Celebrity Big Brother and the toxic masculinity stink bomb
Reality TV: The arrival of Dapper Laughs – aka Daniel O’Reilly – has signalled the death knell to the relative peace in this year’s Celebrity Big Brother house
Daniel O’Reilly – aka Dapper Laughs – didn’t waste long getting back to the business of 'banter'. Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire
Like a distant uncle turning up drunk at a wake who then attempts to kiss the corpse, the arrival of Dapper Laughs (aka Daniel O’Reilly) has signalled the death knell to the relative peace in this year’s Celebrity Big Brother house.
Yes, India Willoughby may have been confrontational and Ann Widdecombe is acting entirely according to type with her musty, conservative views and her irritatingly contrary presence but the first week of internment also yielded surprising conversations about intersectionality, gender and sexuality mostly fielded by an ever-patient Shane Jenek/Courtney Act.
Rather than let this season become the enlightened twin of ITV’s Loose Women or a nightly forum where Shane Lynch from Boyzone gently considers genderqueer theory, instead a stink bomb of toxic masculinity has been unleashed.
Only hours after his entrance, Dapper didn’t waste any opportunity to butt into quiet chats braying on and on about his savaging through social media and how the rape “banter” of his stand-up show was misinterpreted.
Angling for an all-important reality-show redemption arc (and subsequent career resuscitation) he spoke of his wife, he wept, he even anointed Shane Jenek as “one of the boys”, with everyone rhapsodising about how the cheeky comedian was injecting some fun into the house.
By the end of the week, and growing more comfortable in his surroundings, it was back to the business of “banter”, the booming tenor of his voice that echoes the familiar aggressive hum of closing time, holding court about who out of the women could “handle” themselves in bed and predicting that rapper Ginuwine would soon be “hanging out the back” of socialite Ashley James.
With his swivel eyes constantly observing the other housemates and his snarling face like an undercooked omelette that’s slowly curling inwards, his dominating presence has curtailed any kind of nuanced conversation or newly evoked compassion.
This vacant desire to be thought of as a “top lad” has begun to eat away at Apprentice failure Andrew Brady, who has spent most of his time in a state of bemused wonderment that he, a heterosexual man, could possibly find a drag queen attractive. Brady has trotted after Shane J’s luminous alter-ego Courtney Act like a giggly teen but as the series progresses his true motivations are beginning to be uncovered and they’re not all that innocent.
Although the two have enjoyed a silly flirtation, there is the distinct impression that Brady is keenly aware of Shane/Courtney’s popularity and is revelling in the cache of being seen as a broadminded, woke housemate and anticipating the air time and headlines their relationship has generated, as a opposed to the tired “showmance” of Ginuwine and Ashley James. His obsession with the authenticity of other housemates is only serving to highlight his own shrewd behaviour.
Meanwhile this burgeoning friendship and flirtation between Brady and Shane/Courtney has been much commented on by Dapper, usually accompanied by a confused shake of his head or a joke about Brady’s stupidity.
Hanging around the garden smoking with Dapper, Brady immediately folds back into being an anonymous, offensive sheep of a boy cackling and making crude comments about gay men while a dazzling Courtney sits in front of him listening to every word. This moment capturing a triptych of modern masculinity in all its fragility in Celebrity Big Brother’s supposed year of the woman. Dapper Laughs but the joke was never funny to begin with.