Update: CBS has finally officially acknowledged the offensive remarks and the last episode was aired with with the following disclaimer:
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 individuals speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS. Viewer discretion is advised.
But we wonder if the show will make any move about some of the contestants being bullied and targeted because of their race on the show. Jezebel reports that
Candice, the only African-American woman in the house, has become the victim of racism remarks and harrassment. Other contestants messed with her bed and personal property, and then told her, “Now we’ll see the black come outta you.”
The contestant Aaryn yelled at Candice and put on an affect—rolling her neck, snapping her fingers—and asked, “Whatchu gone do, girl? Whatchu gone do?”
Then a third contestant, GinaMarie, screamed in Candice’s face: “Is the black gonna come out?”
“It got so bad that Howard, the only African-American man in the house, came into the room and physically removed Candice so that she wouldn’t get in a fight. Candice then broke down in tears over all the racial slurs and what they’ve had to endure in the house. After he was done counseling her, and when he was finally alone, Howard himself began to cry,” writes Jezebel.
Any type of scandal usually equals a boost in ratings in TV land. The recent Big Brother fallout over racist remarks made by some cast members seems to have done just that. This season, two contestants on the CBS program were caught on a 24-hour Internet feed making racially insensitive remarks, and some were aired this past Sunday on one of the show’s television broadcasts.
On the reality show, contestant GinaMarie Zimmerman, 32, of Staten Island, N.Y., referred to welfare as “N-word insurance.” This incident was seen on the feed made available through the CBS website, but did not air on television.
Another exchange with fellow contestant Aaryn Gries (above) was actually shown on CBS. During this conversation, Zimmerman said that a house member who is black is “on the dark side, but she’s already dark.” To which Gries responded: “Be careful what you say in the dark because you might not be able to see the b***h.” There was more.
Gries described another contestant as a “queer.” And in another conversation, she said to an Asian-American housemate in an exaggerated Asian accent: “Shut up, go make some rice.” In yet another incident, Gries said, “I look, probably, like a squinty Asian right now.”
While they have not been dropped from the show, Zimmerman was fired from her job as a beauty pageant coordinator and Gries, a student who also works for a modeling agency, was reportedly dropped by her agency.
According to Nielsen ratings, an estimated 6.25 million people watched Big Brother on Sunday, a six percent increase over the average 5.9 million viewers for the first three episodes of the summertime series. The Wednesday airing was also up 18 percent. So far there has been not advertising fallout from the remarks and the airing of them.
So did the well-publicized controversy cause people to watch?
“Perhaps. But it’s worth noting that there are more people in general watching TV on Sundays than other nights. And the week of July Fourth, when earlier Big Brother episodes were shown, is typically the least-watched TV week of the year. The true test for Big Brother is whether the show can sustain any interest in the characters,” reports The Huffington Post.
The situation has made CBS take stock. The network said in a statement that it did not condone what its characters said and it was “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.”