Shower hour on Big Brother

2014-03-23 10:00

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Mandlexi get their 15 minutes of fame – and then some

Big Brother Mzansi housemates seem to live by the boldest of American essayist Gore Vidal’s famous pieces of advice: “Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television.”

The reality TV show converges the two elements in Vidal’s instruction – the housemates have sex while on TV.

A week ago, two housemates – Mandla and Lexi – became the subject of a social-media storm following their second sexual encounter.

Their first was marked by Mandla, who appeared on screen asking Big Brother for morning-after pills, a feat that indicated the pair had unprotected sex.

The latest sexual spectacle saw them getting steamy in a shower. Many viewers responded by charging that the show has devolved into pornography.

The couple has since been dubbed Mandlexi. Their two-week relationship evolved out of a sensual massage Mandla gave Lexi and has since grown to include all the trappings of an affectionate courtship – from morning cuddles to late-night talks and shared showers.

Some have described their behaviour as “PDAs” (public displays of affection).

In an article studying PDAs and etiquette, CNN reports that when actor Richard Gere held Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in his arms and kissed her several times during an Aids awareness event in New Delhi, India, an Indian court responded to the public smooch by issuing a warrant for his arrest.

While Gere’s behaviour was modest by Hollywood standards, it outraged Indian sensibilities. The same article argues PDAs that go beyond holding hands, arms around the waist or closed-mouth kissing are out of order.

Big Brother housemates have taken it a few notches up. The Collins English Dictionary defines pornography as such: “noun writings, pictures, films, etc, designed to stimulate sexual excitement.” The Mandlexi situation fits this description like a glove.

According to local clinical sexologist Dr Eve, the affair reflects the nature of reality shows.

“The question is always: when are they going to have sex? You can’t throw people in a house for 91 days and not expect them to have sex,” she says. “There is always that undercurrent of attraction and checking each other out when strangers are made to share space.

“What the show has created is an environment that reflects the reality of our daily lives. The reality is that sex is seldom planned and it is unbelievably irresponsible that people don’t use protection. It is a bomb ready to go off?...?The housemates have access to condoms and they choose not to use them.”

There are dangers that come with participating in these kinds of shows, according to Dr Eve.

“To be chosen for a reality show of this format already says you are willing to be on display and earn your 15 minutes of fame. This is a part of a huge fantasy for people to grab the attention of the world with the cameras on them 24/7 and capitalise on that. The danger is that there is a lessened control of impulses and fewer inhibitions, especially with alcohol involved,” she says.

But whatever our personal kneejerk reactions to Big Brother Mzansi’s sexcapades might be, Dr Eve says: “I don’t see anything wrong with the sex act as long as it is between adults. And if they agree to it, what’s the harm?”

– Additional reporting by Lesley Mofokeng

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