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The Voyeurism of Watching Pinoy Big Brother

Yeah, right. I’m now watching Pinoy Big Brother. Not just the edited and canned version that they show at prime time. Yes, even the live snoop-camera version that is aired over one of the local cable channels.

In years gone by, PBB fell under the category of shows-I-wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-watching. However, among the perks that I enjoy in life at the moment is that I actually have idle time; something I seldom did in the past. As in, idle enough to actually watch television shows that are direct antitheses of what is called purpose in life.

In a manner of speaking, the live shows using strategically located cameras inside Kuya’s house become, for the televiewer, a sort of voyeurism. The more I watched the show, however, the more I realized that it was not as inane as I initially thought it to be.

Different people will have different takes on the show. In my case, the show has started to become something of a social and behavioural experiment. You know; something akin to watching the behaviour of white mice through the glass of an aquarium.

The behavioural dynamics are fascinating to observe! Sometimes, the participants will discreetly compete for air time by positioning themselves in front of the cameras. You can tell because they actually – if momentarily – look directly into the cameras.

Other times, though, they become totally unconscious of the cameras and do things normal people do in real life. Like, arrange their boobs inside their brassieres; or scratch their butts or their balls; or pick their noses; or yawn with gaping mouths.

The personalities in both houses are anything but dull. There is the Fil-Australian Jessica who has a gorgeous face and an angelic voice and is the personification of God’s wicked sense of humour in that her legs look more like timber than legs. Ugh-ly… Seriously ugh-ly…

Then, there is the Fil-Japanese Seichang who got drunk one night and then made an utter mess of himself, lapping up all the attention that he was getting and then hamming it up even more. Pathetic.

There is also this Leyteño Kigoy, who is always belligerent and getting into little tiffs with just about every one of his housemates. I spent half an hour watching his housemates gossip about him in a not-so-friendly manner after he had a heated exchange of words with his housemate Slater.

Kigoy’s belligerence was enough of a concern to members of Team High Voltage that it was referred to Anatoly Chua – a.k.a. “Tol” – the team’s apparent “leader” and who appears to be the only one who can pacify Kigoy. Tol reminds me a lot of Atty. Muria, by the way – sorry for the plug Ramel.☺

For team Wayuk, everyone seems to defer to Paco for the choreography and to Mama Luz for the food. The former is a talkative businessman from Gensan while the latter is a bodybuilding housewife from Muntinglupâ. I wouldn’t want to encounter her in a dark alley. I swear her arm muscles are bigger than mine!

There are two Batangueños, by the way. Unad is the spitting image of one of my former co-workers and is probably a relation, anyway. He can’t stop talking about how gwapo he is but his stooped posture probably betrays a lack of confidence. What I do like about him is that he has no pretensions and does not hide his punto.

The other is Pamu from Lipa City. She is pretty if a little gifted down the chin. When she talks, she is unmistakably Batangueño in that she is loud. She is a bit of a mystery as a dancer because, in rehearsal, she is all bones and square ugly angles. However, when in actual performance and wearing a dress and high heels, she transforms into something graceful in movement. Explain that one, please!

There are many more of them, but let me just cite one more housemate, the half-German Biggel from Marinduque. The first time I saw him, I thought he was among the Fil-Foreigners. What is life, though, except full of surprises? When I first heard him speak, it was with a thick Batangueño accent not unlike that of Unad. Taga-Marinduque pala.

Some of the tasks that Kuya gives the housemates are enriching; particularly when these are to prepare for song and dance performances. I don’t know about previous PBB editions – because I never watched until this season – but there are a lot of good dancers in this group – particularly in Team High Voltage. Ryan of Team Wayuk, though, is arguably the current batch’s most accomplished dancer.

In a recent chacha dance-off, however, the most poignant performance was given by the paraplegic Nap, who danced with a professional whilst on his wheelchair. That performance was inspirational and spoke volumes not just for the physically handicapped.

As for the other tasks that Kuya intermittently gives the housemates, these are of the sort that those of us in the real world will not be caught dead doing. If we do, we are certain to be branded utô-utô. I mean, things like manually counting eight hours; or not taking a bath for several days; or digging into a pile of clothes for parts of a cell phone. Duh…

Still, it’s how the housemates go about these tasks – senseless, though, they may sometimes be – that can be so fascinating. Then they all go to the confession room to tell Kuya how and what they learned about themselves by performing their stupid tasks. Seriously?

I rather tend to see more of Team Wayuk more because their house is aired during daytime. Primetime is for News and the Internet for me. However, it’s the same in either house. Whether deliberately or unconsciously, the housemates just spontaneously defer to what Cesar Millan calls a “pack leader.”

There are personality conflicts, although there appears to be more of these in Team High Voltage than Team Wayuk; and probably because of Kigoy’s abrasive personality.

Team Wayuk reminds me of Cesar Millan’s own pack of dogs where everyone is in a calm submissive state of mind. When Seichang threw a fit when drunk because he – and this was according to him – had a “thing” for Pamu, everyone in the house worked to restore him to a calm submissive state of mind.

What I find most fascinating about the show, however, is how certain personalities tend to gravitate towards one another and form little cliques even within the two houses. Just as we all do even within our own families; in school; and within our own circles of friends and acquaintances.

In the end, I suppose what people gain from the voyeurism of watching PBB is the pleasure of seeing the same social dynamics enacted in a controlled environment as they are in everyday life regardless of family background, economics, skin colour, physical attributes and language.

In PBB there is joy and sadness; success and defeat; friends and enemies; and conflicts and resolutions. In other words, people will be people wherever and whoever they are. PBB is not so inane, after all.

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