Who would have thought it'd be Big Brother 6 that would set the stage for the most relevant exploration of Iraqi-American relations seen yet on American TV? Into the constructed house producers sent Eric, quickly rechristened "Cappy," a macho lunkhead firefighter with a fondness for familial references, and Kaysar, an Iraqi-American and practicing Muslim who gets out of bed way, way early in the morning to pray toward Mecca. Within two weeks, the house had split in half.
Cappy so excellently personified that American mentality of equating a larger moral system with personal motives, and thus, anybody who set out to impede his wishes was suddenly unethical. He charged through the house barking about honor and decency, and possessed seemingly little awareness that when you are playing a game not for the good of mankind but for one million dollars, notions of morality are about as useful as they are when you're ganking Park Avenue properties in Monopoly. But to admit that he, too, was playing a public relations game would crack the puffery of his facade, so Cappy instead started converting. The members of his half of the household acted like kittens that he just rescued from big elm trees. They mewed for his guidance, looking blindly to him to help them rise above the tactics of those evildoers represented by the other half of the household. With his gleaming head and pecs, they saw him as their honest savior, bleating that victory wouldn't be worth having unless it was somehow righteous.
Kaysar was quiet when he came into the house, and thus, was targeted for elimination within the first three days. It always befuddles me that on every season the housemates, without fail, become most threatened by those people who hang back a little during the getting-to-know-you period. If it was me, I'd want the big talkers out ASAP. If a house-guest is yapping off your ear within the first hour of having met you, don't you think you're going to want to kill him by day thirty-two, when all you'd like to do is nap, float in the pool, and pretend you actually have some personal space? Housemates said that they were uneasy about Kaysar's shyness, but there's no doubt they were especially uneasy about his prayer rug, his restricted diet, his ethnicity, his religion, his history, his habits, and, that term that all semiotics professors love so much that they work it into everything- his "otherness." So, within very little time, he was considered uncool.
Because the hours and hours of Big Brother footage are edited into a narrative, they require structure. Each season CBS manages this most easily by embracing the trusty, longstanding archetypal battle between good and evil. The producers always take sides. So far, this season the show has decided to align itself with the outcast, and this is a wise decision, since the struggle of the outcast is always more fertile ground than that of the steamroller. CBS is basically following the storytelling guidelines of Rocky, except it won't let in the climactic violence. Kaysar's best friend and ally, Michael, almost came to blows with Cappy while in the backyard, and instantly a mysterious, producerial voice was on the intercom, demanding that the two men go to opposite corners of the house. If the powers that be were less concerned with lawsuits, there would have been some Lord Of The Flies style bashing, as contestants really do seem to lose their heads and bearings once placed on the valley set. Plus, the all peanut butter and jelly diet must screw with the brain a little.
Kaysar, no angel either, had his own romantic collection of game values in place, so it's not like he was just pointing at Cappy and rolling his eyes at him for being such a doof. His desire to play the game without breaking religious tenets made him a principled player as well, but his bloatedness came from a different source. Whereas Cappy was all about pointing to the moral ideals he insisted he maintains outside of the house, Kaysar became all about ideals that pointed to how shitty Cappy was behaving. In this lone relationship you could make out the tensions between larger groups of people-- between those who hold themselves as the highest world authority, and those who are so turned off by this self-prescribed dominance that defeating it becomes an obsession.
The house-guests nicknamed Kaysar "King Kaysar," which points, yes again, to his "otherness," whereas Eric's nickname, Cappy, makes him sounds like he's the next dancing, wall-busting mascot for Kool-Aid. Initially, Kaysar's troops were small, consisting of a simple trifecta: himself, his best friend from Irvine (hometown shout-out to me) Michael, and bodacious blond and Michael's love-interest, Janelle. These three were like embodiments of those cries popularized by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge-- Truth (Kaysar), Beauty (Janelle), Freedom (Michael, who's a "sculptor" and was born in Europe), and Love (Janelle + Michael making out in a hammock). Janelle was a particularly interesting addition to the outcasts, since in the outside world, and by outside world I mean Miami, where she lives, I'm pretty sure that she doesn't have any trouble finding company. However, because she immediately recognized Cappy's swollen rhetoric for what it was- good, old-fashioned, U.S.A.-bred hot air- she found herself outside the inner sanctum of his fan club.
Now that Kaysar's strategic maneuvering outed Cappy last week, Cappy's loyal soldier, Maggie, has taken over his cause. Fanatical about her "captain, my captain," she appears to feel his pain more strongly than her own, and I firmly believe that she would definitely give a pinky for him, maybe even some toes. And she's gunning for Kaysar.
But let's get to the really important stuff. Where's Julie Chen, you're wondering? Oh, she's still off in that little guesthouse thing, wearing her space hooker outfits and being completely useless (it wasn't even her who came over the intercom to break up the fight, since she was probably at Nobu). A few months back I heard Howard Stern talking about how he ran into her and her boyfriend, CBS head honcho Les Moonves, in a designer boutique, and how she was just trying on outfit after outfit for Les as he watched appreciatively. I think this is basically what she's still doing on Big Brother. She's modeling different clothes, and Les is sitting there, just off screen, nodding and mouthing, "Baby, you look hot."