A few “Big Brother” contestants are in for quite a surprise when they finally exit the show this summer.
Not only has the blogosphere lit up about some competitors’ racist and homophobic remarks captured on the CBS reality show’s Internet feeds, but the network finally decided to show a sampling of the offensive comments in Sunday’s broadcast — for everyone to see. One example: contestant, Aaryn mocked Asian cast member Helen by saying, “Shut up and go make some rice,” along with other derogatory statements. (See a more detailed list here.)
CBS actually airing these comments is noteworthy because generally the network shies away from doing so. In the past, this has led to complaints about the edited-for-TV episodes not showing the true nature of people on the show, who often said such hateful things — and during this season, which started two weeks ago, the drum beat of the outraged Internet became louder than ever.
“We are very mindful of the important issues that have been raised by these recent comments,” CBS said in an updated statement on Monday. “With regard to the broadcast version, we are weighing carefully issues of broadcast standards, an obligation to inform the audience of important elements that influence the competition, and sensitivity to how any inappropriate comments are presented.”
For the uninitiated: “Big Brother,” now in its 15th season, places about a dozen people in a house together, where they vote each other out, one by one, until only one remains and wins a $500,000 prize. CBS streams a 24/7 live feed of the show online for paid subscribers, and the producers edit together content for three TV broadcasts during the week. Naturally, many things happen online that TV-only viewers never see.
This includes cast members making incredibly offensive statements about minority groups, and has happened multiple times this season. Reality TV-themed site RealityBlurred quoted executive producer Alison Grodner in 2010 about why the network abstains from airing such remarks from contestants, and she explained: “They have opinions and so forth that we don’t necessarily agree with and condone and want to put out there further, to be honest….We really don’t want to put hateful things out there in our edits. And so for the most part, when this goes down, we keep that out of the show.”
Last week, hearing from bloggers and viewers upset that the show was editing out the controversy, CBS released a statement to the media that included lines such as, “We certainly find the statements made by several of the Houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive,” and “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.”
But producers finally aired several remarks in Sunday’s episode. Aaryn, a 22-year-old college student from Texas, was shown making repeated homophobic and racist statements about her fellow competitors. (Here’s a list of others, from multiple contestants.)
Many of her fellow cast mates didn’t bother to say anything to her directly: “Does she not know we’re on TV and she shouldn’t say stuff like that?” one wondered out loud while a group discussed Aaryn’s racist tendencies. However, producers showed Howard, a youth counselor and one of the two African American contestants, talking to the camera about how Aaryn’s comments upset him.
“Even when these comments are made in fun, they still hurt and are disrespectful,” Howard said. “It could cause me to lose my temper, but that is a no-no in this game.”
Amanda, a 28-year-old real estate agent, chimed in that Aaryn’s remarks, “are completely inappropriate, where she makes fun of other people for what they look like, and their ethnicity.”
“I think it’s going to hurt her a lot in the game and outside of the game,” Amanda added.
That’s an understatement — Aaryn has reportedly already been dropped by her modeling agency after they saw the show. Another contestant, GinaMarie, a 32-year-old pageant coordinator, has also lost her job after making similar remarks on live feeds.