What Are Words Worth?

I’ve become perversely fascinated with this season of Big Brother, particularly since half of the house has found the Lord. As they talk, though, it becomes clear that their notion of God is utterly banal. God is their posse, God is their valet, God is their genie, and so on. God is the general store they barter at for their wants, which they consider needs. Their God, like the football player’s God, has a rooting interest in the game. God is the pit boss that pays you off handsomely for a bold gamble.

If “God” is largely rendered meaningless – or at least too dull to arouse spiritual passion – on Big Brother, “Love” takes a similar beating on A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila (the first season due out this month on DVD). The show, like Rock of Love with Bret Michaels and the Flavor of Love with Flavor Flav, makes a game show out of the pursuit of groupiedom, but without the trip to the clinic when it’s over. In the case of Shot of Love, the twist is that Tequila is supposedly bisexual, so both guys and gals compete for the attention of the chipmunky beauty whose claim to fame is being everybody’s hot MySpace friend.

From the start, the contestants talk about how much they love Tila, even before they meet her. They don’t use “love” as hyperbole or with any sense of reserve. They talk about their love for her as if the only things left to do is introduce her to the folks and start picking out the china pattern. I suppose if you’re going to go on the show, talking about love goes with the territory, and being measured doesn’t make for good TV. Still, it comes so easily to some, and because Tequila herself is so obviously reading lines and shows little personality, the love people keep talking about seems entirely manufactured and unreal.

Are the contestants simply good actors, or does the word “love” simply ennobilize their desire to get in Tila’s pants? Much the same way “God” spiritualizes the Big Brother contestants’ desire to see their enemies kicked out. At the end of season one of Rock of Love, the big, scary stripper-y girl who swore she loved Bret and had his back – the ultimate expression of love if you think of romance as a gang war, I suppose – was pissed off and over him when he chose the girl with the pink hair. Evidently love is fleeting.