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Big Brother 4: Is There Any Strategy in the House?by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 08/14/2003
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So here we are, about the halfway point on Big Brother 4, a show I normally follow, and only now do I write my first commentary on the game’s strategy. There are two good reasons for this.
First, almost every single guest, evicted and present, just behaves so annoyingly. In the first three series, here and there one would find two-faced characters, sob sisters, provocateurs, etc., all trying to manipulate their way to the top. Here, almost everybody has acted this way. The only three who don’t seem to fit this mold (in descending order of annoying behavior) are Jack, Erika, and Nathan. (I guess we could throw in Michelle here, because cluelessness isn’t so much annoying as it is pathetic.)
My best theory explaining why we see such basket cases is this show – its fourth time around, recall, so applicants know what its about – has attracted players who really don’t care so much for strategy as just to be seen and to (literally, in some instances) expose themselves. In some ways, the I-hope-we-never-hear-this-phrase-again “X factor” is to blame. Think about it: let’s say you get a call from Endemol out of the blue inviting you on the show on very short notice. Only the more flighty (remember, most people have responsibilities and lives they just can’t drop suddenly) individuals will respond positively to that summons.
To summarize, we get a bunch of people jacked about becoming a “celebrity,” about calling attention to themselves (with aggressive sexuality just the most controversial manifestation of this). Annoying behavior often flows from that desire, as well as development of an attitude of inflated self-importance: witness Jee, Justin, and Robert (or Huey, Dewey, and Louie, or the Three Stooges, or whatever cleverer names may exist out there of which I have yet to hear), always congratulating themselves on their cunning when, by my real-time and taped observations of their strategic ponderings, if brains were dynamite together they’d have problems blowing just one of their noses.
Which leads to the second point, that there’s been so little credible strategy of which to speak. That’s precisely because these characters seem more interested in displaying themselves or because they have personal scores to settle or, well, just strain themselves too hard trying to derive strategy. Already we’ve seen so many mistakes of the past (including the all-time classic, “let’s nominate someone we really want out who nobody likes and who we could win against in the finals, against a decoy who we want around”). The only real strategic move in this game came from Dana, the most self-absorbed and annoying HouseGuest perhaps in the history of the franchise, when she evicted Dave by pitting allies against each other (although this week’s Nathan vs. Jack ranks as second best).
Perhaps hope yet exists for a little strategy here. At present, we have the Stooges in a rock solid alliance (although some deals were cut during the HOH competition), and Jack and Erika paired off. Nathan and Alison could have a made a good pair that potentially could have united with the older pair which could have competed head on with the Stooges, except Alison seems too unaware that, rather than acting as a kingmaker by her hopping to whichever side has control momentarily, instead she comes off as unreliable, unstable, and, barring fortuitous combinations of winning Head of Household or Power of Veto (POV), will get tossed away like a free ticket to a screening of Gigli. Jun is trying to play this role with a little more finesse, to her credit.
Yet eventually Jun must fall in with the Stooges given her double-secret alliance with Jee, and that outing of her alliance with them and Jee could manifest itself as early as this week. I’ve written this before knowing the results of the HOH competition, so let’s say Jack or Erika wins HOH, putting Jee and another Stooge getting up for eviction, and let’s say POV leaves Jee. At that point Jun must start lobbying everybody to not vote against Jee or she risks losing the only thing elevating her above the disposable status currently describing Alison. (In fact, Jee probably is seen as the least offensive of the Stooges by the others, so he would, well, should, be their first target.) That behavior alone exposes her.
However, a fortunate set of HOH/POV combinations could delay this revelation until, perhaps, just she and the Stooges remain. For this, at least she is just one of three showing any real strategic sense, with the other two being Jack and Erika. Jack appears to be the brains here and from day one looked to be head and shoulders above the others in terms of ability to play strategically (go figure, being at least a quarter century everybody’s elder and a former FBI agent).
At this point, this week’s HOH outcome will determine whether we see a last four of the Stooges and Jun, or whether Jack and Erika can stick around close to the end. A Stooge win and even they ought to figure out it’s time to try to split that pair (Jun will throw it to avoid detection). Even a POV win by that pair won’t help, because then Alison goes up and the leftover gets the boot. Then, a move by Jun to the Stooges, excepting a very unfavorable run of HOH/POV outcomes, almost guarantees they will comprise the last four. But if Jack or Erika wins HOH, up go two Stooges and even a POV save of one puts up the other, with the end result being like Moe and Larry after Curley had to basically retire from the trio.
Then it all depends upon Alison. She might think the wind blows in the Jack/Erika direction and lock in with them, thinking Jun’s there also. But if Jun gets outed, Alison could fall in with the remaining two Stooges and Jun (remember, Alison tends to go with whoever seems to have the advantage at the time). It gets even more complicated if Jee survives but at the cost of revealing the double-secret alliance. At that point, the other surviving Stooge may see himself as training wheels on a Jun/Jee bicycle and try to get Alison in a pair, leaving three dyads to fight it out.
So for those of us who like a little credible strategy interspersed with the bed-hopping, spit-swapping, insecurity-revealing, self-obsessing, catty-behaving, violent-outbursting, and lying and denying typical of this house, maybe we ought to stay tuned (or at least continue to read the regular RealityNewsOnline wrap-ups and the live feed reports).
Want to keep up with important events in the house? Check out our Big Brother 4 Spoiler Page for news on who wins contests and other ongoing info.
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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