Tag Archives: NoBorders

Male Winner Season 2

Oh my God, this really is about Campetition, is it? After all this time?

Ok, not that long ago. Funny, how time feels different, isn’t it? Such a lot has happened since, Campetition feels so far away. Like it had been someone else involved, some prior me I barely remember having been, you know? This whole…, don’t know how to call it, like, phase, episode, bracket, parenthesis, whatever, it was a bit surreal.

Not just Campetition. The whole bloody having-to-run and-nowhere-to-go experience, that’s so totally not what you imagine as part of your life. One day, you mind your usual business and ignore the bloody news as best you can, and wham, next day some freakin idiot has the fucking civil war come your way. And here you are, left with zero palatable choice. For me, it was joining the gang, like my older cousin, or run, run, run.

In the early days, I often thought “bad move, stupid me, should have picked the killer machine option, anything else is bound to be better than this shit”. You run out of money in no time, and then it goes all real dicey. No food, no shelter, no nothing. You end up glad for getting assigned some miserable corner at the toilet end of camp doom, and a wet sleeping bag to roll yourself into and cry.

Campetition was a big improvement, by comparison. A lady I was trying to schmooze up needed help with her own application video. I did my former Nollywood hopeful best and she was pleased, allowed me to create one for myself, and submit it, on her phone and data plan. At that point, I was so broke, I didn’t even have a phone, can you imagine? That’s so below zero, no phone.

And they picked me, of all available idiots. The lady was pissed off like hell, went so wild she even talked me into offering her my slot. But the masters of Campetition said no way, it’s either me or completely new selection process, zero corruption. “Ok,” I said, “than it’s me, but you tell the lady. I don’t want her brothers looking for me for shooting.”. And they sort of did, provided me with paperwork. More paperwork!

You wouldn’t believe how much paperwork there is, in this world. Never knew, me. Because, the amazing thing is, as long as you have the right paperwork, no one ever asks you to show it. But beware, the day you’re without, they’re all over you. And you run in circles no end: No phone without a passport, but no picture and passport appointment without a phone. Loads of no-hen-no-egg dadaism, in the weird world of the paper pushers.

Anyway, I’m digressing. So I made it into Campetition, and won. Dead slow on the bloody paperwork task, was so scared to fuck it up, but I got it resolved after all. Overall, I was still two seconds faster than the next idiot, and that was it. That’s a moment I won’t forget, me all blinking because blended by the spot full on me, and totally not getting it at first. There had been rehearsals for all the rest, who-goes-where-when, but not for this part, obviously, so I was like “What the hell is this now, where is this going?”. One hell of a pleasant surprise, can tell you that.

Campetition, ‘problematic’? Honestly, if you need to ask you might want to book a course on racism, sexism and classism. Just the basics will do just fine, to spare you future embarrassment.

Of course it’s shit, Campetition! Of course I would have preferred to get my visa without jumping through this kind of loops, like some circus lion. By the way, did you notice how and why there are no more circus lions in Europe? No such rules for people…

Campetition is shit, but I’m glad I won. And now that I’m in, I fully understand why they can’t just let everybody in. This place would be is packed. It’s huge, real huge, but not infinite….

Oh, you’re nodding now? Do I perceive a bit of relief? Oh, more nodding.

This was a trap darling, to check if you’re serious, about addressing serious wrongs. Not much wrong with Campetition, not as such per se. It’s the society that is rotten, and this show is just one of the symptoms.

My pleasure, always keen to enlighten.

Stage Hand 18

If it’s racist? You are asking me, the black guy on the minimum wage – and wish it was payed on time and matching the real hours for once! – if Campetition is racist?

Any kind of idea how much how back breaking work is involved to make this big b*shit of a show happen? Do the fences go up by themselves? Does the bloody pool for the f*cking paddle boat race fill by magic? Does the splashed water mop itself up? Ever asked yourself who does the dishes after the all-cooked-zero-waste food package challenge?

Give you a hint: It’s not the camera fodder getting themselves exploited here, dawn to dusk, with barely a lunch break and no canteen. It’s us, the workforce, a.k.a the proletariat, the toiling masses, the idiots of the day.

That said – and it really needs saying more often, even if it puts me at risk of getting the sack – of course it’s racist, Campetition. The whole world order is one big fat bloody racism, why and how should prime time family entertainment be the one exception?

The camera fodder is darker skinned, on average, than management and the audience. No one needs to explain how one more young man from the Middle East or Africa ended up in a refugee camp and desperate enough to apply to compete in this b*shit. But an Oxbridge-educated blonde, he would look and sound out of place, right?

Thought you’d agree. Now guess who has a master in Sociology from Imperial College London and still needs to toil as a stage hand, because no career opportunities forthcoming, always invited, for diversity, never hired? You didn’t guess, did you? And now you feel awkward? Why not blame me, my oh so fragile friend?

Yes, sarcasm. What else?

Participant Season 1

Evil? Campetition? No, not really, not in any serious way, in my humble opinion. Evil, that’s guys wanting to shoot you, for no better reason than you being there, unarmed, and them needing to boost their collective fighter ego. Evil, that’s police threatening to break your fingers, for trying to report mafia boys threatening to break your legs for not paying up. That’s evil. Campetition isn’t.

Won’t deny a certain embarrassment, especially around the video of me abysmally failing a delivery task that looks so simple on screen. Some of that footage is still circulating on social media, after all this time. Just the other day a four-year old pointed at me on the bus and went “man no know bike ride, man no know bike ride!”. His mom must have seen it too, she tried so hard not to laugh that she ended up with a hiccup. Nice lady, very nice lady, still regret we didn’t talk.

Embarrassing, yes, having been on Campetition is embarrassing. But the show only inflicts very minor humiliation. As a refugee, you quickly learn to endure much worse, day in, day out.

In my old life, as a professional, even the idea of participating in a contest to prove my ability to work as a delivery boy on a bicycle would of course have been anathema. You don’t think about this kind of career option, right? But when the casting crew shows up at your refugee camp and you haven’t eaten or slept properly for months, one week in a proper hotel, with breakfast, lunch and dinner, clean sheets and warm showers, sounds like an improbably good opportunity, and you go “Yeah, pick me, oh pleeeeease, pick meeee! And that’s before starting to hope to win, and get that fabulous one-year-visa, with work permit.

I didn’t even last through week one. Far too old and clanky, not fit enough, physically. I was the first in a long line of archetypical Campetition losers, only there for the laughs. With hindsight, an ice cube would have better odds at lasting in an oven than me in that show.

But, guess what, even the most embarrassing failure can bring about opportunity. Months after the show, and my subsequent relocation from Lesbos to Turkey under what they call the New Refugee Deal, a nice sounding name for a horrible dead end, I was contacted by the Red Crescent.

One of my former clients, from back home in Herat, my company used to handle all kind of logistics for the US troops, back in the good old invasion days, this military person, back home in the US, he had seen the footage of me crashing my bike and spilling my pizza boxes under the effect of the fire hose. He wasn’t watching the show, not his kind of entertainment, but this clip was all over social media, for a couple of hours.

He recognized me, worried I might have been seriously injured, called his Member of Congress, another veteran, and got me onto a medical evacuation list. Next stop Ramstein air base in Germany, and new embarrassment, because my bruises had long healed. Except for a little diarrhoea, curtesy of the filthy water at the New Deal camp, I was as healthy as a refugee can be. They discharged me from the hospital on the same day, but allowed me to stay on base, for the time being.

Currently, I review Pashto social media post for the military intelligence guys, and translate whatever hints at terrorism plots targeting the US. Based on this job, and the free army barracks type of housing that comes with it, the Germans issued me with an identity card. It has to be renewed every twelve months, but overall, I’m living refugee paradise.

Do you really think Campetition would have handed over my contact details if I had reason to rubbish them? Yes, that’s how it works.

Junior Casting Manager

Yes, pretty new in the job, still counting in months, if you know what I mean. Used to assist casting for toothpaste miracle testimonials. So much easier, ethically. But try looking at six toothy grins per minute, three angles each, for eight hours a day, twelve in emergency recruitment mode, for more than a year… Just try it, before blaming me.

Campetition is evil, ok, not arguing with that statement. But that’s just your normal, globalisation-does-this-to-people-all-the-time variant of evil, ok? It’s actually far more honest than my old job. Teeth don’t grow bigger and more even through brushing, right? See what I mean?

Advertising is one big storytelling hoax. Whereas in Campetition, people do win. Very few people, as in two, ok. They don’t win much, from our point of view, sure. We’ve already got the passport, the wealthy parents, the education, you name it…

Your parents aren’t wealthy? Cool! Mine are, and they expect me to earn a living, for all the studying they sponsored. That pressure, all the time, is so killing me. It’s inhumane, really.

Anyway, yes, Campetition is evil. Like the pole dancing task for the girls. We use it in casting, to weed out the shy ones. That’s really, really bad. No one should be forced to pole dance. But now listen to this: They never even complain. None of the girls. Never.

We’ve of course got an agony aunt, official title stage intimacy counsellor. the agony aunt, she’s present at all times, not just for the sexy scenes. Ours is a clean stage and backstage, we won’t feature in no #metoo scenario. And guess what? The lady in question is bored stiff, because none of the girls talk to her. Full blown bore out candidate, the poor shrinkess, and crying on my shoulder about it.

The girls, they see the dresses they are supposed to wear, very revealing dresses, very tight. Are they going ‘Eek, rampant sexism, down with male chauvinism’? Nope. They go all happy happy wild.

Just yesterday one asked me ‘Madam, any chance I can keep this robe?’. ‘Madam’! Never was I so embarrassed before, really didn’t know where to look. And the so-called robe, it was more negligee than dress, revealing lots matching underwear, all laces.

I told the girl to please call me Beo, and never ever madam again, and asked her if her mom wouldn’t be aghast, at seeing her in this kind of undress-dress. And guess what happens? She laughs, pulls out her phone and shows me her Instagram. Turns out she has a gig as a dessous model, for her mom, who sells sexy wear.

Meaning to say, it’s all a question of perspective.

If they get to keep the dresses? Of course not, we’re one a budget. Meaning the girls always have to dress before makeup, and they get de-makeupped before they can change back into their own clothes. Always feel sorry for them, when I see them shivering and rubbing their bare arms to feel warmer. We really should provide them with towels, bathrobes, something to keep them warmer, I think. Will say this, once I make senior casting manager.

I really do need the money, you know? Don’t we all? Just saying.

Task Author 5

You’re asking me if if feel bad about this job? Really, honestly? You need to ask?! Man, you might have a problem, just saying. Of course I do feel asshole. That show, that’s exploitation, that is. Full blown, no holds barred, maximum warp exploitation. The worst of the worst, full stop.

And no free will involved, on the merch side, guarantee you that. Just imagine yourself riding a bicycle against the kind of rain we simulate by targeting the merch with a water canon. That monster, real proper police hardware, mind you, that monster is normally used for crowd control, like after football matches. Totally not like the shower in your bathroom. Hits you like some damned pile of bricks.

If your free will suggests it might be a nice way to spend prime time cycling against this kind of water wall, you’re more ready for the shrink farm than even me. And competing with a Campetition task author in that segment takes a lot, dearie…

Merch? Well, the dudes and gals. The fodder for the machine. Those you perform my tasks. In the politely polished words of our liar in chief, otherwise known as The Anchor, with a capital T and A, otherwise he gets you sacked, our dear participants. For us staffers who keep the machine running, season in, season out, the dudes and gals are merch. Merch, as in merchandise, dummy.

We get fresh merch at the start of the season. We bet on how far they go, how long they take to break. Oh yes, we do bet, too. Not on the platform, that’s off limits. The old fashioned way, with Jenny from makeup collecting the money and keeping it safe until payday.

Oh yes, this one lie is truth. Even we Campetition staff, as inside the machine as one can get, even we don’t know the winners in advance. Like everyone else, we can see who might have what it takes, and who only got in to entertain the audience by failing afap. But there’s always more winner potential merch than winning slots. Always.

Afap? Never heard? As funny as possible. Highest possible afap factor, of a task-merch combination, with zero risk of the merch getting killed, serious no-no on prime time, that’s what I have to come up with. Remember me the next time you lol, will you?