It was with a trembling hand that I plugged my paint-splattered coaxial cable into my eleven-year-old television last night. Season thirteen of Big Brother was coming to an end, and with it, my reason for living.
In an extended preamble, the CBS network commands us to recollect “a summer of outrageous behavior [their montage: people falling on their faces], humor [Jordan in her ‘humilitard’], heartbreak [Rachel sobbing], and confrontation [Cassi’s immortal kiss-off to Rachel].”
Ever deferential, I recollect — and swallow an entire beer with due haste, so as to numb the pain.
Rachel won the first leg of the dizzying HOH competition after being spun in yellow goo and splattered with paint for 40 minutes. (Porsche: “I don’t want to swim in my throw-up, so it’s like a Catch-22!” Paging Joseph Heller: Your signature work has become reality-show shorthand; please don’t let your grave-spinning blow the sides off your coffin.)
RE: The yellow goo and paint-splattering: Never let it be said that the BB producers don’t hold the contestants in obvious contempt — perhaps because the contestants’ willingness to humiliate themselves for money reminds the producers of their own compromised ideals (what kind of person, after all, works for a show like this?).
I hereby recommit to my goal of becoming a Hollywood superstar so I can enjoy the pleasure of throwing my drink in the face of a BB producer at Ron Howard’s Christmas party; will somebody please cast me in Transformers 4: Revenge of the Irredeemable Noisiness?
The second part of the tripartite HOH competition involves an underwater maze with former contestants’ disembodied faces! Perhaps this is a last-ditch attempt by the producers to redeem themselves by inoculating American couch potatoes to the Borges aesthetic?
Porsche beats Adam and earns the right to face off against Rachel in the final competition.
(Julie Chen, the wife of CBS president Les Moonves, is having trouble reading the TelePrompTer this evening; her stumbling mispronunciations are distracting me from the vital information she’s trying to convey.)
In the Jury House, the evicted houseguests size up the remaining three contestants. Their analyses are contradictory and confusing. Kalia and Jeff argue and yell at each other, as a hidden trap door in a hole under the floor of my opinion of Jeff opens and he sinks to lower depths of my contempt, which is impotent.
I’m not sure that’s grammatically (or architecturally) correct — the point is, I can’t stand the guy. And I’m impotent. (JOKE; I AM BEWILDERINGLY FERTILE.)
In the final third of the interminable HOH competition, Porsche and Rachel answer questions about the other houseguests. Is BB the most self-reflexive show in American history? No matter: The fact that garbage smells like garbage and thereby refers to garbage doesn’t make it any less garbage-y.
Rachel wins the contest. She is HOH. She shudders and cries. I yawn with contempt, and, while my mouth is thus distracted, empty another beer into it.
Rachel evicts Adam — but not before delivering an emotional testimonial about how hard she (Rachel) has fought, and reminding America that her fiancé was evicted twice.
(I must note with embarrassment that I’m surprised and impressed that Rachel honored her “final two” agreement with Porsche.)
Adam leaves the house with a series of inane heavy-metal roars. It’s enough to make me second-guess my affection for She Said Destroy and Burning Witch.
(Seriously, this is an amazing song.)
All the recently evicted houseguests assemble in the studio to cast their votes for the winner of the show. But first, they ask Porsche and Rachel a series of probing questions.
Brendon asks Rachel (on behalf of the houseguests) why she should be rewarded for her ugly gameplay. She reminds everyone that she’s had a target on her back since day one, and has done nothing “but fight and compete” and “put her heart on their line” [sic ad infinitum].
Jordan asks Porsche why she deserves half a million dollars, when all she did was “wear a bikini and cook.” Porsche says she got along with everyone and “did not just hang around in a bikini.” (I remain fascinated by Jordan and Porsche’s iteration of the Madonna-Whore dyad; why does Jordan feel entitled to criticize Porsche’s part in this centuries-old role-play? Is it because it underscores Jordan’s own charade?)
The rest of the questions involve the proper response to the situation of a 30-year-old man who declines to buy health insurance and falls into a coma: Should he be left to die? The crowd roars its approval as Julie Chen wheels out a comatose young man and pulls his plug as the houseguests chant passages from Atlas Shrugged and Tom Cruise stumbles around in a freaky mask. (JOKE)
Rachel and Porsche plead their case to the jury. Rachel mentions the heretofore unknown fact that she’s “had a target on her back the entire season” — yet, in spite of this onerous burden, managed to “play her heart out.”
I hope when Rachel and Brendon get married in a black mass they write their own vows so she can once again mention that she’s had a target on her back and played her heart out.
While we wait for the houseguests to vote, I thought it would be instructive to list some of the requirements on the application for the next season of BB. (So sue me, I thought about applying.)
- "If you are selected by the Producers for an interview in the semifinals, you must be willing to travel at your own expense to be interviewed at a time to be scheduled by the Producers The Producers reserve the right to add, cancel and/or substitute other cities as interview locations "
- "You must be willing to live in the Big Brother house located in Los Angeles for approximately 100 days on such dates to be determined by Producers in their sole discretion with approximately a dozen strangers where you will have little or no privacy "
- "The Producers are looking for a dynamic group of individuals who are articulate, interesting and exhibit enthusiasm for the project" (recapper note: “project?” What is this, Soylent Green?) " as well as a willingness to share their most private thoughts in an open forum of strangers."
- "Tell us who you are and why you would make the ultimate housemate on Big Brother. Be creative!" (“My name is David Rees; I recapped your piece-of-shit show for months and I loathe everything about it. I’m an artisanal pencil sharpener and I look good in a bikini while covered in goo. Pick me!”)
The houseguests who were eliminated earlier in the season are herded onto the set. Evel Dick, saggily resplendent in black nail polish and flaccid bowling shirt, criticizes his daughter for destroying his precious “veterans alliance.” Daniele says she “wanted to work with the people she actually cared about.” This makes me love Daniele!
The ever-incandescent Cassi compliments Adam for his cuteness and offers cynical praise for Shelly’s gameplay. Jeff chimes in, and I shudder to realize how similar his haircut is to mine. Have I become the man I loathe most? I must remember to sue my barber.
My favorite contestant, Dominic, says nothing, and his silent invocation of the seventh proposition of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus further convinces me that my destiny is to gay-marry him and travel the world throwing eggs at heartless titans of industry while rocking a faux-hawk.
Here’s my final list of BB contestants, in order of preference:
14. Evel Dick
After a bunch of foofaraw the Jury House’s votes are revealed.
The die is cast:
Rachel wins Big Brother.
I chug another beer as my thoughts turn to the immortal words of Yeats:
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
But that’s not all! America voted on their favorite houseguest. The prize? Twenty-five-thousand dollars. The winner? Jeff.
Let’s not forget that Shelly’s family received death threats from Jeff’s fans after she voted against him.
Let’s also not forget that Jeff thinks that because Dumbledore is gay, it’s inappropriate for him to teach at Hogwarts.
Jeff. Fucking Jeff.
Are you kidding me, America? If it’s really so important to you that I emigrate to Canada, just tell me they serve state-subsidized nachos and kale chips on every corner and I’ll be on the next barge north, I promise.
This is a public-service announcement to Jeff: I will meet you anywhere in America and physically fight you. I may not be muscular, but I’m from North Carolina — Tar Heels can scrap, son. I will step to your bullying, homophobic ass without batting an eyelash.
And I will use your soul patch to wipe my chin after I eat a soup made of your tears.
I end my hopeless reverie just in time to see Julie Chen turn to the camera with her robotic rictus grin and tell us the season is concluded, instructing us all to watch Rachel’s interview tomorrow afternoon on The Talk, another CBS show hosted by this talentless cyborg because she’s married to the president of CBS.
Boy! I’m acting like “Grumpy McGrumpster” right now. Let me endeavor to explain:
Friends, I was a political cartoonist for eight years starting shortly after 9/11. I covered the serial deceptions of a corrupt administration; the catastrophic results of ill-advised military invasions; and the manifold horrors of a world riven by disease, torture, genocide, and the murder of empathy by our body politic.
But I never considered myself a cynic until I watched Big Brother.
And so I offer sour congratulations to the BB producers (and here I feel compelled to mention them by name: Allison Grodner; Rich Meehan; Curtis Colden; Jerry D’Alessandro; Chris Roach [perfect!]; Don Wollman; Michael O’Sullivan).
Why do I offer congratulations? Because these producers actually did what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the odiously mustachioed Thomas Friedman couldn’t do: They made me despair for my country.
For Rachel’s constant aggrievement, entitlement, and catastrophic self-regard — and her subsequent material reward for said behavior — reminds me of nothing so much as America’s financial services industry, whose poisonous influence and psychological stranglehold on our once-great nation has nearly brought it to its knees.
Let me lighten the mood and devote my closing remarks to those readers whose encouragement has buoyed me during these dark days of recapping. I will not soon forget your kind words, and if you ever find me lurking in the dark corner of your local dive, muttering into my beer about a rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem, I will buy you a drink.
And so, readers, we walk out of the BB house together with our heads held high as our time together draws to a close.
I leave you, once again, with the song that's celebration of authentic community has comforted me during the past eleven weeks; I pray its message of hardscrabble optimism will endow you with some of the delicate tendrils of hope I have enjoyed while listening to it.
Ladies and gentlemen, “My Block” by Scarface:
Let us go forth to love and serve the better angels of our nature, while endeavoring to remember these lyrics:
“Everybody’s business ain’t your business.”
“What’s going on in this house stayin’ here, comprende?”
“We make the impossible look easy”
Fuck Big Brother.