Reality Confessions – Zach, Frankie, Big Brother, Social Media Narcissism & The Present Age

Frankie (front row speedo) & Zach (front row striped shorts) and the Big Brother meltdown confession hour.
Big Brother 16 Cast: Frankie (front row speedo), Zach (front row striped shorts), Caleb (front row pink shorts), Cody (back row blue shorts) & Derrick (back row beige shorts).

I need to come clean about something… I watch Big Brother.  Both the US & Canadian ones.  It’s my reality TV drug of choice.  And what went down last night is exactly why.  For 2 hours drama unfolded that if all the camera feeds were edited together could make an excellent documentary on narcissism in the social media age.

I’m not a hardcore fanatic.  I don’t watch all the live feeds or remember the alliance names, or even the cast member’s names once they aren’t on the show.  Nor am I really interested in the competitions they make them endure and the “twists”.  At least not on the US show, the Canadian show has a really creative production team and seem to be pulling together some great stuff (Marsha the Moose!).  Plus the “house” itself has been outstandingly art directed.  I digress.

I watch Big Brother because it’s a really fascinating social experiment.  I like to see people forced to share a really confined space with others from very different backgrounds.  Sometimes it goes amazingly well, ie: BBCan Season 2 where a Palestinian, a Jewish girl, a Muslim & a Newfie all celebrated Passover & Easter dinners in harmony while learning about each other’s culture.  Or that both Canadian seasons have had men in drag and not one comment was made about it from in- or outside the house.  Other times it goes terribly wrong, ie: everything that happened in 2013 which resulted in BBUS racist cast members finding out their real jobs had fired them.

Last night I was about to go to bed when “Big Brother After Dark” came on the channel I was watching.  If a person wants to they can watch the house unedited for 2 hours every night.  Mostly it’s just people late night snacking and is pretty boring.  So when the screen suddenly cut to the two cuddliest bromance dudes in the house (Zach & Frankie… a.k.a. Zankie) screaming at each other with one yelling “You’re more full of shit than a dildo coming out of my ass!” I had to watch.

Essentially one of the cast mates, Frankie, has been hiding the fact that he is Ariana Grande’s brother the whole season.  So when he did some shady things and backed himself into a corner suddenly it was time to come clean in hopes of distracting the angry mob.  Then I had to text my friend who doesn’t have cable and was missing the whole thing.  These are those texts trying to recapture the utter insanity of pink hair dye and fury those who were still awake channel surfing got to see.

  • So much shit is going down on Big Brother After Dark. Frankie & Zach are having a screaming swearing fight.
  • The dudes all realized Frankie was trying to get them out & everyone blew up.  So Frankie flipped it around, came clean about his sister, played the “poor me it’s been so stressful hiding how famous I am but also I’m doing this so I can build schools in Africa and my grandfather dying really messed up my game” card.
  • He tried to say he was protecting his family, but also bragged about his YouTube followers and how he’s a “professional personality”.
    The best part? The guys were like “Who’s Ariana Grande?”
  • AND now they’re like this makes it worse because not only were you lying this week YOU WERE LYING ABOUT EVERYTHING!
    Zach is genuinely upset.
  • Did I mention this is all happening with him in a face full of purple glitter?
  • Tears to “oh yeah I’m sure Victoria knows I’m famous” in under sixty seconds!
  • There was a commercial.
    When it came back Caleb was negotiating to have Frankie take him to Justin Bieber’s house.
    Also I should mention Caleb is wearing eye black during this.
    And Derrick’s in a suit.
    And Cody looks like he just wants to ask about Zac Efron.
  • He literally just talked about her album dropping. And now he’s singing it. Oh wait THERE’S CHOREOGRAPHY.
  • Oooooh Zach is back.  They’re screaming
    “I LOVE YOU!”
  • Frankie: But guys, let’s just keep it in this room, ok? (beat) Should I just tell them? Victoria’s gonna die!
  • Meanwhile the girls are hanging out in the bathroom talking about shopping and return policies. (ed note: why After Dark is LAME)
    Frankie, remember this is crying, hugging, “I’m so stressed out from hiding my life of fame” a minute ago, Frankie… walks across the whole house and exclaimed “Girls! Alright, you guys ready? Ready for my big reveal?!  Come to the living room BECAUSE THE CAMERAS HERE AREN’T IN THE RIGHT PLACE.”
  • And so the guys are heading off to do their own thing because they’ve now heard it and Frankie goes, “No! No! Come over and watch!”
  • Oh wait, did I mention how he keeps saying he’s a “mogul”?  Quickly followed by the fact he has 1.5 Million followers.
  • And again he went from “my grandfather dying made me so upset that I said my sister’s real name and my whole centre was thrown off and I was broken” to choreography and humming “Problem” BEFORE HE HAD EVEN TAKEN ANOTHER BREATH.
  • Meanwhile Zach is alone in another room visibly upset.  Donnie is staying with him.
    In the big room Victoria is SCREAMING and they’re now BFFs.
  • Oh no but wait… it’s been an hour of this and he just said “it really doesn’t matter, whatever that means to you it’s just my life” all casually.
  • I wish you could see this.  He’s stroking his pink tips and talking about how he was the one who changed the family name from Grand(EE) to Grand(AY) so it wouldn’t rhyme with Frankie and the family followed his lead.
  • Meanwhile the guys are now in another room all like THIS DUDE IS SHADY AS FUCK. They’ve figured out he’s covering for his lies by distracting them with other lies.
  • Derrick “I didn’t come here to meet a pop star’s brother. I left my wife & kid for this.”
    Smartly Derrick is still keeping quiet about the fact that he’s an undercover cop. DERRICK FTW!
  • Frankie: do you know how stressful it was to hear Hayden talk about having 1500 followers and not be able to tell him like… uh
  • Also “I was planning on telling everyone all day”… (ed. note: bullshit)  I think Frankie overestimated the guys understanding why he lied.  They’re all like “he doesn’t respect us”.
  • Derrick to Caleb (re: Ariana): You have no shot with her.
    Caleb: Really? Me?
    (Derrick explains that professional athletes and movie stars probably hit on her all the time)
    Caleb: Well if she doesn’t like country music I wouldn’t want her anyway.  But man a shout out on twitter from him with all those followers would be cool.
    Derrick: He didn’t say his sister was Madonna.  He said she was Ariana Grande and you didn’t even know who that was.*
    Serious long hug with Frankie & Caleb.  Derrick tells Frankie he’s obligated to work with him because of Team America (ed. note: a twist).
    Frankie looks directly into camera raises his right hand and says “the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God”.
  • Zach: Why don’t we just give money to his charity and vote him out.

*Derrick in one sentence summed up the entirety of why I was so glued to watching this all happen.  It has nothing to do with Frankie Grande the human being.  By their own admission all of the cast has said that they think he’s genuinely a good person who just executed a terrible strategy.  After everything went on Derrick summed things up pretty well.  Frankie went from the whole house loving him, to the whole house hating him, so he thought he’d make this big honesty plea but it was just further manipulation.  On the one hand there might be those who feel pity for the fact that he did have to hide who he was related to so it didn’t make him a huge target.  On the other there might also be those who are hoping if they keep him around they’ll be invited to hang out with famous people.  Or at the very least get to up their twitter follower count.

So this is the age we live in now.  Where status is judged by gold stars and thumbs up.  And a person can, with a straight face, refer to themselves as a mogul because they make Vine videos.

I leave you with a quote from Søren Kierkegaard’s The Present Age (1846)

“The age of great and good actions is past, the present is the age of anticipation when even recognition is received in advance.”