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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Blurred Colour Lines - Big Scandal in the Big Brother House

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of my American readers out there a happy 4th of July. It seems hard to believe that the United States of America is turning 237 years old today! Personally speaking, I don't think it looks a day over 169, but that's just me.

At any rate, happy birthday, America! And, to throw my support to the American Independence Day, I'm doing my blog in red and blue today.

(I would have also used white, but it doesn't really show up that great against a yellow background.)

Now, for this edition of the Thursday Timeline...well, I'll be honest with you. This diary entry is going to feature some fireworks, and it will open up some recent controversy that is going on within the world of network television...and one of television's most successful reality shows is smack dab in the center of it all.

This post combines one of my guilty pleasures with one of the things that I absolutely despise in this world. And, well...I have my own thoughts about the scandal. Comparing it with a similar scandal that took place just weeks earlier, it just makes me swallow things with an incredibly bad aftertaste lingering on.

But, let's start at the beginning of this blog entry, shall we?

July 4, 2013

I get a lot of ribbing for being one to admit that I am a huge reality television fan. Particularly from those people who constantly tell me that reality television isn't “real”.

Okay, so maybe there are some examples in which the definition of “reality” is slightly warped, depending on the show that you're watching. I highly doubt that I will ever be stranded on an island with seventeen of my closest friends, going to Tribal Council to vote someone off the island. I'm fairly confident that I will never find myself singing on stage in hopes that Adam Levine or Blake Shelton will spin their chairs around and give me a standing ovation. And, it is unlikely that I will find myself handing out long stemmed roses to twenty-five girls reeking of desperation in hopes of finding my future spouse.

So, why is it that I find myself fascinated by reality television? I don't think I can truly give out a reason for it except that I'm quite fascinated by human behaviour. Granted, a lot of these people put on a show of bravado and overinflated ego when the cameras are on...but when the cameras turn off, it's amazing just how many people can show their true colours when they think that nobody is watching.

I think that's why I am such a fan of “Big Brother”. The reality show currently airs in several different countries all over the world, including Canada, the UK, Australia, and of course, the United States. Since the year 2000, “Big Brother” has aired on CBS, and remains one of the network's most successful reality programs (other than “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race”).

Now, the way that “Big Brother” works is similar to the plot of the George Orwell classic “Nineteen-Eighty-Four”. You have between ten and sixteen houseguests locked inside a house for at least seventy days, but no more than ninety, and each week, at least one houseguest is evicted from the house via a vote (the first season America chose, the subsequent seasons were chosen by the remaining houseguests). The last houseguest standing will win a half million dollar cash prize.

The show is filmed by using cameras that are placed all over the house in every room. And for the episodes of “Big Brother” that air on CBS, the weekly events of the program are edited and censored for network television and pre-packaged into three separate episodes per week. The television clips showcase all of the competitions (Head of Household, Have/Have Not, Power of Veto, etc), as well as some of the most important developments that take place within the house (strategic plays, house battles). But again, the stuff that viewers see on television is heavily edited and censored, so we only get a little taste of what is happening in the house.

If you have the funds (and absolutely no life), you can subscribe to the live feeds brought to you by the CBS webcams that are placed in the house, where viewers who want to know everything that is happening in the house at any given time can check in on the house whenever they want. And, this is where things get a little sticky.

(NOTE: I have NEVER subscribed to “Big Brother” feeds. As much as I am a fan of the show, I do not have the time or the desire to watch a 24-hour-long episode of “Big Brother”. I am getting my info from various websites like Joker's Update, Zap2It, or even the official Big Brother Facebook page.)

This year marks the show's fifteenth season, and this year's theme is all about supersizing. The show has sixteen houseguests (one of the bigger casts the show has seen), lasts ninety days (the longest season ever), and instead of two people being nominated for eviction, there are three.

And, so far, this season has gotten off to a rather explosive beginning...and not for good reasons either.

Of course, I do have to say that there are some good points to note regarding this season so far. I do have my early favourites, though they are not many. I don't like the fact that the oldest houseguest of this season is just five years older than I am, but I do like the fact that this houseguest (Helen) is one of the houseguests that I enjoy watching, and I hope that she goes far. Judd's kind of quiet, but I do enjoy seeing him. I think Andy is pretty funny, and I think that Nick is definitely someone to watch out for, as he seems very intelligent. And, even though former contestant Rachel Reilly wasn't one of my all-time favourite players, her sister Elissa (who is one of the contestants for this season) is slowly winning my seal of approval.

Now, if you're keeping count at home...that's only five out of sixteen houseguests that I have on my like list. There are some people in the house that I am kind of indifferent to. I don't dislike them or hate them, but they really haven't made much of an impression on me. But, that's normal, as some people on these types of reality shows sometimes need a couple of weeks to really put themselves out there.

But some of the houseguests that are in the house have not exactly been the kindest, most understanding people out there. And, if you're just watching the show on CBS, you probably have no idea of what the controversy regarding “Big Brother 15” is all about. But, if you watch the live feeds, then you know that some of the houseguests have been behaving in a disgusting and foul manner. And, the way that CBS has handled the controversy leaves a lot of people out there (including myself) crying “double standard”.

I suppose I should explain.

Now, everyone knows that in the real world, there are some people out there in the world who are extremely closed-minded about others. And, “luckily” for us, this season of “Big Brother” seems to have a whole bunch of them all gathered up in one house.

Let's take a look at Jeremy, for instance. Now, watching the television broadcast only, you'd never know that he makes derogatory comments towards women and acts like a complete neanderthal. But he does. If you only watched the network broadcast of “Big Brother”, you'd never know that Spencer has made comments that are incredibly homophobic.

And if you did not watch the live feeds of “Big Brother 15”, you would never realize that the houseguests of Aaryn (above left), GinaMarie (above right), and David have made so many racist and homophobic comments towards their fellow houseguests that there is now a petition going around, begging CBS to eject at least one of them from the game.

Well, as of this writing, David is no longer in the game, being the first evictee of the season. But Aaryn and GinaMarie still remain in the game, and they are presumably still making pointed jabs at their competitors with a little dash of bigotry mixed in.

In fact, some of the comments that both women have made in the house were so blatantly racist and so incredibly disgusting that I refuse to write them here in this space. There are plenty of links online that you can find via Google if you really want to know the truth about what it is that they really said. Just be ain't pretty.

The only thing that you need to know is that in this case, their actions have netted both of them some karmic retribution. The modeling agency that represented Aaryn dropped her as a client because of the comments that she made, and GinaMarie has also lost her job as a pageant coordinator as a result of her own comments. And, both women will now have to deal with the fact that whenever their names are entered into a Google search, the word “racist” will forever be linked to them.

And neither one will realize the gravity of what has happened until they are evicted from the “Big Brother” house. Hopefully, both will also be served a nice slice of humble pie when they realize that their true colours shone through and earned themselves a nice little pink slip for their trouble.

But here is what is frustrating about this whole scandal. And, it's nothing to do with the houseguests. It's to do with the network that broadcasts “Big Brother” and chooses the cast for the season.

Now, granted, I realize that CBS probably wasn't setting out to cast the most racist houseguests in the history of the show. But since they have, the one thing that many expected would happen is that CBS would at the very least air part of the conflicts that were going on in the house. I realize that the offensive words would have to be censored out (and rightfully so), but we all expected that the network would at least air portions of the racial slurs that were uttered by the worst offenders.

But they haven't. If you're watching the show only on CBS, the worst fight that you would have seen was the one where some of the houseguests broke their promise to drink any alcohol until after the Have Nots regained their food privileges.

To CBS' credit, they have issued a statement saying that they don't condone the actions of certain houseguests, but at the same time, they have also made the decision not to even mention a snippet of what is even happening in the house. It's almost as if the show seems like they want to sweep every comment that Aaryn, GinaMarie, and anyone else who has used racial slurs or terms that are homophobic under the rug, choosing to instead edit them as sympathetic sweethearts, as opposed to bigoted and entitled people.

And, that's where I call shenanigans...especially in comparison to the Paula Deen scandal.

Everyone knows about the Paula Deen thing. Once upon a time, Paula Deen was the darling of “The Food Network”, charming audiences all over the world with her southern home cooking and tasty vittles. Her obsession with butter was well documented in the culinary world, as was her subsequent weight loss after being diagnosed with diabetes, but through it all she continued to ink a place for herself in the culinary hall of fame alongside legends such as Wolfgang Puck, Julia Child, Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray, and Lidia Bastianich...

...well, that is until Paula Deen made an off-the-cuff statement where she admitted to saying the “N” word, and admitted to making other similar comments that were Now her contract with Food Network has been cancelled, and she has lost her sponsorship from Target, Walmart, Smithfield Hams, and JC Penney, among others...all in the time frame of one whole week.

And of course everyone knew all about the Paula Deen scandal. Before Paula Deen arrived at the soundstage where NBC's “Today” show is taped, “Entertainment Tonight” and other media outlets like TMZ already had broken the story, and many media sources basically raked her over the coals in about as much time as it takes to button up a shirt. There's a lot of debate going on over whether Paula Deen deserved this kind of treatment because of what she said, and while some people feel that she deserved everything she got, others are more sympathetic towards her, saying that it seemed more like a witchhunt. I'll admit myself that lately I think that the Paula Deen scandal has evolved into complete silliness (like, how much more misery can we pile on top of this woman), but at the same time, I don't think that her comments should be swept underneath the rug either. She made the comments, and is now facing the consequences for it by being made a public example.

So, why isn't the same treatment given to the “Big Brother” houseguests, who in my opinion have said far worse and more damaging statements than Paula Deen has? It's a complete double standard for CBS to seemingly excuse their bad behaviour by not making it as much of a public spectacle as the Paula Deen case.

But on that note, I think that's precisely one of the main reasons why I was always so fascinated by “Big Brother”. It's the fact that when the show ends, and the live feeds kick back on again, you get to see people for who they really are. Mind you, some people do try to mind their P's and Q's when they realize that yes, they are being watched by cameras twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week...but some just let it all fly out, without any regards for anybody or anything, as Aaryn and GinaMarie have displayed over the first two weeks of the program.

And, I suppose that's one of the many flaws towards having complete free speech. It's a right that everybody has, and it is a right that is held very dear to many people's hearts. But as I wrote about before, free speech has its hidden costs. And some people may have to learn the hard way of those costs.

In this case, both GinaMarie and Aaryn will now find themselves on the unemployment line because they exercised their right to free speech in a way that was hurtful to not only those they were living with in the house, but to an entire portion of the population in general.

I hope it was worth it, ladies.


  1. Good post, but there's more to the Paula Deen issue than just the n-word.
    If the accusations against Deen are true - then it was the environment of racial hostility that was fostered at her place of employment which is a lot worse than two reality stars saying racist stuff on television.

  2. Yeah, I'm sure that there is a lot more to the Paula Deen scandal as well that we don't know about either...and as of right now, they are just allegations. If they do happen to be one hundred per cent true, I'm sure that it will definitely hit the fan (that is, if it hasn't happened already).