CBS: Stop Covering Up Racism

I am a long-time fan of CBS's summer reality TV show Big Brother. In fact, I subscribe to the live internet feeds and read several Big Brother blogs in order to get the back story on the events that CBS does not air on the TV show. This TV show is no stranger to controversies about racism and homophobia. And I've encountered a lot of intolerant fans on Twitter and the blogs, most especially misogynistic comments and derogatory comments made about contestants who are anything less than model beautiful.

But I have never seen the level of racism, homophobia, and misogyny that has appeared this summer. Although CBS has usually not aired these comments, they tend to selectively edit the events in the house to fit their preferred storyline, this season is different. What is happening inside the Big Brother house is ugly and it needs wider exposure than the coverage its received on primary entertainment and left-wing blogs and websites.

Warning: The language in the clips and quotes below is extremely offensive.

In order for you to understand what is being said in some of these clips, you need some background on Big Brother. A group of 16 houseguests (HGs) is locked into a house for three months in competition for power. Each week, a contestant is held and that winner becomes the head of household (HOH). The HOH nominates to houseguest for eviction. They are put "on the block". Then a veto competition is held and the winner can remove one of those nominees. If so, the nominee is replaced with another HG and one of the two nominees is voted out live each Thursday evening. This season, Big Brother has added an MVP twist. The fans can vote for one HG to secretly be an MVP and anonymously nominate any houseguest for eviction.

In this clip, houseguest GinaMarie Zimmerman is seen referring to a low-income welfare policy as "n----- insurance". And she also makes a comment about Helen Kim, an Asian-American contestant: She "should be serving us some fucking rice."

The conversation below received some news coverage. Three houseguests, Aaryn Gries, GinaMarie, and Kaitlin Barnaby talk about the four minority housguests, Andy Herren, a gay man, Helen, and Howard Overby and Candace Stewart, both African-American. For context, Candice had been nominated for eviction, but her nomination was vetoed. The conversation begins with Aaryn, in the blue shirt, talking about Helen. Gina-Marie is the blond with the Long Island accent. And Kaitlin is the brunnette sitting on the hammock. Another HG, Jesse is sitting on the ground, but not speaking.

Speaking of Helen, Aaryn says, "Dude, shut up, go make some rice." GinaMarie suggests that punching her face will "make her eyes straight." Kaitlin calls Howard and Candice "tokens" and suggests that "blacks stick together". And Aaryn ends the conversation with a rant about the "queers".

During another late-night conversation, Aaryn and GinaMarie again made racist comments about Helen. The video isn't that great, so I transcribed from my feeds:

Spencer: “Helen {unintelligible} Kimg Jung Il.”
GinaMarie: “Me so horny. Me love you long time.”
Aaryn (in a mocking Asian accent): “Oh no. She’s going to evict one of us and go, ‘No happy ending for you.’”
GinaMarie: “Can I get my nails done first?”
Aaryn: “Why are the BB bunnies always on point?”
GinaMarie: “Meow.”
Aaryn: “Meow.”

Most of the Youtube clips and media attention has focused on GinaMarie, Kaitlin, and Aaryn (who is now being referred to as Aryan many places). But other contestants have displayed disgusting behavior. After Thursday night's eviction episode, Jeremy McGuire was comforting Aaryn, whose closest friend budding boyfriend David was unexpectedly evicted in a 7-5 vote. Speaking of the previous HOH, McCrae Olson, who did not expect David to be evicted, Jeremy said, "Well McCrae got jewed."

Jeremy and Spencer Clawson have been called out for their incredibly misogynistic language:

The main perpetrators are Spencer Clawson and Jeremy McGuire. They are constantly referring to women as "b----es" and "c---s" -- though we haven't heard Jeremy use the c-word, that one is solely on Spencer. They have both also bragged about their sexual activities; Spencer about his hook-ups outside the house and Jeremy about his hook-ups with fellow houseguest Kaitlin.

Just last night on the feeds, Spencer was talking about he dates girls until they sleep with him, then he moves on -- "If a guy asks you out, he's really just saying, 'I want to go through the civil process of f---ing you.'"

Sadly, Aaryn and GinaMarie are not alone, as several other houseguests are just as offensive. David Girton believes "black Candice" made his bed sheets dirty. Jeremy "I'll Cut A Bitch" McGuire sexually refers to women as meat lockers. Spencer Clawson freely calls women c-nts. Kaitlin Barnaby thinks gays are untrustworthy. Just to name a few more examples.


There has already been some blowback against this behavior. Both GinaMarie and Aaryn have been fired from their jobs, news they won't learn until they are done with the show (which could be another two months away). But CBS refuses to air these clips, so even many fans of the show are unaware of what is really going on. The largest American media outlet (to my knowledge) to report on this behavior has been CNN.

Despite warnings from the producers, this offensive behavior has continued. It is creating an environment of intolerance that will effect the minority cast members, even if they are unaware of the comments. CBS needs to a) more forcefully warn the contestants about their language, and b) air these offensive clips so the viewing public knows the whole story. The fans of the show interact with the contestants and award them special privileges and power based on their game play. The viewing public deserves to know about this intolerance and bigotry before they cast their votes.




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Deeply troubling

geomoo's picture

A degenerating society, becoming innured to cruelty.  Hell, I won't go on.  This does not strike me as a one off problem, I believe it is representative of a crumbling society.  I find it very troubling. I believe there are real world consequences that spring from these attitudes as well.  Basic human dignity is under assault.

If challenged, a common response wold likely be, "We were just kidding around."  I think there is more to that attitude than simply covering up.  I think increasingly people do not treat themselves or others seriously, do not understand that people are real, that people killed by drones are real, that other people on BB are real.  It's as though we are all playing parts on tv and trying on different personalities just for the hell of it.

And the set-ups of these programs are clear propaganda creating a society of competitors, in which only one person wins and the basic values are selfish ones.  I think this has been a conscious creation.  I won't go on.  I will never watch any of these destructive programs.  Thanks for the report.

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