Like new brides rearranging their new homes, on the first day of the Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) Level Up reality show, the housemates took turns sharing their likes and dislikes, introducing themselves and spreading the love. But even then, they were clear that their love had limits.
From the Real Housewives of Lagos (RHOL) to the Gulder Ultimate Search, part of the appeal of reality shows is that one character almost instantaneously inhabits the role of the villain. For BBNaija obsessives, even on that first day, it was clear that Beauty Etsanyi Tukura, the former Miss Nigeria would be the villain.
She said that she didn’t want trouble. She said that she would retaliate if she got trouble from any of the other housemates. She warned that the other housemates should not cross her path.
Barely two weeks into the show, her path had been crossed, and she had been disqualified.
In one scene, she yanked off the wig of a fellow housemate whom she said had crossed her path. In another rage, she destroyed Big Brother’s property. In another scene, she announced that somehow she was the victim, and it was the housemates who had triggered her to violence.
This past Sunday she got two strikes, bringing her total number of strikes to three and was disqualified from the show. By Monday, a handful of fans had started chanting #BringBackBeauty.
Days later, her management team had scribbled together a statement posted on her Instagram saying that “the love has been overwhelming.”
A history of toxicity
Beauty is not the first cast of a reality show in Nigeria to have been disqualified for making the set violent. Particularly on the #BBNaija show, there have been a series of them who have pushed the villain character over the top.
Just two seasons ago, there was Erica Nlewedim, who violently attacked housemates, poured water on housemates’ beds and destroyed Big Brother’s property. After she was disqualified, over $27,000 had been crowdfunded for her by fans on Go Fund Me. She also somehow landed deals with brands like Kuda Bank and SuperKomando.
In 2019, Anita Natacha Akide known as Tacha, famous for the quip, “No Leave, No Transfer” was disqualified for aggravating her fellow housemates multiple times. In spite of other housemates, she sent her supporters to task by posting a link to a Go Fund Me, with the aim of raising one hundred thousand pounds.
Full-blown toxicity, the type that is not hard to distinguish on the fast streets of the TL, has always sold until now. For many of the fans of the show, it was more than glaring that Beauty had gone too far. And so hours after Beauty was disqualified from the show, fans of BBNaija found solidarity on Twitter, indeed relieved that she was out.
“Anybody that opens a GoFundMe account for Beauty should be arrested, anybody that sends money to the GoFundMe account should also be arrested,” one user chimed. “It will not be well with anyone that will open GoFundMe for Beauty,” another ranted.
For those that know BBNaija and its fanbase too well, any comment on or off social media bares the mark “at owner’s risk,” so much so that core fans open so-called fake accounts to post their honest opinions about the show. And so that people could speak freely against Beauty on the internet highlights how far she took it.
But wasn’t it the same social media that now chooses to spit her out, that created characters like Beauty?
Did social media ask for this?
The model of social media is such that it demands users at least active users to fall into form. For a user to be truly influential on social media, that user must step into one of the many roles that have been created for them; the clap-back queen, the feminist, the tech bro, the chauvinist.
All of them, exist with their own demands of victimhood. In this alternate reality, then someone who does what Beauty did on the show, can lay claim to a weird form of “victimhood;” An endless cycle of self-perpetuating performances.
Disqualification of villains on reality shows, and by extension the cancelling of “a victim,” especially on Twitter has become part and parcel of the sport, a rite of passage for all those looking for that type of fame that is dotted with clout chasing, or as someone said of Beauty, “just another tick on her bucket list.”
Initially, when the BBNaija show returned from its long-needed hiatus, the housemates who are disqualified from the show, are shunned by the production team, they do separate press rounds, and are not invited to the infamous Reunion Shows. They become pariahs of some sort.
But over the years, the influence that these villains go on to wield across social media platforms has made the producers think twice.
When it came to the turn for Tacha to not be attending the Reunion Show, things had begun to change. What would there be to talk about at the Reunion Show other than Tacha? And so she was at the show.
When it was Erica’s turn, she was part of the promotional videos for the show. She attended the show in which she further confronted one of the housemates who had been part of the people she harassed which led to her disqualification.
These days after their disqualification, the villains take up a new life in society; the role of the scorned star, who was too good for the rest.
Culture by the clif
This is in part emblematic of a culture that has indeed lost its way. That has not only failed to call out bad behaviour but sincerely doesn’t know the difference between good and bad, because the engines of the internet thrive on pure toxicity.
Now that Beauty has been disqualified from the show, will users call it boring as they did RHOL until the cast brought their brawl to the public glare? For the many fans who go to the show looking for the villain, Is there any reason to watch BBNaija anymore?