Normally I leave Big Brother commentary to those who are better at it than I am, but I just can’t leave last Sunday’s eviction show without commenting on it.
For those that did not see it, the 5th evictee, Merlin, walked down the plank to the stage. He put gaffa tape on his mouth, help up a sign “free the refugees” and refused to talk to Gretel (who handled it fabulously given the circumstances), with sexy results.
Now, there were two great things that came out of this show. Firstly, it showed tremendous courage on Merlin’s part. Secondly, I think it showed a new, young side of Australia that is really encouraging — and rare — to see on national television.
When Merlin jumped out of the car, you could see that he was extremely nervous. There were thousands (is it thousands? I looked like it) of people cheering him on. He fiddled with the sign and the tape for a while and everyone was collectively wondering “what the hell is he up to?”. And then he pulled it out. A shitty sign with “Free the Refugees” on it. And it gets better… he WALKED RIGHT PAST GRETEL AND SAT DOWN, gaffa tape on, and refused to talk. I nearly peed my pants from that one! But you could see it in his eyes — he looked like he wanted to cry, apologise and take it all back, but he stood his ground.
I just have to say that it was phenomenally brave of Merlin to do such a thing, with the audience booing (why?!), and Gretel trying to salvage what was left of the eviction show. It was one of those great moments in television… where a leftie got one over the big guys 🙂
The main thing that surprised me, however, is the way the housemates reacted to Merlin’s message. We hear on talkback radio that refugees are “dangerous terrorists”, that the majority of Australians support mandatory detention, and that to support their freedom would be “unAustralian”. But I saw something very different. For me it showed a huge cultural shift that represents how Generation X & Y are ignored in public debate. Sure, Big Brother is hardly representative of young Australia, but its all we’ve got for now… and I liked what I saw. People who were tolerant of Merlin’s opinion (and most even agreed with him), had great respect for him and defended him over and over.
The way the housemates reacted gave me more than pure voyeuristic pleasure — it gave me a sense of confidence that things will eventually be ok. Baby boomers dominate the political scene, and whilst it is their democratic right to do so, we often lose sight of the younger generations’ opinions — generally opinions supportive of multiculturalism, diversity, postmodern theory, and most importantly, a strong sense of justice.
It sure made me feel good for a fleeting moment. Of course, then I read the newspaper again and I turned into a frustrated young person again. But hey, it was a special moment, even if it did only last an hour.
Good on ya Merlin…