The political significance of Big Brother

June 24, 2008 at 5:58 am | Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment

Not an oxymoron, it turns out. Johann Hari watches it so you don’t have to:

If you were told the biographies of Big Brother contestants Mohamed Mohamed and Alex De-Gale, you wouldn’t find it hard to guess which one is the fundamentalist. Mohamed was born in Somalia in 1985. When he was five years old, he saw his mother being held at gunpoint, and thought she was going to die. Since then, he has spent most of his life fleeing from one civil war to another – until, finally, he was granted asylum in Britain. De-Gale was born in the same year in south London, to black British parents. She is now a lithe accounts executive with high cheekbones, short skirts, a BMW, and a seven-year old daughter she brings up on her own.

You guessed wrong. They wouldn’t use these terms, but Mohamed became a convinced secularist on the run from Somalia, while Alex learned a Wahhabbi interpretation of Islam on the streets of Tottenham. This emerged, as everything does on Big Brother, through a thicket of trivia. Mohamed’s birthday fell a week into his stay in the Big Brother house, so the producers threw him a party, and let him pick the theme. Remembering a fun night he’d had at university, he said he wanted the male housemates to dress as women, and vice versa. Everyone cheered and howled for alcohol.

Except Alex. “First and foremost,” she said, “I am a Muslim.” And that meant the idea of a man dressing as a woman “made me feel sick”. Jabbing her finger and shouting, she said to Mohamed: “Tell it to Allah [that] it’s all in the name of fun. It’s bad enough that we drink and smoke … You’re supposed to be a Muslim man, someone I can look up to for guidance. You will have my friends and family in uproar. I am disgraced by you … 85 per cent of the people I know are Muslims. And trust me – the sheer horror they would have experienced … [You have] disgraced Islam.”

More here

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