Shout-Out: “Shout out to Obama.”—Zakiyah

Honorable Mention: “And Michelle, one of the flyest First Ladies to ever, ever, grace the White House.”—Da’Vonne

The Daniele Donato “Awkward” Award: Bronte’s Battle Back entrance

Honorable Mention: Paulie applauding himself after confrontation with Natalie in HOH room

Best Live Feed Update: Michelle says her breath stinks before complaining about London being haunted. NT 09/01/16 01:48 PM—HumanFraility


Now That’s What I Call Out of Context Quotes Volume 3

Bridgette: “I forgot my own birthday again!”

Paul: “I put peanut butter on my dogs’ noses all the time.”

Frank: “Can somebody drone me in a pizza, please?”

Jozea: “I read faces. And I’m always right.”

Natalie: “I love the feeling of cottage cheese.”

Paulie: “I hear ear is good protein.”

Bridgette: “Lord of the Rings is my jam.”

Bridgette: “Harry Potter’s the shit!”

Bridgette: “Kirby’s a badass.”

Da’Vonne: “I had a dream about the damn Babadook.”

Jozea: “What I’m good at—I’m good at a lot of things . . .”

Paulie: “[S]ince girls have boobs and a butt type thing . . .”

Paul: “You guys wanna snort paprika and see what happens?”

Frank: “Everybody at home, if you wanna be friends with me, just go to Check it out, and, um, fill out an application. I’m sorry the waiting list is long if you do get approved. Chances are you will not be approved.”

Corey: “I love Hamburger Helper.”

Corey: “I love tennis shoes!” 

Paul: “That cornbeef hash smells like cornbeef ass.”

Natalie: "Shia LaBeouf is so hot. He's the hottest guy on the planet. I've been crushing on him since Even Stevens."

Michelle: “. . . I can’t handle my emotions sometimes.”

Jozea: “Look, we own the fucking house. Why should we be scared to even announce it? We own the house. Bitch fuck wid it, you get out. That is it. Point blank period. The best team ever—we own the house. What? What?”

Tiffany: “Is the Real World still on?”

James: “Alabama has the nicest rest stations.”

Bridgette: “I had the biggest crush on John Lennon. I cried when I found out he was already dead.”

Michelle: “The bars I go to—people get fingered on the floor.”


[1] This could just be Big Brother’s edit.