I realise the futility of over-analysing a subject like Celebrity Big Brother.
Time spent drilling down into the details of Biggins’ ejection for objectionable comments, considering the propriety of flashing one’s nips at a member of the Loose Women cast or spending more than seven seconds wondering what Frankie is packing in his overstuffed pants, is time wasted. Even if definitive conclusions are reached, does it contribute to the greater good of humanity?
I’m leaning towards no.
That said, the people imprisoned within CBB’s gold plated showhome are still people. Their behaviours are human behaviours; reflections of experiences we’ve all had. They might all be narcissistic to the point of combustion but a lot of people are. And very occasionally, stuff happens in there that’s reflective enough of real life that should be examined by all of us.
Nazi jokes aren’t funny. And given the controversies Big Brother has experienced in recent years, the show’s producers are probably wise to hurl Biggins over the wall for his as yet unspecified comments to Katie Waissel, before the speculation gets completely out of hand.
But while Biggins is hauled over the Jigsaw-esque mantrap that is the British press, Stephen Bear remains inside, striding confidently through ‘Banter’, over the fence marked ‘Pushing it a bit’ and directly into, well, let’s call it as we see it, shall we?
A town called ‘Bully’.
It’s a bold accusation, but if you’ve sat through hours of his ‘jokes’, ‘pranks’ and ‘I’m just having a bit of fun with you, mate, calm down,’ you’ll probably have drawn the same parallel. Not allowing people to offer a point of view, dominating conversations by shouting and flailing body parts and refusing point blank to engage with an issue in favour of belittling less vocal members of the group is bullying as I understand it.
Social media homed in on the issue when Bear, Heavy D and cheerleader in chief Lewis Bloor responded to James Whale’s polite request for the group to stop invading his personal space while he was cooking in the kitchen. Instead of doing so, or backing off, they hooted, persisted in invading his personal space and continued to sing “I’m horny,” until James was sufficiently wound up to dump a bag of coffee over Bear’s head.
It was a nadir. As Lewis himself succinctly put it when discussing another matter: “Don’t argue with an idiot. They’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
But Bear remains. And the message for every kid, every adult, everyone who has experienced bullying or is experiencing bullying is that there are harsh consequences if you make a joke in bad taste, but receive virtually laughable lectures about being a bit naughty if you conduct your campaign of terror with a cheeky grin and an arm round the shoulder.
James Whale is world weary enough to see their behaviour in context and deal with it accordingly. A lot of people aren’t and this tacit acceptance of behaviour capable of destroying self-confidence and belief by a television station could be sufficient to ruin any hope of survival they’re clinging on to.
There’s an opportunity for Channel 5 to draw a line here. Demonstrate that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable.
Sadly, so far, it seems like it is.