UPDATED, 8/9: Jack Matthews has taken a lot of heat for racist comments he made while competing in the Big Brother house this summer. And he took some more of it when he sat down with host Julie Chen after being voted out of the house on Thursday’s live episode.
Just moments after his eviction, Matthews sat down with Chen, who played clips of his derogatory comments about evicted houseguest Kemi Fakunle. “In recap, you called her bitch, you called her dog poop — you didn’t use the word ‘poop’ — and we just heard you say you wanted to stomp a mudhole through her chest,” Chen asked. “Watching that now, what are your thoughts?”
“Okay, well, I will say that the ‘stomp the mudhole comment’ was based on something that Sam [Bledsoe] said last season when she was frustrated, and I don’t think there was any personal vendetta behind saying that,” Matthews replied. “I think my statements were playful in a group of people. I do apologize for what I said, and that’s very sincere. I think Kemi was, and is, a great person. I think this game and being in 24-hour view of people and you say things and… um, I wouldn’t say I fully support the things that I said and the way that I said them. If I could take them back, I would, and I wish I could have articulated them in some other way possible. But it doesn’t take away the fact that I don’t think that Kemi is a wonderful person inside and outside of this house, absolutely.”
Matthews had more questionable comments to answer for: Chen then showed a clip of him responding to another houseguest who said the “proof is in the pudding.” Matthew’s response “the rice pudding” — a reference to evicted HG Isabella Wang, who is Asian-American. “Because Bella is Asian-American, and you made the pudding comment rice pudding, some people thought that was a derogatory statement about her ethnicity,” questioned Chen. “What is your response to that?”
“I appreciate you letting me be able to voice my opinion about that,” answered Matthews. “We spoke earlier in the evening. There was the slop thing going on and people were making different recipes earlier in that evening, mainly Tommy and Christy. And rice pudding was spoken about in slop pudding. And so earlier in that evening, rice and slop pudding were going, around so Tommy bringing it up in that situation made me say it there. It had nothing — absolutely nothing — to do with her ethnicity whatsoever. I appreciate that I get to voice me saying that.”
A CBS insider tells EW that Matthews was not briefed about Chen’s line of questioning before his ouster, even though many fans had their suspicions. Matthews was previously reprimanded about his comments in a diary room session, the same source confirmed.
The show’s decision to put Matthews on the hot seat comes after CBS executives were questioned by journalists about racist comments in the house. At the network’s annual Television Critics Tour panel in Los Angeles last week, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl was questioned why these instances of bad behavior didn’t make the broadcast. “In terms of how people are represented, the vast majority of time we are very happy with how they are represented. Most people who have been on those shows speak very fondly of their experience. I’m not sure how much better we can edit that show. There are thousands of hours condensed down to 42 minutes per episode. We are not able to show every single thing on the show. We strive to show a good representation of what happens.”
After three people of color were among the first evictees this summer — and some HGs were accused of racist and bullying behavior — CBS released this statement last month: “Big Brother is a multi-platform reality competition show about a group of people who live in a house for several months with no contact from the outside world. The audience is able to view the show during the multiple weekly broadcasts as well as on the 24/7 live, online stream, which captures unedited content of the contestants’ unfiltered moments in the House,” they said. “At times, the houseguests say things that we do not condone. We share some of the viewers’ concerns about inappropriate behavior and offensive comments, and producers have addressed specific incidents with the houseguests involved. However, there is absolutely no truth that the casting of the show is racially motivated, that the Houseguests’ behavior is predetermined or that the outcome is controlled in any way.”
When EW asked the ousted Wang about Matthews’ “rice pudding” comment last week, she said she wanted to wait to talk with Jack herself before passing judgment.