This series has brought out the very worst in the audience.
Content note: this article contains discussions of sexual assault.
Celebrity Big Brother always makes the headlines – that much is not new. But this year it’s the audience who continue to be the most irksome part of the show. Perhaps it was wrong to expect this to change after the ‘year of the woman’ which saw an unapologetic ‘SJW’ win the series comfortably. Yet, to go back to such a toxic fan discourse is quite a shock.
This series has so far had two controversial figures. Natalie, a woman of colour, riled up the entire house and the outside world. The problem is though that everyone was quick to hold her actions to account. Yes, she was annoying and mean to poor Gabby. But within a day of bad behaviour people were already labelling her a bully (including housemates). Was she ever really going to get a chance?
The second controversial housemate was even more of a disaster. Roxanne for days told housemates that Ryan had hurt her, only for everyone to see and find out that it wasn’t quite like the story she was telling. The audience since has been unforgiving, which would be fair enough if only they didn’t use it as an excuse to dip into misogyny. Housemate Sally Morgan even said it was as “bad as crying rape”. This is massively incorrect. For one thing, it legitimises the false idea that people – specifically women – make up rape allegations regularly when statistics show false rape allegations are only at around 2-6%. In contrast, in England only 1 in every 14 reported rapes ends in a conviction. It’s important to remember that the majority of rape survivors (83%) never report their assaults. Women do not cry rape. To even try to legitimise that or compare Roxanne’s actions to that is disgusting.
“It’s important to remember that the majority of rape survivors (83%) never report their assaults”
Yet, this has not stopped the audience from worrying loudly about all of the false accusations they think are made against men and how their careers could be ruined. This is the point where right now every woman would stare into the camera in the Office style if it wasn’t so laughable. Women have come forward across the world with their stories of abuse. Louis CK admitted indecent exposure (a criminal offence) but is now back on the comedy scene. There are so far, only criminal actions taking place against Weinstein but none of the other men in Hollywood who have been accused of sexual assault and/or misconduct. Casey Affleck and Woody Allen may be keeping their heads down but they are still carrying on with their careers. Chris Hardwick is back with plenty of support. Morgan Freeman will likely remain a household name despite allegations of sexual impropriety as too will Michael Douglas. James Franco will likely still continue to make shit films. Bryan Singer is still one of the most sought after talents in Hollywood despite allegations and facing a lawsuit alleging that he raped a then seventeen year old. George Takei is still beloved by the liberal and left voices in media despite being accused of groping someone. R Kelly is still a successful music artist even though he has faced allegations of raping underage women since the 90s. Time Magazine has even documented over one hundred celebrities accused of sexual assault and/or harassment and in the vast majority of cases, there have been no criminal charges and the accused are still working in the industry.
This series of Celebrity Big Brother though has seen an audience desperate to jump on stereotypes. They wanted to see an angry black woman and now they have wanted to see a “woman crying rape”. This has not been about protecting Ryan or standing up for him when Roxanne is being used as a prop to imply that women are regularly telling lies about men to try to ruin them. It is disgusting opportunism, particularly when that very house has one occupant accused of sexual harassment and another for making violent threats to his ex-girlfriend. I’m done with Celebrity Big Brother. The producers just to set the show up like this after ‘the year of the woman’ but the audience have revelled in it and looked for any excuse to find the very worst in people they don’t like anyway. If this is to be CBB’s last season, then good riddance.