Two Types of Former Houseguests, or Why There’s No Glory in Being Donnie Smith

There are basically two types of former Big Brother houseguests. One group is largely consumed and defined by the Big Brother experience. Being on Big Brother is the most significant thing they have accomplished; it is possibly the most important thing that they will ever do. Think William H. Macy’s character in the movie Magnolia. The individual’s Twitter feed is usually a dead giveaway. Even in the offseason, which is NINE AND A HALF MONTHS, the person will likely continue to tweet about Big Brother at least once a day. Years after their stint, they regularly post pictures of themselves in the house, obsess over whether or not current houseguests mention them on the live feeds, and ACTUALLY CARE and comment upon the results of Big Brother polls posted on CBS.com. The day before you move into the house for the summer, Robyn Kass visits each houseguest and warns them not to become this sort of person after the season. Obviously, Robyn’s wise advice frequently falls upon deaf ears.

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People in the second group appreciate the experience for what it was (past tense) and get back to the business of living their lives. Most of them went immediately back to their day jobs. Some of them no longer watch the show. Former houseguests in this category may wince when forced into lengthy conversations about the program. They don’t care about being “relevant” in the Big Brother community because other, more important things, like their careers and creative pursuits, define their lives.

Generally, people from Group B don’t mix well with people from Group A. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Imagine how frustrating a conversation might turn out if you don’t want to spend hours talking about Big Brother and you’re stuck in a situation with somebody who can’t stop discussing it. In the entire Big Brother family, there are only three houseguests I genuinely dislike. All three of them fall into category A.

By this time, I’m sure you guessed that Andy is one of the people I don’t like. I tried my best to be friendly with him after his season. If memory serves, I hung out with him on two occasions. Both times, Andy talked almost exclusively about Big Brother. I can’t tell you how boring it is listening to somebody explain to you why he deserved to win Big Brother—especially when you never suggested otherwise. Andy obsesses over the show. His constant tweets about the program and other people who have been on it are NOT ironic. Those tweets are the tears of a sad, little clown, who pretends he is Teflon as much as he plays at being a “professor” when he only has an MA (*see addendum below). His Twitter feed is a monument to his insecurity.

Do I hate Andy? No, he’s just not my type of guy. The problem with somebody like Andy is the more somebody he admires dislikes him or tries to disengage from him, the more invested he becomes in trying to prove to the world that he thinks the situation is funny. Tears of a clown, tears of a clown. I know this because he used to send me long, whining, sad, and unsolicited texts only moments after Dick ripped into him.

So why am I writing this blog? Good question! I suppose I’d rather deal with things directly. I’m not a 12-year-old girl, so I don’t work through my frustrations Tweeting about how our situation is like the Taylor Swift song “Bad Blood.” (For those of you keeping score at home, yes, he ACTUALLY said something along those lines.) Nor will I send him snarky Tweets with an assortment of emojis. For the unaware, snark + emojis are the way tween girls with no sophisticated sense of irony express discordance. It’s much more my style to be painfully direct. In the words of my favorite housewife of Melbourne, “There’s no battle. I already won.”

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*Addendum: Some people have taken issue with me rightfully calling out that Andy is not a professor because he only has an MA. Others have intimated that I’m looking down my nose at Andy because I have a PhD. This isn’t the case. My issue isn’t that Andy does not have a PhD. I work at an MA-granting institution and working with our MA students is THE highlight of my job. My issue is that the guy calls himself a professor when he doesn’t have a PhD. In the US, the title of professor is typically reserved for PhD-holding men and women who 1) teach, 2) engage in service to professional organizations (e.g., the National Communication Association) and their college, and 3) produce and publish peer-reviewed research. The title lecture characterizes a person who holds an MA and teaches. Lecturers are often fantastic. I’m sure Andy’s a great lecturer. But he’s not a professor. MA programs teach you the very BASIC elements of research. PhD programs teach you how to conduct and publish sustained, peer-reviewed research. What distinguishes lecturers from professors is that a professor stands in front of the room and professes his or her area of expertise. What make a subject an “area of expertise” is that the educator actively researches and publishes articles and books on the topic. Wikipedia does a basic overview of everything I’ve outlined here. Those of use who spent an extra half-decade in school, $100K on our educations, authored a dissertation, served on thesis committees, regularly present at conferences, and perform the MANY tasks associated with being a professor appreciate the distinction between professor and lecturer. Andy not being a professor doesn’t discount whatever fantastic pedagogical work he may perform in a classroom. But lecturing alone does not a professor make. The irony here is that we are both in the same field: Communication. Scholars in this field understand that words and labels make a difference. Hooray for lecturers! I’m just not down w/people pretending to be something that they’re not.

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