The rampant racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism on "Big Brother's" current Season 15 has created a firestorm of controversy. Houseguests Aaryn and GinaMarie have already been fired from their day jobs for their offensive comments and behavior, but they remain on the show, intolerant antics and all.
At the Television Critics Association Summer 2013 press tour, CBS CEO Les Moonves addressed the "Big Brother" issue, calling some of what he's seen "appalling."
"It was established as a social experiment. Clearly, this happened this year. I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling, personally," Moonves told the press. "What you see there unfortunately is a reflection how certain people feel in America. I think we've handled it properly. Obviously, it made a lot of people uncomfortable ... We did not comment on some racial things that were being said until it affected what was going on in the household, and I think we've handled it the way we should have."
Moonves added that he's still involved in the late stages of casting for "Survivor" and "Big Brother." When asked if the network sometimes "tries too hard" in putting big personalities on those shows, he said, "There's no such thing as trying too hard ... Obviously, you don't want wallflowers on a reality show ... Sometimes, that leads to controversy."
The CBS CEO pointed to the first season of "Survivor" as a reality show success story in tolerance, mentioning how contestant Rudy Boetsch "wasn't used to dealing with homosexuals at all," but "became good friends" with openly gay winner Richard Hatch.
Moonves also said that he and his wife, "Big Brother" host Julie Chen, discuss the "Big Brother" bigotry "quite a bit," but he wouldn't get specific about their discussions. Chen, who is also a co-host of the CBS daytime series "The Talk," has opened up about her disappointment and anger towards the prejudice on "Big Brother" in recent weeks.
"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 ... It took me back to the '70s when I was growing up in Queens and when I was 7-years-old getting bullied, being called a chink and people pulling their eyes," Chen said on the July 8th episode of "The Talk." "The year is 2013 ... and then I felt ignorant. I felt like thought, 'Wow. There are still people who live in this country who feel that way and act that way?' Yes, there is ... and afterwards, it just made me sad because she’s 22 and she’s college educated ... It felt mean-spirited. It felt ugly and it felt mean."
The following week, Chen discussed a heated "Big Brother" moment between Candice, Aaryn, GinaMarie. "My heart is pounding," Chen said on "The Talk" after the clip aired. "Am I the only one who feels so enraged? This is the third time I've watched that clip, and it does not get any easier. I think it shows us all that in 2013, race is still a deeply, deeply personal issue and it is so extremely hurtful. And unless you have ever been on the receiving issue end of it, you simply do not know what it's like to walk a mile in someone's shoes."
"Big Brother" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET and Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.