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Last week the Internet was rocked by the revelation that cast members of the CBS reality show “Big Brother,” now in its 15th season, were recorded by hidden cameras making racist remarks and homosexual put-downs.
“Big Brother” features a group of people who are housemates or houseguests living together in a large, usually specially constructed house. Contestants are continuously monitored by in-house television cameras as well as personal audio microphones during their stay. Each series lasts for about three months, with 12 to 16 contestants entering the house. To win the final cash prize, a contestant must survive periodic (usually weekly) evictions and be the last housemate or houseguest remaining in the compound by the series conclusion.
It is no secret to cast members or diehard fans that the contestants are monitored around the clock, and true fans can subscribe to watch live feeds from the house. What they heard sent them to the Internet to blast certain members of the cast.
On Sunday, July 7, “Big Brother” chose to show a sampling of the homophobic and racist remarks. Many believe it was due to the pressure CBS was getting from viewers who saw posted videos.
In a video, now on YouTube, GinaMarie Zimmerman and Aaryn Gries take turns hurling stereotypes at their Asian, African American and gay competitors in a conversation that was edited out of the reality show’s airing.
Aaryn and GinaMarie first made fun of Helen, an Asian American contestant. “Dude, shut up! Go make some rice,” Aaryn says. Later, GinaMarie adds, “Andy was like, ‘I’m gonna punch her in the face,’ and I was like, ‘Maybe that’ll make her eyes straight.’”
The conversation then turned to Howard and Candice, two African American contestants. “Blacks stick together …. They’re like tokens … They’re like black Barbie and Kens, but they’re not” someone on the tape says, before another voice says that Candice’s “blackness” was coming out. They then worried aloud about Andy getting the MVP “because everybody loves the queers.”
In other clips, the N-word was used. TMZ reported, GinaMarie referred to welfare as “ner insurance” … and the comments were captured on “Big Brother’s” uncensored live Internet feed along with one male contestant, Spencer Clawson, praising Hitler for his great oratory skills.
The amazing thing is that these young people knew they were being taped, and apparently felt it was OK to express their true feelings about people of color and homosexuals.
CBS officials did issue this statement: “‘Big Brother’ is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7, and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. We certainly find the statements made by several of the houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a houseguest appearing on ‘Big Brother,’ either on any live feed from the house or during the broadcast, are those of the individual(s) speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS or the producers of the program.”
Truth be told, most reality shows have to deal with contestants with racist attitudes. It’s explained away that these folks are not exposed to other cultures and thereby don’t really know any better and believe the stereotypes and what they hear from others like themselves.
Like dethroned celebrity chef Paula Deen, the wannabe celebs of “Big Brother” have also suffered from their racial and homosexual statements. Gries and Zimmerman have both lost their jobs at a modeling agency and a beauty pageant official, respectively. Clawson’s employer, Union Pacific, has released a statement condemning the contestant’s comments. He is currently employed, however.
I don’t know about you, but it seems reality shows, show the reality of what’s truly happening in American thinking, when it comes to race.