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After Ethiopian Big Brother contestant Betty was caught on camera making love with house-mate Bolt, social media sites went into overdrive, with people expressing a range of reactions to what they had seen. Views on the sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Dire Tube among them – fell into (at least) three categories.
When video of Betty making love with the Sierra Bolt appeared on social media sites, many people were appalled at the way she was representing her country.
A few days later, Betty was seen ‘pleasuring herself’ in a bathroom with Bolt and the disapproval grew to condemnation.
Many people who weren’t bothered by her first appearance changed their tune.
Most of the comments on social media were very conservative, but their criticism ignored reality: “Am sure she is not Ethiopian,” someone anonymous said on Youtube.
“She cannot comeback to Ethiopia. She has ruined Ethiopia’s image publicly,” said another person who is also anonymous and wrote in Amharic.
“This is shameful and appalling – she can go to Sierra Leone,” they said.
A reasonable number of people have seen her action. What they are not interested in is her being cited as Ethiopian.
Of course all social media put her nationality before her name. However, people whose comments are classified as moderate are sometimes sorry for her.
“Please guys – why are we in such a rush to judge people?” said another anonymous person.
Live and let live
There are others who believe that what Betty has done is nothing new, but simply what everyone does, albeit normally in private.
They say – of course – Ethiopia is the home of religions that condemn sexual acts and even public talk of sex.
They point to the contradiction in the strength of Christianity and Islam in a country where prostitution is escalating.
“Let’s not forget our sisters in the United Arab Emirates,” said another social media post.
“So leave her alone,” the writer continued. “It’s her right to do whatever she wants with her body.”
There is a debate over the extent to which reality television truly reflects reality.
In many cases, the entire premise of the show is a contrived one, based around a competition or another unusual situation.
In some cases, programme makers have been accused of manipulating reality in order to create more compelling television.
Competition-based reality shows like Big Brother Africa (BBA) often have additional common elements such as one participant being eliminated per episode, a panel of judges, and the concept of immunity from elimination.
The reality of these shows is that they are meant to depict reality – by that logic, people eating, having sex or doing anything else on camera can only be judged as real and not wrong.
Is what Betty did wrong? It very much depends on the perspective. If one is to borrow her shoes and walk in them, they might find it very much correct.
Is what she did right? Again, it’s a matter of perspective. If one focuses on nationality, culture and Betty’s position as an ambassador for Ethiopia, they will inevitably disapprove of her actions.
Betty took a decision to participate in a reality show in which everything she does is open to the public. The issue raised by many of her critics is what her actions say about Ethiopia. Would they be so disgusted if she were competing by herself and her nationality wasn’t an issue?
Perhaps the organisers of the show shouldn’t make people representatives of their country.
Should Betty come back to Ethiopia?
She should, but be ready to face the faces of conservatives all over the places she will be.
People who approve of her actions are suggesting she will return a celebrity and come back to a better, more exciting life than she left behind.
Time will tell.