Big Brother 15: Racism Verses Ratings
Unlike all previous incarnations of the popular CBS reality competition show Big Brother 15 includes several house guests who seem clueless to the fact that racist, homo-phobic and generally crude remarks have no place in civilized society, let alone on network television. Even if said in jest they would not be appropriate, but when levied directly at other house guests based on their race or sexual preference these kinds of insults become altogether unacceptable. That is how I feel about the situation and most of America seems to agree with me. The only problem is that CBS appears to be hiding behind the format of their reality competition to excuse such horrendous indiscretion and may be doing so because of the ratings bump and publicity that Big Brother 15 is receiving from the entire debacle.
House guests Aaryn Gries, GinaMarie Zimmerman, Spencer Glawson and Amanda Zuckerman have all been caught using inappropriate descriptions of their fellow competitors on a live feed and Big Brother After Dark which airs on the TVGN cable network for two hours each night. Aaryn is first on the list of low life folk in the Big Brother house for commenting that Asian American house guest Helen Kim should “go make some rice” while speaking about her to Kaitlin Barnaby. Kaitlin immediately called Aaryn out on her remark by saying, “That is rude.” An another occasion the blond model said, “I probably look like a squinty Asian right now.” In yet another obvious racial attack on Asians Aaryn pointed out “Why you no have boyfriend? It’s because you don’t want long nail!” in an attempt to belittle Asian nail salon workers. Not to be out done, GinaMarie also targeted Helen Kim by saying she “should be kissing our ass and serving us some f_____g rice.” However, Asians are not their only targets.
In speaking about the two African American house guests, GinaMarie Zimmerman said, “You know two blacks stick together. They're like tokens.” She also commented to fellow hater Aaryn that Candace is on the dark side of the competition “because she’s already dark.” According to some reports the N word has also allegedly been used around the house, but I have not heard it so I cannot say for sure. Spenser Lawson takes the entire situation to a new level by calling gay house guest Andy Herren “Kermit the Fag” and later praising Hitler as a “gifted speaker” in a video diary session. Aaryn chimes into the homo-phobic party by saying, “No one's gonna vote for whoever that queer puts up.” Amanda Zuckerman also appears to have joined the WE HATE ANDY club by calling him “Faggoty Ann”. Like daughter, like father? Amanda’s dad recently appeared on the local CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida, and told CBS 12's Suzanne Boyd and Eric Roby that he is “proud” of his daughter’s Big Brother strategy, although he may not have been aware of her verbal blunder when he gave that interview.
None of this seems to bother CBS which has responded to this unprecedented situation by airing a disclaimer before the start of the most recent episode of Big Brother 15. That is a first in the history of the show as far as I can remember. The disclaimer states “Big Brother is a reality show about a group of people who have no privacy 24/7. At times, the Houseguests may reveal prejudices and other beliefs that CBS does not condone. Views or opinions expressed by a Houseguest are those of the individuals speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS. Viewer discretion is advised.” They also released a carefully-worded press statement which attempts to excuse all the house guests from anything they say:
“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.”
CBS may be willing to tolerate this debacle because Big Brother 15 has had a substantial ratings boost since the insults began flying. Others are less forgiving. Big Brother host and Asian American Julie Chen responded to the house guest racism on The View: “When I first found out that Aaryn, who is a 22-year-old girl, made anti-gay, anti-black and anti-Asian comments, I have to be honest, the Asian ones hit me the most. It stung, I took it personally. I’m a human being.” The mother of African American contestant Candace Stewart says she is disgusted by the use of ethnic slurs on the reality show and recently called Aaryn Gries a “racist devil” in a statement to the press. She also said that she has requested that members of her church boycott Big Brother and encourage others to do the same. Given their actions and all the hurt they have caused, Aaryn, GinaMarie and Spencer will probably not be surprised to learn that their employers have either fired them or are in the process of doing so.
Aaryn Gries modeling agency used its Facebook page to announce that it decided to release her from her contract because she “revealed prejudices and other beliefs that we (Zephyr Talent) do not condone.” GinaMarie Zimmerman’s company, East Coast USA Pageant, issued a statement which said the Pageant Coordinator had been fired because they were “in disbelief and shock that Ginamarie Zimmerman could display such acts of hate and racism.” Railroad Conductor Spencer Glawson has also been chided by his employer. Union Pacific reacted to Spencer’s Big Brother comments in a statement which says: “The values represented by Spencer Clawson’s comments during the Big Brother show do not at all align with Union Pacific’s values. Mr. Clawson is on unpaid leave of absence while participating on Big Brother. Union Pacific does not condone his comments.” Firing Glawson is a bit more complicated because it involves a union contract and a process that cannot take place until his unpaid leave ends or he gets kicked out of the Big Brother house and is available to face the music in person.
Amanda is a Real Estate Agent and that makes her kind of self-employed except for whatever affiliation she may have with a Broker or specific Realty company. It is doubtful that she will face the same backlash that the primary haters in the Big Brother house will have to deal with because she has not been the kind of repeat offender the others have shown themselves to be. It is obvious that Aaryn and GinaMarie believe they are simply employing a strategy having no clue that it is destroying their lives inside and outside the house. And as far as Spencer goes, well, you just have to feel sorry for someone so disconnected from mainstream societal norms of acceptable behavior that he is able to embrace Adolph Hitler as an idol and comfortably describe gay people in the most base and insulting form possible. Maybe he has just spent too much time on those trains and inhaled a bit more diesel exhaust then he should have?
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