by David Bloomberg -- 09/19/2007 link
Dick made it all
the way through Big Brother 8 with daughter Daniele and ended up taking
home the big prize. But that final vote cannot excuse the way he acted along the
way. Dick was one of the most obnoxious, crude, and vile personalities to ever
appear on reality TV, and the Reality TV Hall of Shame would be remiss if we did
not induct him. Read on to find out all the reasons, including many that never
made it to your TV screen.
The eighth season of Big Brother has seen more than its fair share of representation here in the Reality TV Hall of Shame. Not one, not two, but three houseguests have already been inducted: Dustin, Mike, and Jen.
But as unprecedented as it is, we now have a fourth to add. What’s perhaps worse is that this induction is for the winner of Big Brother 8! Yes, Dick Donato is being inducted into the Reality TV Hall of Shame.
The inductions over the course of Big Brother 8 have been for different reasons. Mike and Dustin were similar in that both related to strategy and them putting their game lives on the line when they didn’t have to – and losing because of it. Jen’s induction was more behavior-related as she was the first person ever penalized on a U.S. Big Brother.
In response to Jen’s induction, the Hall of Shame received quite a bit of e-mail saying, in essence, “What about Dick?” Some of you even assumed that because we hadn’t inducted Dick already, that meant he was getting a free pass. Nope, as you’ll notice, the Hall of Shame almost always waits until contestants are done with their time in the game before inducting them – if for no other reason than so we have the full story.
But Dick isn’t being inducted just because a lot of people didn’t like him. For one thing, it’s obvious that a lot of people also did like him, as the game turned because the viewer vote for America’s Player was so obviously biased towards Dick, right up to the last vote telling Eric to convince the jury to award the game to Dick.
No, this induction is based on Dick’s behavior throughout the game. He is not being put into the Hall of Shame for poor strategy, but rather for the horrible way he treated his fellow contestants.
The list of Dick’s actions and words is too long to go over in complete detail here. Some of it made it to TV, but a lot of it did not. A quick jog over to YouTube will find any number of Dick attacks if you want to relive them. But let’s talk about a few.
We all know how he treated Jen throughout much of the show – like crap. Many people, including those in the house, didn’t like Jen, so not much of a big deal was made out of it at the time. Indeed, many people found Dick’s dumping of iced tea over her head rather amusing.
But there was a larger pattern to Dick’s behavior towards her. He didn’t just target her in the game, he attacked her personally and viciously. He made crude and unnecessary comments about her personal hygiene, such as telling her to close her legs because flies were gathering. He added statements like, “I hope you die a slow, horrible death.” This is not, “I hope you are voted out,” this is not a game comment.
What was even worse was when a number of the houseguests got mad at Jen for apparently trying to blackmail Amber into not helping Dick and Daniele in the veto competition. Dick joined in the attack and added one of his most vicious statements: “I can’t wait to feel the bones in your throat crushing between my fingers.” Again, this was not, “I can’t wait to vote you out.” This was an incredibly nasty, literally murderous comment.
Of course, Jen was not his only target. He personally attacked pretty much every houseguest other than his daughter. With Jameka, it was her religious beliefs. With Amber, it was her past drug use and her daughter (often used together, such as Dick suggesting she might have burned her daughter with her crack pipe). He similarly suggested that Eric had used drugs and further needed prescription medicine to keep himself sane. Mind you, this is Dick we’re talking about, so all of these “suggestions” were not just simple discussions, but screaming, in-their-face mocking.
Dustin took some of the worst abuse other than Jen. When Dick was nominated against Daniele and it looked like one of them would go home, Dick went from his normal obnoxious self to one of the worst people in all of reality TV history.
No longer was he content with just being blunt and nasty. He banged pots inches away from Dustin while he was trying to sleep. He practically stalked Dustin. In the midst of the pot-banging episode, Dick told Dustin that Dustin was Dick’s “bitch” that day and Dick would “f*** you ‘til you bleed, and I know you’ll like it [and] ask for more.” He then went on to call Dustin “little queenie” and “princess” while affecting a mock effeminate voice.
And these were just a few of Dick’s lowlights.
Some people may defend Dick by saying he did these things for what normally would be considered good reasons – he wanted to defend his daughter and/or take the spotlight off of her. Other times he attacked people for strategic reasons, such as when he went after Kail shortly before a crucial veto competition (the Mad Hatter one) and she was so shaken (literally) that she could not stand still and quickly lost.
But frankly, these are all only so many excuses. Dick could have defended his daughter’s honor against Jen without dumping a drink on her. He could have been angry at Jen without purposely blowing smoke in her face or making crude remarks. He could have ensured he would be evicted instead of Daniele without instigating a massive attack on the other houseguests.
And sometimes, his attacks had nothing to do with the game whatsoever. He and Daniele spent much of their last few days in the house talking about and making fun of previous houseguests. Special attention was given to Jen, of course, but nobody could claim that any of that was related to strategy.
I do want to address the point that some viewers have brought up, indicating their thoughts that Dick should have been thrown out of the house. At one point, Jen read aloud from the Big Brother rulebook, saying “serious physical threats” and “intimidation” are not allowed. There has been debate among some viewers about whether Dick’s behavior rose to this level. Other houseguests didn’t seem to think so – at least when it was happening to Jen.
The terms are so vague as to be virtually impossible for us to interpret, giving producers quite a bit of leeway in their decisions. For example, was his statement about crushing Jen’s throat a “serious” threat? The producers would probably say no, he didn’t have the intent to do it.
Was his behavior “intimidation”? Dictionary.com has three definitions for the word: “1. to make timid; fill with fear. 2. to overawe or cow, as through the force of personality or by superior displays of wealth, talent, etc. 3. to force into or deter by some action by inducing fear.” Even with everything Dick did, I do not believe any of the houseguests were ever in “fear” of him. For example, while Jen certainly didn’t like being told he hoped she would die a slow and horrible death or that in the real world he would have planted his foot up her @$$, she never seemed to really think he would do anything like that in the house.
And the houseguests certainly were not “overawed”! So at least according to the rules Jen read to us, the producers had grounds on which to not penalize Dick or boot him from the house. However, merely being (barely) within the rather vague rules does not excuse his behavior.
Another rules issue came up in an untelevised portion of the show when his son, Vincent, sent him a coded letter in violation of the rules. The letter was given to Dick for his “fast forward” HOH stint, and Vincent coded information to tell Dick whom he could trust in the house. As it turned out, Vincent focused on Jessica and Eric, the two houseguests Dick and Daniele had just voted out, so the information was worthless. The producers used this as a reason to not penalize Dick. Some viewers who knew about this have targeted the producers for criticism because of this issue, and it is probably deserved.
But the focus here is on Dick himself. The fact remains that he tried to cheat and apparently violated the rules of Big Brother. This therefore has to be added to his Hall of Shame induction – not to mention his own stupidity for talking about it in a house filled with cameras and microphones!
Dick played the game by being almost completely out in the open about what he was doing. When he had a problem with somebody, he bluntly went directly to them about it. But that behavior lost whatever luster it might have had when he moved from strategy to the area of vicious and unnecessary personal attacks.
Often, the entire staff of the Reality TV Hall of Shame does not agree on an induction. However, Dick’s behavior was so vile that not a single objection was raised when his nomination was brought forward. Dick’s behavior has already been rewarded with half a million dollars. But the Hall of Shame cannot ignore the way he acted en route to that prize. Therefore, we must give him his unfortunately well-earned induction.