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Big Brother 3: Danielle Lost Because She Wasn't Ruthless Enoughby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 09/29/2002
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I've written a few pieces connecting international relations theory to actions on Survivor 4. Now let me take a turn with applying some of these lessons to Big Brother 3.
Danielle lost for two simple reasons -- she inspired resentment rather than admiration for her play, and she was not ruthless enough when it counted. She shouldn't feel too badly about it because others have made the same mistake. But instead of losing $450,000, these others lost their jobs, sometimes their freedoms, even their lives.
These individuals served as maximum leaders of their states. Idi Amin Dada and Nicolae Ceaucescu, dispatched at the first chance by their Ugandan armed forces and Romanian people, respectively; Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose Iran was overthrown by forces loyal to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; Gen. Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who lost Nicaragua to the Sandinistas; Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, shunted out of the way by Solidarity in Poland; even Gen. Sec. Mikhail Gorbachev, whose Soviet Union went out with a whimper after nearly three-quarters of a century of terror -- these are only a few high profile strongmen brought down because they used force indiscriminately to repress their public's desires, but too little force to stop the tides of these desires from washing them and their regimes away. RealityNewsOnline's editor David Bloomberg's suggestion, in his article on what Survivor contestants should have learned, that one familiarize oneself with Niccolo Machiavaelli's The Prince was advice Danielle and these deposed, some dead, leaders sure could have used. The title of Chapter 17, "Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better To Be Loved Than Feared," says it all.
Here, the prince is advised to establish fear because to entice subjects' acquiescence through love fails as human beings naturally take advantage of generosity and will act in petty ways ("Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous ..." sounds like most of a jury we know?). Fear works because it is imposed rather than requested, as opposed to love ("men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.")
Yet in doing so, one cannot commit cruelty (such as bragging about strategy, calling people "devils" etc.). For it inspires hatred because it seems to be without merit ("when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause ..."). In short, Danielle failed because if she had garnered fear in the minds of the others after they came to realize how she had played them, they would have respected her, but she created the perception of cruelty instead. Instead of displaying the attitude that she dispatched opponents dispassionately in pursuit of her goal, she seemed alternatively to revel in her tactics and disparage herself for doing so.
But even if she had tried to follow this suggested strategy, she could not have avoided one cruel act which would veto any respect she had won - selling out Jason. Surely she knew she would have lost in the final against him, even worse (unanimously!) than against Lisa. Here, ruthlessness would have had to kick in.
In contrast to the above list of deposed authoritarians, we need to look at some more successful ones to understand how this would have worked. Josef Stalin rode herd for a quarter century over a system than killed tens of millions precisely because whenever even the remotest threat to his power emerged, he "liquidated" it. He never let up on the repression in the Soviet Union except in ways which Machiavelli would have approved (granting "clemency" of a sort during World War II to boost the Soviets' fighting morale). Fidel Castro operates much the same way in Cuba, suppressing any challenges to the state, and has the additional luxury of making the costs of dissent so high that around a hundred thousand regime opponents have been willing to take to the open seas to escape the island.
These examples, among many others from history, show that half measures fail when it comes to repressing the citizenry and maintaining power. Tender feelings lead to their taking advantage of the prince and running him out precisely because they are given an opening to do so in reaction to his cruelty.
These feelings cost Danielle. She should have known that only a final match-up with Amy could have brought her a win, because the others perceived Amy's ascension to that position as fortuitous, undeserved, and without merit (plus, perhaps they would fear she might drink away the 500 G's). But cruelty to Jason would have made even Amy seem too desirable to perhaps enough ousted houseguests to cost Danielle the vote. So, keeping her plan to herself, first Danielle should have gotten Jason to burn Lisa. Next, Danielle should have thrown the Head of Household challenge and hope that Amy won. If so, then she would have to hope Amy would evict Jason (as Amy's post-eviction comments seemed to suggest she would have) and then Danielle could have emerged with clean hands and her ideal match-up.
Danielle didn't lose because she was too ruthless. She lost because she was not ruthless enough to first sell out Lisa, then Jason, in cunning ways. She chose the wrong type of strategy given that she could not suppress her feelings of kindness towards a few, letting those feelings cause her to make the wrong moves at the end. But, let's give her credit, in terms of ability to execute this strategy, I wouldn't want to be in the same company as the expert practitioners noted above.
Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport where he teaches, among other things, classes in international politics, international organizations, and diplomatic history. He has published in the area of gaming simulations in international politics.
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