Eleven weeks of twenty four-hour reality TV featuring adult strangers sharing a comfortable physical space, competing in suffer-head-ism, quarrelling about dislikes, and hooking up randomly, comes to an end on Sunday.
Until the house is trimmed down to five finalists, housemates are (rightly) judged by their standing with the viewing public. But when it comes down to crowning who brings the draw to the show, who provides the buzz for the ratings and viewership numbers, and who represents the – dare I say – values of the show, the ability of one housemate’s fans to mobilize airtime for votes, sometimes offering ‘stomach infrastructure’ to encourage the undecided, would not seem a fair way to crown the champion.
Cee-C, the knotty housemate apparently hated by all, deserves more accolades than people are willing to give her. She would not be an appealing winner, but she would be the worthy winner.
This is no ‘BBNaija Expert’ opinion. Fifteen minutes is all I have given to the entire season; the bills are paid by attention to other endeavours. However, the youth-capture achieved by the show deserves commentary. Without doubt, we should gain insight into the decision-making of young Nigerians by observing, even if from a distance, their keenness for the show.
Hence, it is important that the right winner emerges, one who, I dare to repeat, best represents the values of the show. Miracle does not. To crown him is to rekindle the ‘no-shoes’ brand of sentiment behind Efe’s victory last year over the arguably more worthy winners Bisola and T-Boss. As can be gauged from the main talking points in the House, BBNaija’s winner should not so much depend on a housemate’s conformity to the “nice” model, or how well one positions himself as needing the money most, or how her name means “destined” to win. It will amount to a nod to the way a certain Nigerian president was voted for having no shoes, and nearly retained for having an enchanted name that was supposed to evoke riches.
It is even more important now, in the build-up to another election, when there are vigorous campaigns to distract from the current president’s inability to attract good ratings to the country. Those who want him to stay say, given the resources he has had, the achievements of the last three years have been miraculous. They also affirm that his re-election is necessary for corruption not to return.
Perhaps that is how many feel about Cee-C, as an out-of-order lady whose persona is unsuited to victory and glory. But to not give her the deserved credit as winner is to reveal the show for what it is: the exploitation of vice sell virtue. Like T-Boss before her, Cee-C is the character perfectly “crazy” for gathering massive attention but “not nice” enough to win. Actor must win boss. Good must trump Evil.
But is there anything “good” about BBNaija? Do we really want young Nigerians, who make up about 60% of the population, spending eleven of every year’s fifty-two weeks (about 20%) engulfed in work-place conversations and online analysis of reality TV? When they do, does it sting them that the show continues to be held in a foreign country due to the diabolical infrastructural inefficiencies in their country, or are they finalising plans to move to Canada and keep watching from there?
Is there anything “good” about the promotion of the hook-up culture, something now being shown up as a bane in modern societies? Boy meets girl, and the first on the list of many things they are expected to share is sex. Will anybody watch BBNaija if all housemates come to the House with vows of chastity they fully intend to keep? Will such housemates even be chosen in the first place, even if they have other capabilities, mental and physical, that should make for interesting and educative television? Do we really want the exaltation of casual sex as the goal to be desired between young people, when their country lacks the sociological and institutional foundations that make such culture thrive? (“Thrive” used here with regret).
In those “thriving” societies, hook-up culture was not the foundation of their socio-economic and political progress, but rather one of the accidents of other factors: academic freedom and freedom of expression, citizen-driven participatory democracy, equal citizenship and the rule of Law, education and healthcare. None of these has taken root in Nigeria (many don’t even know what academic freedom is in the first place) and it is precisely the kind of energy and focus required for it that has been invested in BBNaija. Without these foundations, we cannot be certain that the lessons and encouragement taken from the show by young people (including children who maneuver parental control) will bear good results. Rape, depression… If the foundation be destroyed, etc.
A homeless man should not be investing in Beyonce’s Coachella wallpapers. Eleven weeks is too much to devote to the journey of ‘good triumphs evil’ via red-lit streets laced with French letters. The Nigerian youth should be doing more to address the ills on his/her street and in becoming better lettered to compete globally. BBNaija and other shows like it currently in the pipeline are no good distractions from the frustration of politicians, as some would say. Unilke movies or sport, they don’t call attention or contribute to the nuts and bolts of societal development.
“But they remind us of how nice people win in the end?”. No dear, they only help postpone the evil day.
By Alexander O. Onukwue | Follow @inquizimedia on Facebook and Twitter