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Big Brother 3: Diagnosing Marcellasby Peggy Keller -- 09/01/2002
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In the beginning, there was Marcellas. Comedic relief, Marcellas pranced and whined his way through the game. He would have been the first to go except Gerry, not understanding that the Power of Veto was never supposed to be used but was actually just a dramatic prop, saved the queen of Big Brother and sealed his own eventual fate.
Marcellas, rather than being grateful for the gesture, chose instead to hate and belittle Gerry to a point where even those who weren't fans of Gerry began to feel sorry for the guy. Of course, CBS has chosen not to show his constant trashing on TV, leaving on the live feed viewers to know how truly horrible it has been. Watching the television coverage you might not understand the level of hate Marcellas held for Gerry.
He called Gerry a "fat f**k" a few times, muttered under his breath with Gerry scant feet away; he said that Gerry was a whale, a pound cake, a pig. He said Gerry needed to pack his bags and get out of his house - it went on like this for days. Marcellas was not the only one who bashed Gerry - they all did at one time or another. But it was harder to watch the man that Gerry saved turn into such a hostile bitch. And for Marcellas to cry with such apparent sorrow at Gerry's eviction was frightening. That was not the fist inkling that something was wrong, but it made me wonder just how seriously screwed up this man is.
After watching Marcellas on last night's show, I realized that he may actually have a serious mental disorder. The talking to himself does not seem all that healthy, but it goes beyond that. We cannot expect everyone who enters the house to get along, we cannot expect alliances to last the long haul, but for Marcellas to do what he did to the only person in the house who has been by his side since day one was absolutely breath-taking. Watching Amy's face as Marcellas belittled her for what seemed to be a simple personality conflict was like being punched in the gut. Amy is not without sin, she is too loud, she drinks too much, she was voted out once already, etc. But to watch Marcellas get disgusted with her for things like losing a ring seemed bizarre.
Marcellas claiming that this was not about the game, that it was a personal decision, makes no strategic sense. If this man can put his only true ally up on the block, then how is anyone else supposed to trust him? How can he possibly get into the final two if he shoots his girl? And does he really expect to win if he, by some miracle, does make it? It is not just putting Amy up that makes little sense, it is his entire personality that concerns me.
All of houseguests have shown one or two sociopathic traits (Superficial Charm; Manipulative and Conning; Grandiose Sense of Self; Pathological Lying; Lack of Remorse, Shame, or Guilt; Shallow Emotions; Incapacity for Love; Callousness/Lack of Empathy; Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature; Irresponsibility/Unreliability; Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity; Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle; Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility). While in the house, under the guise of game-playing, these behaviors could be understandable and I doubt that they would really behave like psychopaths in the real world.
When Dani repeatedly calls Roddy the Devil and even backs it up with biblical scripture, we don't think that she really sees Roddy with horns and a tail; we know Dani is referring to game play. But when it comes to Marcellas, he seems to be taking the game to a new level of pathology. When he relished the thought of Gerry getting stuck in the closet and "ass-phixiating" and dying, I wondered if he was really just joking or if he would have liked to see Gerry dead.
Since I am not a psychiatrist I cannot know for sure what disorder Marcellas suffers from, but if Big Brother is a psychological experiment, then Marcellas is the biggest, most obvious lab rat (or gerbil) in the cage.
I would love for CBS to have a team of psychiatrists on staff watching this show and taking notes so that they can explain the fine line between game play and true mental illness. Marcellas, since putting Amy up for eviction, has told the rest of the houseguests that she was not a decoy, and he was punishing her for interrupting during dinner and wanting the focus to be on her and not playing the game according to the Marcellas rule book. He also cried and said he loved her and told everyone he does not want her to go. This adds more credence to the possibility that Marcellas has a severe problem.
Watching Marcellas as he walked away from the table and then turned to look back with a hint of a grin on his face, and then almost immediately saying he didn't want Amy to be voted out, reminded me of a someone who kicks their puppy and then hugs the animal in order to make the next kick hurt even more. In Marcellas' bio on the Big Brother home page, he claimed one of his weaknesses was, "My intolerance of ignorance and meanness in others." Somehow, it seems, Marcellas has turned into what he cannot tolerate the most.
Peggy Keller is Mother and Behavior Therapist to her two autistic sons and teenage daughter. Click here to e-mail her.
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