Over the past few weeks, I have noticed an increasing amount of media references to Big Brother, which, after further examination, referred to the CBS reality show rather than the brilliant novel Nineteen Eight-Four. Apparently in this season -- the show's 15th -- cast members have been throwing racial epithets and social prejudices around like Tim Lincecum's recent no-hitter, and this despicable behavior has caught the ire of the public and simultaneously put CBS' feet to the fire.
As you may know, contestant and aspiring model Aaryn Gries has been at the center of the show's controversy, saying one Asian-American contestant should "go make some rice"; calling an African-American contestant "dark" and speaking to her in a jaw-dropping, stereotyping manner ("Whatchu gon' do, gurrl? ... Where's yo class?"); and referring to a gay contestant as a "queer." While her abhorrent behavior and views have cost her -- indeed, Zephyr Talent, her modeling agency, announced that they have dropped Gries for her "prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone" -- a majority of this behavior has been edited out of the CBS broadcast and is only viewable on the show's 24/7 Internet feed.
The decision to edit out much of this behavior and only make it available on the show's feed, which CBS brilliantly markets as illicit ("See what we can't show you on TV"), has had many calling for CBS to show these contestants' true colors and the sheer prejudice that the contestants of color have faced.
In response to the sudden spotlight, CBS stated that they do not condone or support their contestants' views. Allison Grodner, an executive producer of the show, responded to the controversy by suggesting that the show and these contestants may be reflecting the world's own continued prejudices, and hopes that this season's ugly behavior can spark a dialogue about race relations in the country. "There's a very important discussion here that people will hopefully have as a result of all this," she said.
While Grodner's comments seem vanilla for such a hot-button issue, a question remains: Is it more responsible for CBS to edit out the contestants' racist and homophobic comments from the primetime broadcast or show the contestants with little to no filter? This question is further muddled when some viewers may take the airing of these epithets as mere entertainment rather than ugly prejudices that continue unchecked and are extremely harmful and hateful.
Thus far, CBS has only responded to the show's incendiary comments by airing a disclaimer at the beginning of the show to tell the audience that ultimately, viewer discretion is advised. Personally, the cynical side of me believes that CBS is silently relishing their newfound jackpot, as the show's ratings have reached a new high and more people tune in to just watch what can only be described as a sh*tshow of humanity.
Regardless, CBS stands by their mantra that the show must go on. What do you think: Should CBS air these racial and homophobic prejudices or leave them edited out of the broadcast show?
Sound off below.
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