Saturday, November 20, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Security Guards vs. Conventional Wisdom

Željko (Zeljko) and Alen are nominated and most people expect Željko to be evicted next Friday. First on-line polls showed Alen having a clear advantage – between 55 – 75 % people prefer Željko out. This isn't hard to explain – Alen is the biggest clown in the House and, as such, he is the most popular among the audience who see show as "too boring".

So, the conventional wisdom says that Željko is on the way out.

Yet, despite all that conventional wisdom, Željko remaining in House after Friday wouldn't be much of surprise.

The easiest way for the reality to defy conventional wisdom is Alen himself. Just like Krešo (Kreso) a month ago, his manic clownishness was matched with periods of deep depression. The most serious row with Marina, nomination itself and his realisation that his own actions could have led to it could push Alen over the edge. Last night he appeared to be devastated. It would take at least few days for him to really deal with the situation and it is quite possible that he would simply crack under pressure and ask for voluntary departure.

Alen doesn't even need to ask for departure to leave. He might channel his frustration in the most unpleasant or even violent way and thus get an express eviction. Or he might even succumb to the catatonia that could erase all sympathies that he had prior to Friday.

Another avenue for Željko to win this contest might have something in common with one of many conspiracy theories that have appeared among disgruntled Sanja's fans after last night. While some blamed everything on RTL Televizija, T-Com and vote tampering, others offered more rational explanation very much like the one used after November 2nd in USA – "conservative", "bigot", "patriarchal", "homophobic", "racist" Croatia that couldn't stand someone as open-minded and progressive as Sanja.

The most interesting (and, in a way, most convincing) of all conspiracy theories concentrated on Željko's professional background of security guard. It is speculated that Željko's enjoyed support among some of his friends and colleagues who later used their access to company phones to send as many votes as possible and thus help one of their own.

This theory might look far-fetched to some, but it does make some sort of sense. Most of Croatia's security guards are men in their 20s or 30s who come from lower-income blue-collar background. Most of those who call in late night radio talk-shows also happen to be security guards or on-duty policemen, firemen etc. And most of those people happen to have rather rigid right-wing views and it is unlikely that they would greet someone like Sanja with much of the enthusiasm. Željko might be more open-minded and tolerant towards gays and other minorities than them, but in a way they see him as their brother-in-arms – impoverished blue-collar young man who got shafted by "posh" and "decadent" spoiled children of Croatia's nouveau riche which happen to represent majority in Big Brother House. Voting for Željko at someone else's expense and spoiling someone else's party might be the easiest and the most entertaining form of striking back at the establishment.


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