BB: Ruling with an Iron Fist?

Big Brother - the notion of being controlled by some anonymous bureaucratic government is not something I have ever felt remotely comfortable with. However, when it comes to that house in leafy Hertfordshire I hope Big Brother rules with an Iron Fist. Let there be no mercy for the BB4 housemates.


I have been wondering lately just how the producers of BB are going to rule the housemates this year. Last year in my view BB’s control strategy was totally lame. BB in 2002 had the ‘3 strikes rule’. Just a few strikes were issued, after multiple warnings to housemates over and over again. As many a DS:BB forum member has commented, had the rules been followed to the letter, then all twelve contestants would have got the boot. Now I’m not saying I would have wanted that to happen. However the forced booting of a few housemates would have been great entertainment. I’m not even saying I wanted any particular housemate to have been booted for breaking the rules. I just wish that BB had decided to enforce its rules sternly. For instance, the first time that one of the HM’s crossed the much criticised heaven/hell divide, that particular HM should have been evicted within the hour – it would have made for high quality viewing.

Lets be clear about this, if there are going to be rules in BB then they should be enforced. Otherwise it just becomes pointless to even set such guidelines to the housemates in the first place. 

Styles of Control

There are three main possible styles of Control that the show’s rulers could take…

  1. Ruling with the Iron fist.

  2. A totally easy going liberal approach

  3. A haft way measure of the two.

Sadly I believe that the show’s producers this BB season will (once again) go for the haft way measure. This is a shame since it makes for the dullest of all possible BB houses. I’ve always been something of an extremist – I want to see the highs and the lows, who wants to see a ‘middle of the road’ BB household ? 

Methods of Control and Manipulation

As follows, are a few personal style suggestions for BB, (hey, if only I was in command of the show). If I sound ‘eviction’ happy, then that’s because I am. 

Ψ   Opening night…. First housemate to go to bed (or falls asleep) gets evicted. This could be an announced ‘threat’, or not even mentioned. If it was official, it would be simply awesome to see which one gives in first. hey, what is wrong with a little bit of sleep deprivation?

Ψ  The ‘rat food’ approach. - See that all food deliveries are done at the most inconvenient time of day – make them wait an extra day sometimes (giving some lame excuse for their supplies). Random reinforcement is always a really fun thing to do to annoy people.

Ψ   Impossible tasks – you know I think it is about time the HM’s were given truly impossible tasks to complete. I don’t much care what the task actually is, as long as it infuriates and frustrates the housemates. For example, give each housemate a bag of sand and ask them to count all the grains - they get a margin of error of +/- 5 grains. Just imagine it, it would be hilarious just to see which housemates would actually bother to do such a week long task. Perhaps offer them prizes as incentives to complete such task, but keeping the tasks unachievable in all instances.

Ψ   Cut the utilities – randomly cut the power (except the lights of course), and maybe the hot water from time to time. This could be done if housemates are rude, or break the rules. BB could announce that “…utilities are being cut for most of today, due to continued rudeness of the housemates”. Lack of a cooker, and lack of a hot shower, might add some interesting tension in the house. Just imagine, one of the housemates breaks a rule, and then the power is cut for the rest of the day. The rule breaking housemate would certainly feel the flack from the other housemates !

Ψ   First week evictions - why not just evict one housemate a day for the first whole week ? Why not huh ? The first week is so predictable, the HM’s get all cosy and the group dynamic is all ‘friendly and happiness’ – lets see BB change this. Seriously, I really do wish BB would be ‘boot-happy’. I wish the producers would try to add some stern fear into the ‘wannabes’. They have a fairly large supply of immediate replacements, so why not do the unexpected for once?

 Ψ   Prizes - randomly give prizes to housemates who are being treated ‘unfairly’ in the house. For instance, last year when ‘my’ dear Sophie – you remember the incident with miss goody bitching about Sophie, only for Sophie to enter the scene. Well I think it would have been great if BB had made an announcement later that day that  “This is Big Brother, Miss Sophie has been selected to receive a new car”. Just imagine how that would have affected the dynamics of the house. BB has the power to manipulate the group dynamic, it should be making use of this power.

 Ψ    Flicking between a lax manner of control and ruling sternly. For instance, one week BB should hold hard to its rules, but then fail totally to command the HM’s the following week. Such irregular standards of control would probably create great uncertainty in the contestants, keeping them mentally sharper perhaps ?

Ψ    ‘Lock em up’ approach. Keep the HM’s locked up in their bedrooms for extended periods of time. Especially if it is a hot summers day, keep asking them to return to their bedrooms throughout the day – on a randomly done basis of course, for added annoyance.

Finally, a few suggestions from DS:BB Reporter Jason Crawley

Ψ   ‘The Broken Home’ approach. There are many possibilities here. Block up the toilet for a while perhaps ?  This would surely be damn annoying to the housemates, just imagine it ! The housemates’ wouldn’t need to find out that BB is covertly doing this of course. Another suggestion, ‘stuck patio doors’. It’s a warm summers day, but the doors are seemingly stuck, and BB announces ‘Sadly, we are unable to get hold of maintenance crew today’. Faulty cookers, broken fridges, etc – you get the idea. Anything that might help to stir up the tension in the house.

I suppose I could run off a whole list of other possible strategies for BB to control the housemates, but you get the general idea I hope. I just think BB should be using its power of control in new and in a more randomly unexpected style. The key issue is random punishment/reinforcement. Human beings are notoriously unsettled when situations become unpredictable. The BB house should be a place of instability, it should not be a comfortable and reliable place. It remains a game show after all ! 

It is about time Big Brother started to show some serious Might to the next group of housemates. Do we really want the same style of control each year? Don’t we want a bit of variety in how BB controls the housemates?

BB4 contestants – knowing what to expect

We shall soon have a new bunch of housemates, and most of them will probably have seen a great deal of the previous shows. They will know what to expect, they will be more prepared than any previous housemates. Some of them will be entering the house will a complex mental strategy, based upon the way the media has treated past behaviour in the house.

From the way I see things progressing, BB4 contestants look set to get a pretty easy going house vacation this summer. There won’t be any divide, they will probably have even more (legal) drugs than last year. The thing I don’t want to see is BB2 mk.II. Who wants BB2 again ? We saw it, been there, why do some BB fans desire to repeat a previous year ?

If Big Brother is to remain a success it must continue to be flexible about its style. The most fundamental aspect of the show remains the ‘control’ aspect. It would be really interesting to see the producers introduce a few of the suggestions I outlined earlier. All I am hoping is this year is some renewed freshness in the show. I believe it is now time that ‘Big Brother’ actually takes the style of an ‘over-controlling dictatorial nemesis’. 

So what ruling style do you want the BB producers to assume in this years show, rule of the Iron Fist or a liberal easy going approach ?

Calrissian : The Dictatorial Liberal ruler.

Return to 

Contact Calrissian

© 2003 Philip Calrissian
Last Updated : 25/03/04