Sunday, 1 April 2012

Early Monstaville Appendix IV (2006) Removed from Book

Appendix IV

Shades of Jade

“Predators react to fear.” - Shahbaz in Channel 4's reality TV series Big Brother, May 2006 (he was thrown out, or walked and it was made to look like he was thrown out). I don’t watch Big Brother, although I have seen bits of it in the past (one reason I can’t bear to watch it is I find Davina McCall abhorrent). I just picked up this comment but here is a little background to the situation (too confusing to dwell on, it would appear!):

Big Brother was accused of promoting bullying. “Endemol and C4 had complaints yesterday from the Samaritans and a Mental Health Organisation accusing them of putting a person with mental health problems into the house to give the public and the HM's entertainment at his irrational behaviour.” (A forum member on The viewer who wrote this explains that BB’s editing was designed to make it look like Shahbaz was being bullied. That is, he was put in the house because they knew he was mentally unstable in order to kick-start the show. When he couldn’t cope, as anticipated, they edited it to make him look like a victim. One viewer observes that, “He got kicked out because Endemol realised they'd made a big, big mistake putting him in there. They portray it as him being bullied and then show him leaving with no explanation so you will all swallow their version that it was none of their doing. Don't fall for it. There's no way that man would have gone of his own free will. He was loving it.” Another person adds: “The condemnation of Endemol is universal, for engineering the scenario and exploiting Shahbaz...the fact remains they knowingly put a very damaged individual into the house, to wind the HM's up, whilst doing it themselves and all for our entertainment. A step too far in my estimation.”

The experiment, however, does appear to have succeeded in making the others act like a ‘pack of hyenas,’ bringing out their weakness in relation to someone in a weak position. He was unpopular and another viewer refers to him as ‘whining’ and ‘self-obsessed.’ He was “petulant, insulting, immature, provoking in his facial expressions, tone of voice and choice of language, and body language...and his tricks, all eventually culminated in the HMs behaving so badly, (all this did not happen like just after a few hours of argument but after days of provocation).” Shahbaz’s antics included, “bullying [someone refers to it as ‘flirting’] Glyn, pushing people out so he can be centre of attention, accusing people of being drunk because he was not in charge of a task, deliberately winding people up by talking loudly while others slept, arguing with Imogen (although we didn't see it), Bonnie, Nikki and stealing the food and throwing it outside.” He made a choice not to back off while he still could, after several ‘chances to redeem himself.’

He fell victim to mob rule as the other house mates grouped together to target someone they could not live with. He may have brought it upon himself deliberately for the attention. He is said to have refused to accept their initial attempt to ignore him and this led to increasing frustration over time. The question is, how can people deal with a person who is a nightmare to live within a confined space peacefully but effectively when there is nothing you can do to get away from them because they live in the same house (or next door!)?

Another viewer writes: “He relished being the centre of their (negative) attention” and refers to Shahbaz’s own behaviour as ‘emotional propaganda.’ Someone who went to school with Shahbaz says he was way too irritating and annoying: “that was not an act, he was like that every day for years. There was no talking to him.” Apparently, Shahbaz’s behaviour in the outside world has often provoked physical attacks and wound up many people who managed to overcome the urge. Another post reads: “They couldn't control Shahbaz's behaviour, but they should have been able to control their own.” It is difficult to counter childish behaviour without resorting to similar tactics when initial attempts to act maturely to resolve issues appear to have no effect. It is like a tree with shallow roots: training, strength and discipline are required as well as the wisdom garnered by collective experience which our new, individualistic culture now needs to develop. A wise comment on the website runs: “Every society needs a police force. This year’s HMs as a society are very young (in time spent together not in age). The said police force have to act when others step outside the boundaries of that society. Shahbaz was a repeat offender. Yes the kangaroo court was bad, but all society police forces need time to settle. Britain was terrible in its early days, as is Iraq. You can’t expect the governing forces to get it right straight away. So yes, the HMs reaction may not have been the best, but they were all addressing the fact that Shahbaz's behaviour could not continue to be tolerated.”

Shahbaz was easily able to intimidate and argue with one individual but he disturbed so many people that they would naturally support each other which stripped him of that power. Thus, he became an isolated and vulnerable person against whom pent up aggression was released and power was likewise abused. From another post: “The fact that they could not even push him away or get away from him led to this great build up of frustration. They tried reasoning with him but he wouldn't listen, they tried to ignore him but he continued and so finally, they snapped...Those who watched Big Brain on Monday will have seen his instant mistreatment of people when he entered the house, already forcing people to concentrate on him and pushing people out of the way to do so...From the start of the day, he had shown he wanted confrontation and he would later get it but this time not from one person but the group as a whole. Only then did he realise he could not handle it and was being stupid.”

“The only way I could bear Shahbaz's behaviour was to regard him as a task presented to the others,” writes an astute viewer. “He effectively put these people to the test; and now at least we have their measure. The pressure he put them under stripped them bare. We do know now that Pete possesses a greater moral sensitivity than the rest, but also that he doesn't have the bollocks to oppose the group.” The point is that they did not need to degrade him, to become bullies. Therefore, many people who had hated Shahbaz until that point suddenly felt sorry for him. Another post on the Digital Spy forum: “Most of these people were followers...Vote the nasty leaders out and the group might return to its senses and humanity.” Interesting, since the people behind Big Brother itself appear to be little more than manipulative bullies pushing people to the edge (a social experiment’). Let’s face it, no-one seems to be using these cheap and cheerful reality TV slots to evoke a higher understanding of ourselves as human beings. They are going for excitement (and ratings) at the expense of social progress and we wonder why the values and sense of responsibility in our society are so impaired. Once ‘Shabby’ was gone, Pete’s Tourette’s Syndrome was highlighted and took centre stage.

So, the observation “Predators react to fear” was perhaps something the social misfit/drama queen had heard once and it rang a bell inside him, representing his own predatory demand for attention at the expense of others. Perhaps it was a good experience for him to be on the receiving end. Shahbaz’s loud, over-confident, disruptive, anti-social behaviour appears to hae brought out negativity in the others. One person in the forum likens the saga to Lord of the Flies, to which someone responds: “Spot on! I hadn't made the connection. ‘Shabby’ was really very effective at drawing them all out - exposing their nasty sides. There's nothing worse than a group of people congratulating each other for their nastiness.” When people’s patience is tested that much and finally snap, however, an extreme reaction may be unavoidable. ‘What goes around comes around,’ as one person reminds us.

I have gone through half the posts on this forum thread and then jumped to the end where I found a few of relatively conclusive posts. “Shabaz was an aggravating attention seeker,” says one. “However, the pack bullying mentality was disturbing and painful to watch. No one deserves to be bullied the way he was.” Clearly, this was an opportunity to observe both individual and group intimidation with one throw of the dice. “It is no wonder that we have anti social behaviour in our society if people think Shabaz should have been given yet another chance. He had bullied people in the house and behaved in an anti social way, ignoring other people. They, the house society, tackled the problem. He openly admitted that he was playing games, playing a part but when he was faced with a large group as oppose to one person or a smaller number, he realised he was playing way out of his depth,” explains another BB viewer. Someone points out that a couple of house mates relished the chance to retaliate after having been provoked themselves.

Another post: “Sorry but this is all you honestly think they set out from the start to banish him? No! When he left, they all sat there thinking $.h...has it really come to that...because none of them wanted to have that situation. Every single one of them, even Sezer (the day after they'd argued) attempted to get this guy to integrate with them. After many attempts, it became the natural human reaction of washing their hands of him...what else could they do. And after so many times, why should they try any more with him? Then the atmosphere turned sour and the guy brought his own downfall onto himself. Not one of them left in there wanted to see that situation develop and then it snowballs. As I’ve said already, they did in the end go too far when they stole his clothes, but all in all he'd been bullying others with his knack of creating arguments (like with Nikki, who nearly innocently through his juice away) then created a needless argument out of it. Also, like was pointed out, if he'd been heterosexual and touching woman the way he was touching Glyn when he didn't want to be touched, he would been hauled over the coals for sexual harassment. I think some people have been blinded by last night’s well edited show. The guy got into a situation which he provoked and created himself. He might have been unaware of it at first, but with the numerous attempts by Dawn, Pete and a few others to help him integrate there is only so much sympathy one can give. And no well edited clips will change my opinion on that.” Someone points out that Shahbaz’s antagonistic attitude may well be a defence mechanism to difficulties earlier in life. If we are not equipped to handle such individuals, well, then we can only try things and learn from our mistakes and from other people’s experiences. It has taken me ten years to find a way to deal with my neighbours and it is by no means conclusively successful! As one BB fan points out, it is easy to rant about the house mates’ actions without having ever lived with the man. Finally, one viewer suggests that the only positive thing that resulted from the showdown was that Pete won the game. (

The discussion touches on other cases of bullying in Big Brother. “Sophie and Sam are the only ones to have been truly bullied,” explains someone in another thread. “Sam's experience at the hands of the awful [including jealous] Lesley being the worst.” And: “Sophie didn't steal the food and hide it. Sophie was not an anti social antagonistic deluded ego manic.” In other words, Shabhaz brought it upon himself; she didn’t. Sam's ordeal is said to have lasted a lot longer. Another person explains that the fact that she later “slit her wrists in a suicide attempt strongly suggests that she should never have been in the house and that BB exploited a very vulnerable person. I’m still angry at Endemol’s decision not to intervene on the second Monday of the show when Sam was the victim of classic group bullying led by Derek, Craig and Lesley.” ( Sounds like a terrible series what with Derek being described unanimously as the most “fake and loathsome HM ever.” One post on this thread explains: “Derek Laud was possibly the most sadistic BB bully but he survived multiple eviction battles (Derek’s appearances on the news channels condemning Jades bullying was ironic but really annoyed me as it was such a perversion of the truth). The public only dislike bullying if they like the victim and this is why Shilpa had positively biased edits and Sam had negatively biased edits. If the next victim of bullying is not someone who BB think they can create a winner out of then they will downplay the bullying and evict the victim as quickly as possible.”

“What was done to Jodie Marsh was far, far worse IMO... she tried to compromise, she tried to communicate?” says another viewer (returning to the Shahbaz thread). At the other end of the scale, we had a glamorous, well-brought-up Indian lady contrasted with ‘Bermondsey-born big mouth’ Jade Goody. Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty demonstrated a mature, confident loving way in which people can conduct themselves during confrontation if they so choose. She maintained her dignity and integrity throughout her ordeal and put such behaviour to shame for viewers to see the difference between weakness and strength, ugliness and beauty, oppressive nastiness and true power (or, hatred and love), selfishness and generosity. No doubt there are numerous examples of insensitive people behaving loudly and aggressively in Big Brother, using other people to gang up and overpower their victim, to cause someone else misery and enjoy their pain so they can feel better about themselves by bringing a more sensitive, kind and sincere person with more maturity and depth of feeling down.”

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” - George Eliot.