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Big Bother

September 6th, 2004 · No Comments · Uncategorized

On the very stupid but still personally appealing reality game show “Big Brother,” I find myself wanting to smack the very stupid and personally unappealing host.

Not just because she’s a dull-as-dishwater robot host. Not because she frequently wears outfits entirely inappropriate for her age. Not even because she’s got the interviewing skills of wet rag.

It is because, as a trained television journalist, as low as that bar is these days, Julie Chen should know how to not speak in vacant meaningless phrases. The contestants, who frequently are not the sharpest crayons in the box, can hardly be held to the same standards. Maybe the producers put her up to it, in which case my invective is directed towards them (though she’s still a lousy host).

But first, a bit of history.

The folks who produce Big Brother are always trying to tweak the game to make it an interesting competition. One aspect of the game is the “veto”. Every week two people are nominated by another person, who won a competition for that power, for elimination from the game. The other people vote on who should go. Between the nomination and the vote is another completion, for the “power of veto.”

The player who wins the veto can “un-nominate” one of the two nominees. The person who did the nominations in the first place then picks another person (and it can’t be the person who just used the veto.)

One of the dumb rules of the first few seasons was that if a nominee won the veto, it could not be used on that nominee. So basically, you couldn’t save yourself. What this meant, in terms of game play was that almost no one ever had a good reason to use it. If you were a nominee, you were screwed, and if you weren’t, you didn’t want to rock the boat. In essence, it made the veto competition and outcome pretty boring and useless.

So half way through an earlier season, they introduced, as a “twist” that these games love to do, the “golden veto”. The medal that the player would win for the power of veto competition went from silver to gold, and this golden veto could be used by a nominee to save themselves. This made vetoes more useful in the game.

Since players before were competing to win “the power of veto”, they now would compete to win “the power of the golden veto”.

This makes sense. The veto medal is gold, thus you are trying to win the golden veto.

But somewhere along the line, the players, all deeply soaked in our advertising culture where we’ve heard of the “golden taste of honey/almonds/beer”, decided it wasn’t the veto that was gold, but the power of the veto. Suddenly we had “the golden power of veto.”

As I said, the players of Big Brother aren’t bright sparks, but that doesn’t give Julie Chen and/or the producers the excuse to run with it. The power of veto isn’t gold. For all we know, it could be blue. Or maybe it doesn’t have a color, but a flavor, like mint. All this is open to speculation, but while the color/flavor/sound of the power of veto is indeterminate, the veto itself is quite clearly gold. So, please, can we call it what it is: the power of golden veto?

Isn’t nice to know, with all the real problems in the world, that you can take comfort that somewhere there’s a man shouting at the host of a reality game show on television, saying “It’s the power of golden veto, damn it!”

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