Big Brother 8: Dick, Jen and Different Versions of the Same Reality
Big Brother 8: Dick, Jen and Different Versions of the Same Reality
An issue has risen over the past couple of weeks on Big Brother 8.  It's one that has certainly come up before, and often, among fans of the show, but it's never felt as pronounced as it has lately.  The Dick versus Jen argument has become the most volatile of the season, polarizing fans and directing venom at CBS.  You see, for fans who only watch the three episode a week, prime-time CBS version of Big Brother, you know only parts of the story.  Live feeders have a much different perspective.  The basic argument is this:  CBS unfairly skewed the coverage of the Dick vs. Jen feud in favor of Dick, making Jen look far worse than she actually was and making Dick seem much better. 

For CBS, the reasons for doing this are obvious.  When editing a reality show, the producers aim to tell a story.   What's better, “Vapid nanny is the victim of verbal abuse,” or “Estranged father/daughter band together against spoiled, lying nanny"?  Since they were really selling the father/daughter story from the beginning of the season, there's no reason to change it now, especially when they've been consistent about characterizing Jen as a spoiled brat who everyone hated, and with legitimate reasons.  So, I understand why CBS has gone the route that it has, and I wish more live feed watchers would understand it as well. 

Is it wrong for CBS to sell America a skewed version of the truth?  I don't think so.  Conspiracy theorists will always claim that CBS manipulates the action, but they don't.  That would have been blown open long ago if they had.  And, don't forget, regardless of how they choose to edit the show, episodes of Big Brother only contain footage from the house.  This might sound dumb, but it's important.  Jen said all those things that CBS aired, she did all those things.  Even if they didn't air the entire circumstances surrounding the cigarette fight, Jen still destroyed the property of someone else in the house.  This rosy picture of Jen that has permeated the internets lately is just plain false. Jen is no saint, people. 

Now, what about Dick?  Clearly, he's not blameless in his feud with Jen.  He took things way further than they needed to go.  I think we can all agree on that.  But, even if I wouldn't have said the awful things he said to Jen, I can understand where he's coming from.  Dick, a man who obviously isn't one to mince words or keep his feelings bottled up, is forced to live inside a small house with someone he absolutely can't stand.  I've known people like Dick, people who, if pissed off, will say things that are brutal and over-the-top, but they're only words.  I'm as sick of people vilifying Dick as I am of deifying Jen.  Both are incredibly different, flawed human beings whose faults have been magnified by their unwieldy circumstances: being stuck inside a house with people they absolutely do not get along with.  If you think the worst of you wouldn't come out at some point in that situation, you are delusional.

There is no great tragedy in the TV audience not knowing the whole truth.  Live feed watchers get a much better understanding of who the house guests are because they have the time to watch them for hours and understand their complex personalities.  Television only viewers do not have this luxury and therefore must be told a simple story that can be wedged into a 42 minute space three times a week.  So what if viewers don't know the full truth about Dick?  Jen knows, and the live feeders know, and the other houseguests know.  If CBS had the time on their prime-time schedule to tell the whole Dick saga, then I'm sure they would.  But they don't, and so us television watchers are just going to have to settle for a little different version of reality.  Sometimes, it's even better that way. 

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)