Speidi vs. Relationship Norms

What is it about this celebrity couple which has got everyone talking?  Are they playing a game with Big Brother? Are they playing a character for the show?  Or is this how they really are with each other?  Whatever it is that they are doing it at has got the nation talking.  Both Heidi and Spencer have a very interesting relationship.  The two of them are completely co-dependent on each other.  They are never more than 2 feet apart from each other, they go to the kitchen together, to the sofa together and even to the bathroom (one waits outside while the other one pee’s) and they will always, always agree with the other one.  The relationship is like they are two bodies but one thought.  It appears to be that the reason that they never argue with each other is because they project their negativity and sensitivity onto the people around them.  Instead of disagreeing or arguing with one another they will untie and project the row onto someone else in the house.  As I can only imagine is what they do when they are in the ‘real world’.  I use the term loosely as they are reality start after all.

What does it mean to be that united with your partner, to the extremity that your relationship is possibly unhealthy and obsessive?  I believe that it can be very easy at the beginning of a relationship to get wrapped up in each other and forget there is anyone else around you.  Wrapped up in your sex, cuddling and take away bubble.   Where the bedroom has now become your bedroom, kitchen and TV room.  This bubble is ok for a few months, maybe a year at a push but then it’s time to start letting the real world back in.  With friends you haven’t seen and places you forgot existed because you’ve been so wrapped up in your dream boat bubble.  Eventually most people come out of the bubble and join the real world again.

What happens when some people don’t come out of the cocoon they have built for themselves?

When Speidi, I mean Heidi proceeded to explain to the other housemates how much she loved Spencer it was very strange.  She was very overtly passionate about it, almost in tears saying he is the air she breathes and the voice in her song and all these other poetic lines she had managed to concoct.  Me and my partner where lying on the sofa together watching this, looking in complete bewilderment at each other.  It’s like yeah I love you babe, but not like that, not in a weird obsessive, umbilical cord kind of way.  Just in a normal want to share my life with you kind of way.  I think that is the different I want my boyfriend to share my life with me, that means share my family and friends.  Not BE my family and friends.

When relationships become so intertwined like that, with that kind of co-dependency it fascinates me how one will cope if the other one is not there.  If one of them was to leave the other one or one of them dies!

When people become so wrapped up in each other it always fascinates me about what will happen if the other one has had enough.  If one of them breaks up with the other on or if someone dies.  How would they cope, spending years not making a decision or barely having a thought process of their own I would imagine lead to a major breakdown Charlie Sheen style (minus the 7 gram rocks).

The flip-side of this relationship madness is that they are both incredibly in love with each other.  If it wasn’t for all the bitching and sniping behind the other housemates backs then Heidi and Spencer could really be a sweet couple.  Not a couple I’d like to hang out with.  It would just be a constant battle to make sure we were as in love with each other as they are.  Reciting Shakes sphere over our special fried rice.  If there was no one else around they would probably prefer it like that.  They had made little effort with the housemates and seemed to like it like that.  They have each other’s backs, most probably even if they secretly don’t agree with each other on things.   The two of them are happy just in each other’s company and nobody else’s.  Personally my boyfriend and I wouldn’t last 5 minutes if there was an apocalypse and we were the only remaining survivors.  No alcohol, no cigarettes and no Papa Johns.  The bubbles burst and yes John Lennon you do need more than love I’m afraid.

Just don’t tell Speidi that.

Who Wants to Live Forever? – Part 2: The Evolution of Celebrity

“Where has God gone?… We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers…God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’ (Nietzsche, The Gay Science)

From Oscar Wilde to Jordan

How did we get from Oscar Wilde to Jordan?  This may sound like the opening line of a cheesy joke, but in actual fact the cult of celebrity has a lineage, an evolution which, like any cultural phenomenon, can be historically mapped. When we engage with this mapping process we discern a move away from the artist, to the personality, a move away from the notion of fame as a by-product of talent and towards the phenomenon of fame for its own sake.

Even as recently as the 1980s this idea was unheard of. Those in the public eye had to have a talent, usually but not necessarily, an artistic ability, in order to ascend to the status of celebrity.

Yet the seeds of this evolution were sown by Oscar Wilde, who once said, “I have put my genius into my life, only my talent into my works.” Indeed, the public’s fascination with Wilde’s life has often overshadowed the immense talent he possessed, with filmmakers and biographers concentrating upon the tragic story of his downfall rather than his works.

But with Wilde, there still is a body of work, a legacy by which to remember him, now that all those who knew him are dead. These days, with modern celebrities there is often no such thing. So hungry are we to adopt new idols that we have removed the years of hard work devoted to developing a talent in order to facilitate the quick, easy acquisition of fame. Reality shows such as Channel Five’s Big Brother, along with internet sites like Star Now, mean that almost anyone can pursue and achieve celebrity.

Channel 5's Big Brother

It is plausible that the current obsession with ‘instant fame’ and the cult of the personality may come be regarded by future historians as symptomatic of cultural indolence; a reflection of the trashy disposable society in which we presently live.

Indeed, along with flat pack furniture, high rise tenements and ready meals for one, it would be easy to regard the celebrity craze as something that shows our culture as just that: a disposable, empty and meaningless sham.

After all, remove the concept of talent from the equation and we soon have a free-for-all, in which the only criterion necessary to achieve celebrity is desperation: the desperation to be on camera and to be immortal.

But where has it come from, this need to turn our lives into a perpetual performance, to play out our lives in front of the cameras, to film, scrutinise and record every aspect of the human experience, from the day to day goings on of the contestants in Big Brother, to the D.I.Y. projects of ordinary people?

Has this impetus to observe ourselves and be observed always been there? Is it something wired into the human psyche, or it is a superficial thing, a result of the rapid expansion of media culture?

Certainly the need for idols and heroes stretches back to Hercules and beyond and is an innate human need, but the criteria defining such figures – bravery, struggle, intelligence, strength – was narrow enough to exclude most of the population. Now, what we are seeing is an expansion of the criteria defining the hero so that to be famous is to be a hero, regardless of whether one possesses the requisite qualities of courage, vision and strength.

Hercules - the original hero?

 Mythologist Rollo May was quick to point this out, arguing in The Cry for Myth (Doubleday 1991) that one of the problems of our time is that, “we have confused celebrities with heroes.” May is undoubtedly correct in this claim. We have confused celebrities with heroes.

But why? And why the restless, almost frantic search for fame on the part of those who want to be celebrities and, I would argue, the equally frenetic search for idols on the part of the public? It is suggestive of a culture that has lost its way, one that has lost the ability to navigate through the labyrinthine paths of existence towards some kind of meaning.

As I discussed in my last article, the waning influence of religion in the late nineteenth century has contributed to the search for guru figures. The gradual erosion of monotheistic culture in favour of a polytheistic one has paved the way for the egalitarian celebrity culture in which we now live. As Andy Warhol observed, “everyone can be famous for fifteen minutes.”

In the last few decades, as the search for idols and the quest for fame has increased in momentum, the criteria defining the guru figure has expanded, making it possible for almost anyone to become famous.

Andy Warhol

To desire fame is to desire immortality. That much is obvious. But it is also to desire for one’s every thought, movement, action and response to be observed. Why? Because human beings are innately theatrical. Because human life is inherently a performance, in which we need to be noticed and acknowledged in order for our lives to have meaning and if God can no longer fulfil the function of continual audience; if the hereafter can no longer be the route to immortality, then something else must fulfil those functions, otherwise what is the point?

This is where the camera comes in. If Heaven and Hell are just concepts invented by humans and not places we go to when we die, then immortality must be rethought; the afterlife re-invented to mean being captured for posterity on camera – or at least for fifteen minutes.

In addition, the ever-burgeoning human population and the rise of technology renders us more faceless and impersonal than ever. Tired of being lost in the crowd, we want to feel valued again; we want to feel as if we matter as individuals.

In the faceless bureaucratisation of our society and the equally faceless life of the cities in which most people live, people are looking to find a way back to an essential humanity. For some, the way to achieve this is by being known to everyone. Of course this is inherently narcissistic, since it is not a two-way process. Celebrities do not care to “know” their public, simply to be known by them.

Yet what the modern cult of celebrity shows is an essential discontentment with everyday, contemporary life. It is a reflection of the need to re-inject meaning into our existence, to replace what has been lost through the slow decline of religion – meaning, certainty and value – and to replace it with something more radical, egalitarian and liberating. However, whether this is a positive thing is perhaps a question only future historians will be able to answer.

Images reporduced from blog.paperblanks.com, au.thehype.yahoo.com, channel5.com, totalfilm.com and neverwoodhigh.com

Aaron Allard Wins Big Brother 2011

After nine weeks of watching the antics unfold in the Big Brother 2011 house, Friday saw the Big Brother finale with the four remaining housemates up for the title of Big Brother winner of 2011. Alex Rose Lee, Louise Cliffe, Jay McKray and Aaron Allard had all made it to Day 64 and now it was time for the final evictions from the Big Brother house.

Louise Cliffe was the first to be evicted. She wore a beautiful ruffled dress with sequinned corset and sported her new fringe haircut. During her interview with Brian Dowling, Louise spoke of her relationship with Jay, saying: “‘Nine weeks equals ten years in here. Jay is just so normal and he reminds me of the people I know back home.” She added enthusiatically, “I love him to bits I do, I do, I do.”

Louise Cliffe - the model housemate?

Alex Rose Lee, the last remaining female housemate, was the next to leave the Big Brother house. The fast food worker and ex air hostess was dressed in a short figure-hugging dress in her signature pink colour and it was no surprise that she was wearing her new Jimmy Choo shoes given to her as a birthday present from Jay & Louise. Alex had avoided the public vote every single week of the competition. Speaking to Brian, she said that being herself was what she thhinks got her through the show.

Alex left the house dressed in pink - no surprises there then!

The time had come for the winner of Big Brother 2011 to be announced. As Brian Dowling revealed it was Aaron Allard, the crowd erupted into a chorus of boos. Jay McKray was therefore in second place and exited the Big Brother house fighting back tears. He was always popular with the public having been saved from eviction in previous weeks. Jay confessed in his interview that he was in love with Louise and that she had kept him sane during the hard times he experienced in the Big Brother house. He went on to say that the hardest moment in the show was when there was only bananas to eat thanks to Harry’s food shopping prank and Jay said that he “will never eat a banana again.”

Jay McKray came second in the competition

And so it was time for Aaron Allard to leave the Big Brother house as the 2011 winner of the fly-on-the-wall reality TV show. Aaron had been up for eviction four times during Big Brother 2011 and had been saved by the public each time. It was thus a big surprise and a first in the history of Big Brother that on leaving the Big Brother house Aaron was welcomed by boos from the crowds outside rather than cheers. During his interview with Brian, he said that he had found the last 7 days difficult as he had missed Faye. He went on to say that he definitely wanted them to be a couple and that he “really liked her”. Aaron also said that he couldn’t understand why people had booed him.

Aaron Allard - the winner of Big Brother 2011

Perhaps it was his sulking that the crowds didn’t like? Or the on-off-on relationship he had with Faye Palmer? Or maybe it was just that this 30-something contract manager was more thoughtful and mature than the other housemates making him look patronising? Whatever the reasons behind the boos, Aaron Allard survived the nine weeks of scrutiny by the Big Brother cameras and some may say he also managed to survive the editing of the show where 24 hours is reduced to a few snippets of “good television”. Below are Aaron’s best bits from the show… enjoy!