Facing intense backlash from fans and the media, "Big Brother" decided Sunday night to air racist, homophobic, and misogynistic remarks made by houseguests.
A huge controversy erupted last week when some of the Season 15 houseguests made offensive, prejudiced comments on the show's 24-hour online live feed. CBS released a statement saying it did not condone the behavior, and two cast members lost their jobs.
When the remarks were heard on the live feed, many critics and fans called on "Big Brother" to air edited versions on the CBS broadcast. Reality Blurred's Andy Dehnart argued for accurate representations of the houseguests, especially since viewers vote on a favorite player of the week. NPR's Linda Holmes said not airing such comments "sanitizes people who deserve scorn." And former "Big Brother" contestant Ragan Fox wrote an open letter to producers saying "It would be irresponsible to punt on this issue."
"Big Brother" heard their calls to action. Sunday night, the reality series aired a montage of Aaryn Gries's and GinaMarie Zimmerman's racist and homophobic slurs, which targeted gay housemate Andy Herren and Asian American cast member Helen Kim.
Several of the other housemates even discussed their bad behavior.
"Does she know we're on TV and you shouldn't say stuff like that?" Judd Daughtery pondered.
"She makes comments that are completely inappropriate where she makes fun of other people for what they look like and their ethnicity," Amanda Zuckerman said. "I think it's going to hurt her a lot in the game and outside the game."
And it has.
Gries, a 22-year-old college student, was fired by her modeling agency, while 32-year-old Zimmerman was let go from her job as a pageant coordinator.
A third contestant, 31-year-old railroad conductor Spencer Clawson, has been on unpaid leave from his job with Union Pacific while filming "Big Brother." His homophobic slurs on the show have prompted his employer to formally state, "The values represented by Spencer Clawson's comments during the 'Big Brother' show do not at all align with Union Pacific's values. ... Union Pacific does not condone his comments."
But since the "Big Brother" cast is totally cut off from outside communication, they have no idea how their behavior has affected their normal lives. They'll be in for a rude awakening when they leave the house.
Host Julie Chen addressed the controversy during a live taping of "The Talk: this morning.
"The Asian [slurs] hit me the most. It stung. I took it personally," she said. "The really sad part, it took me back to the '70s when I was growing up in Queens and I was 7-years-old getting bullied, being called a ch--k. I thought, 'Wow, I haven't heard comments like that [in years].' The year is 2013. I felt ignorant, there are still people in the country who feel and act that way? Yes there [are]."
"Big Brother" airs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays on CBS.
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