Jean Jordan will doubtless go down as one of the more interesting personalities in television for the year 2000. Known only as "Jordan" to U.S. viewers, the one-time exotic dancer was a vocal, controversial and telegenic resident of CBS' Big Brother house.
Jordan lasted four weeks in the house but in her post-exile interview with BB emcee Julie Chen, she bluntly said---after being shown highlights of her episodes---producers were inaccurately portraying her personality through their editing choices.
In this interview with GSCC, Jordan talks of her month with a gang of strangers, her feelings on whether CBS will try the concept a second time and why she believes Big Brother is anything but reality television.
GSCC: A lot of the Survivor players are getting huge marketing and entertainment opportunities. We haven't heard of any serious comparable offers for the Big Brother gang. What can you tell us about that?
JJ: I think that is directly related to the success of the show, obviously. Big Brother is a big failure, and I don't think any of the people on the show have much of an immediate draw to the American public. Yes, we will have recognition but if we are to have true fame from all of this, we need to design it ourselves and capitalize on the recognition independently. People won't be beating down our door because we are associated with a mediocre show.
GSCC: To what degree do you feel Big Brother has been hurt or helped by being on at the same point in time as Survivor. Big Brother's ratings have
gradually declined, even though it's attracting 18-34s in decent numbers, and it hasn't had that "phenomenon" click Survivor had and Millionaire did last summer.
JJ: I think Survivor was the saving grace of the show. If you look at the ratings, they were only big on the nights Survivor was on...that's because some people were truly interested in "reality TV" but some just left their televisions on. Survivor definitely eclipsed Big Brother, but that is because Big Brother was easily eclipsed. The reason Big Brother is not getting huge ratings is because it is simply a poorly designed and poorly cast show.
GSCC: Jean, this is billed as a "reality" game show. We've had a lot of debate on this subject from people who are traditional game show fans, many of whom are strong in their belief Big Brother is not a game show at all. In your opinion, after being there, is it really a game? After all, $500K is on the line, but is it really a game?
JJ: For me, it wasn't a game, I went to interact and create good television. I am passionate about the human experience and I thought it would be a blast to stir some things up (like social issues) and get people talking. The "game show aspect" was definitely a factor, however, because it was the main reason for all of the dysfunction in the house (people being cautious as to not get
nominated, being paranoid of being banished, etc.). Some people really treat it like a game, others don't. One thing is for sure, there is a LOT of confusion about it. It is a game in structure and it is definitely a factor, but---at the same time---it is about human interaction. The line is blurred on the show, and when certain people start ACTUALLY PLAYING GAMES they are quickly stoned and banished. I think that as far as "moral behavior" and "reality" all bets should be off in this environment. People should go into the house and the one who "plays the game" the best (is most entertaining to the American public - because that's what this is about, entertainment) should win.
I went in with other motives, like I previously stated. After all, half a million is $250,000 after taxes (Ed. Note: accounting experts have told GSCC the jackpot, depending on California state taxes, will see the winner keep approximately $330,000), which isn't that much money. However, since it has become so obvious that this is NOT reality and it is about economics and entertainment, I believe Big Brother SHOULD be a game...a game to see who is the most entertaining. The American public is just as confused as the producers....they voted out the most entertaining people, yet now the show sucks even worse than it did before and no one is watching. Does this make sense?
GSCC: A number of e-mails to our site suggested, if you will, you and William Collins were just too vocal to have lasted in a show where the viewers decide the destiny. Several said you and Collins needed to be on Survivor and a couple of the Survivor people should have been in the Big Brother house. In particular, a number of our readers said if you had not immediately asked to know who nominated you and why you were nominated during the two nomination nights, you may have had less backlash from the viewers. If you could do it all over, to what degree would you have changed any of that?
JJ: For one, I asked after the first nomination because I wanted some honest feedback about what people were thinking of me because what I had experienced for a week was backstabbing two-faced people. They were afraid if they were honest, they would look bad and then people would vote for them! Weak. (The second nomination was a JOKE but people are too anal to get my sense of humor). I just wanted some honesty around that place. As you can see, people are so protective and boring to watch because they are too inhibited and afraid to tell people what they really think!!!!! I didn't care about the nomination, I just wanted some honesty. One of my mantras is, "I would rather have a sincere insult than a fake compliment" anyday! I wanted some honesty out of those bottled up people! Screw the Red Room, I wanted people to tell me to my face and then we could get somewhere and be real! I didn't want revenge...I wanted some honesty! And screw the American public, if they were afraid of that or don't understand it.
I wouldn't change a thing. One thing I've learned is that people who are outspoken are most easily criticized, but it is the most rewarding.
People complained about Mega and me...but they watched us the most. Whether they hated us or loved us, we were at least speaking up and being honest. Who cares about a neutral person! Life is not neutral and 'PC'...people can run away from issues but they will get nowhere. We NEED to talk about life with each other! We NEED to be more aware of ourselves and others! We NEED
to stop living in our fearful little bubbles!
I wouldn't change a thing, except that I would be MORE outspoken if I could do it again.
GSCC: You openly said you felt the editing did not portray a true picture of you. If you have followed the show since you left, how have you regarded the way the others have been portrayed? In your opinion, has the show lost or not lost its zip as more people are eliminated?
JJ: The more colorful, complex, uninhibited people are the least accurately portrayed. The reason for this is the complicated, outspoken people give the editors a wider range of material and more of it to edit. They are more easily shaped into characters. You can see this with Mega, myself, and Brittany the most. The more baseline boring people are more accurately portrayed because they are about the same all of the time (Cassandra, Jaime, Curtis). Other people are fun to watch because they start going psycho (Karen and George). ;)
GSCC: Karen Fowler said shortly after she left the house she had made contact with you. She appeared to be not prepared for the extent of the negative reaction to her and the frequent comments she made about her husband. What kind of person did you find Karen to be?
JJ: Karen can speak for herself.
GSCC: You want to publish your book....but what else do you want to pursue after the show's end?
JJ: My book is as far in advance as I am concentrating right now. We'll see what happens!
GSCC: If you had it to do all over again, would you have auditioned for the show and why?
JJ: No. I would have waited for Survivor 2.
GSCC: If you had to settle on three messages or values (or lack thereof) Big Brother sends to the American public, particularly the younger viewers who watch, what would they be?
JJ: 1. Question everything you hear and see. Nothing is as it seems.
2. "Reality TV" is an oxymoron - knowledge of cameras, the gameshow aspect, and editing make it impossible for these shows to truly convey "reality"...it is a scewed reality and should be treated as such.
3. Television is ultimately about economics and entertainment. Most importantly, NO MATTER HOW WELL YOU THINK YOU KNOW SOMEONE FROM BEHIND A SCREEN, YOU NEVER DO UNTIL YOU HAVE ACTUALLY HAD A ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATION WITH THAT PERSON.
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