Big Brother 15: Racists & Bigots Reign Supreme, The Real Reason I’m Upset

I have been meaning to write a blog about Big Brother 15 for a couple of weeks now. This is a show that I had not watched in years, for one reason or another, and I had never watched the live feeds. This year, I happened to catch the season premiere and, since they were offering a 2 day free trial, I signed up for live feeds as well. To say that I was instantly addicted is an understatement!

Since I have always had an interest in observing human behavior, particular to our society here in the United States, having the opportunity to observe people in the bubble that is Big Brother opened up a whole new world to me. Yes, I know that I am late to the party, but at the time I thought, “Better late than never!”

In life, I like to consider myself an “extremely amateur” anthropologist,  but even with this interest, the ultimate purpose of watching Big Brother is to engage in a form of escapism. That is what all reality TV is for me. When I sit down to watch Big Brother, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, or Project Runway, I do so with the expectation that I will be amused and entertained for the following hour or so. I do not expect to end the night with a knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I don’t expect to end up reflecting on my own struggles in life based upon who I am on a relatively superficial level. And, yes, I do view race, as defined by our society, as quite superficial. My skin is brown, my nose is wide. My lips are plump, my hair is kinky. My voice is full, its tone is textured. None of these things define who I am on the inside.

When it hit the press that several of the cast members of Big Brother 15 had made bigoted and insensitive remarks, the story seemed to blow up overnight. It seemed that for a while, people were on “Racial Slur Watch”, waiting for the next bigoted remark to fly out of someone’s mouth. Most of the earlier offenses have been featured in this YouTube video. Fans of Big Brother flocked to social media to voice their outrage and many wanted the show to remove the most prominent offenders from the household altogether. Even Big Brother hostess, and co-host of The Talk, made a statement about how the racial slurs, made by Aaryn Gries and Gina Marie Zimmerman, made her feel as an Asian-American woman.

For a while, there was fear that Big Brother would cover up the bigotry altogether, but it seemed that they came to somewhat of a compromise. They would pick one house guest to feature as “The Racist” on the nationally televised shows. That person was Aaryn Gries.

While many were thrilled that they did not try to sweep the bigotry entirely under the rug, it doesn’t seem fair to exclude the comments of Gina Marie (who just this week called Candice Stewart an “oreo cookie” and mocked her attempts to come to grips with who she is as a biracial person), Spencer Clawson (who has made more homophobic, misogynistic and grossly perverted comments than I can count ), and Amanda Zuckerman (who engaged in discussion of a brutal and graphic rape fantasy involving fellow cast member Jessie Kowalski and has accused Howard of playing the race card because he dared to voice his displeasure with Aaryn’s comments). SIDE NOTE: In the aforementioned fantasy, Jessie would be gang raped and brutally murdered by a slit to her throat. Spencer’s contribution to the fantasy was that they would use Jessie’s blood and tears for lubrication. In short, these people are nasty human beings and it is very difficult to root for them, but it has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to even tolerate watching them at all. 

In the game of Big Brother, each individual is expected to play the game to the best of their ability. Being a lying, conniving, manipulative snake is almost required if you expect to make it through each week, and definitely required if you want to win. These are things about the game that all fans have come to love and anticipate. These are things that the majority of viewers look forward to every summer… But, this summer, it’s different.

Flipped Mattress-Gate:

I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to witness Howard comfort Candice after her “blackness” was mocked and her mattress was flipped. I cried with Candice, who desperately wanted to stand up to her bullies, and demand respect from them that she was and is never going to get. After Howard calmed Candice down, and she left the room, I cried again as I witnessed him struggle to get a hold of his own emotions.  The powerlessness he felt in that moment was overwhelming for me, so I know that it was at least doubly so for him. And, once again, later that night, I cried as I watched Howard and Candice make a pallet on the cold floor of the Have Not room as if it was 1955 and Rosa Parks had yet to Refuse to Move.  Even now, I cry as I recount the events of that evening. But here is the thing that people do not understand. The anger, the sorrow, the frustration, the tears are not because some 22-year-old sheltered, naive and ignorant little girl from Texas flipped a black girl’s mattress. It’s not even because she has  shown complete disdain and a total lack of respect towards, not only Candice and black people, but minorities and gay people across the world. My anger, my sorrow, my tears, MY FRUSTRATION is for the society that created her in the first place.

As minorities in the United States of America, we are tasked with the unique burden of carrying the weight of the entirety of our races on our shoulders – but, only the negative aspects. We do not get to be judged, first, on our own individual merits. Black women like me, like Candice, are all judged by the “Shaniquas” of the world. The BLACK “welfare queen” with five kids and four “baby daddies.” We are regarded as promiscuous sloths (or a “bitch sloth” as Judd Daugherty called Candice recently) and leeches on a society that we don’t serve a significant purpose in.  When faced with one who does not meet these stereotypes, the lesson is not that perhaps their outlook on life is limited or too narrow. The lesson is, either, “She is just one of the ‘good ones,'” or “She is fake.” It can’t be that they are just wrong about Candice’s character. It is obvious that she is trying to “talk like a white girl” intentionally, and that she is only pretending to be nice, right?

This burden.

For the last decade, plus, I have felt that I have served my purpose by being an example of what it means to be a black woman who is just a woman. You are more likely to find me listening to rock than R & B music. I have a range of interests from reality shows like Big Brother to Scandal and Masterpiece Theater. I am not Shaniqua with a lot of babies, living in section 8 housing. I am not on welfare, I do not receive food assistance.  I am just me, a woman who wants security and happiness in my future. I am just me, a woman who happens to have dark brown skin. I am just me.

My desire to be known as just me, a single and childless 34-year-old woman from the suburbs of Atlanta, isn’t mine alone. I know it may be presumptuous to state this, because I am certainly not the mouthpiece for all minorities, but I am fairly certain that the majority of minorities would love to partake in the experience of being judged as an individual.

Big Brother Elimination Show 07/26/2013:

Tonight, after Aaryn survived being eliminated for the second week in a row and, in fact, went on to win Head of Household, it suddenly dawned on me why I continued watching Big Brother, even after the producers opted not to remove the offenders. A part of me, probably all of me really, had been rooting and hoping for this tiny, insignificant victory because the issues that truly matter feel so insurmountable. I had been holding on to this notion that, AT LEAST, in a world that is not so real, good people can still get ahead of those who are not so good. No, minorities never do well in games like Big Brother where they have to rely on a majority cast of white people to support them, but I have grown to accept that. This is just a reality TV show, after all. It’s not real life. But… this season, it has been all too real.

In the end, the sad fact is that our society has been trained to disregard the plight of minorities. Technically, we are now given the same rights as white people, so people think that the work is done. It’s not. Underlying bigotry and discrimination continues to play a major role in the lives of minorities, everyday. Phrases like “playing the race card,” “chip on your shoulder,” and even “white guilt,” (which is really just a PC way of calling a white person a “nigger lover”) are frequently thrown out for the sole purpose of diminishing the concern of those who dare mention legitimate claims of bigotry.

Our society has also been trained to accept its prejudices towards minorities. Although 8 to 9 out of 10 times a white person is victimized, it is at the hands of another white person, it’s okay to fear all minorities because this provides an illusion of safety which seems to be more important than actual safety. 

Profiling black people because some black people do bad things, it’s okay.

Profiling all Muslims because some Muslims have done bad things, it’s okay.

Profiling all Hispanics because some Hispanics have done bad things, it’s okay.

Profiling all white people because some white people have done bad things, it’s not okay.

(It’s important to note that I am not suggesting that we start to profile white people for crimes they have yet to commit, just that minorities shouldn’t be neither.)

There will never be a time where all white CEOs, bankers, and other white collar professionals are placed under additional scrutiny because the vast majority of white collar fraud is committed by white men. There will never be a time where white men will have to worry about stop and frisk. There will never be a time where all white males between the ages of 14 to 55 are placed under additional scrutiny because they are most likely to go on a mass shooting spree or be a serial killer. This is what “white privilege” means.

White privilege is not having to answer for anyone but yourself.

White privilege is enjoying the benefit of the doubt.

White privilege means not having to justify your emotions when you are genuinely offended by someone.

White privilege is being able to sit around with other white people and say that people are too sensitive to racial slurs, as Jessie said last night when the white house guests were joking around about different offensive things that had been said.

White privilege is thinking that being called a dumb blonde is analogous to the racism minorities face.

Tonight, I called and canceled my Big Brother live feed account. While I know that the bigots in the house are products of their environment, and our society, the emotional toll derived from watching this show now officially outweighs its entertainment value. 

P.S. – Big Brother Edits:

OK, I know that things such as a “rape fantasy” could never be broadcast on national TV, but let’s not forget that Amanda was just featured as the “victim” of mean comments made by Elissa about Amanda’s risque”birthday gift” to McCrae. In jest or not, it was disturbing and it’s not the only time Amanda has mentioned using a knife on one of the cast members. She did so again, recently, the night she called Candice fat and ugly. Elissa’s comments were not nearly as harsh as that “fantasy,” but she did say it so that Amanda could hear it.  If the belief is that it is okay to talk about people behind their backs, we cannot forget that these comments are out there for the world to see and everyone will eventually see what was said about them while they were in the house. The point is,  if you are not going to air the horrible and cruel things that Amanda has said about other cast members, don’t REWARD her with television edits that make her look like a decent human being worthy of empathy that she herself does not seem to possess for others. That’s all.

CATHARSIS. 

I feel better now.

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14 Responses to “Big Brother 15: Racists & Bigots Reign Supreme, The Real Reason I’m Upset”

  1. Just wanted you to know that I have been beaten up by a black man because he “thought I was looking at him”. I had my watch taken off my arm by a black man because I was walking through the neighborhood to feed the homeless. I can no longer walk because of these injuries. I was attacked by an Hispanic that called me a gimp because I took too long to place an order and that I was white. I was thrown on the ground by a minority policeman that broke a disc in my back and neck, beause I was white and he had the wrong house. Now do you see that profiling goes both ways. I make no excuses for the dumb people in that house. Who knows what they have in their background, maybe some are mixed, and don’t know it. I would love to see that Aaryn and GM were. But prejudice knows no boundaries. Howard is no angel and should lose his job as a youth consultant for the lies he has told. He is no role model for kids. I support Candice all the way though. She is a good person, and a role model for everyone.

    • I never said that minorities never do anything wrong. Only that the odds of white people being attacked by minorities is much slimmer than being attacked by those within their race. If you just look at raw numbers, statistically, that is very clear. I also never said that minorities were immune from having prejudices and bigotry towards others. But, let’s face it, minorities don’t have the numbers to make this a systemic problem. Nor do they have the ability to shape the worldview of the hundreds of millions of people who live in America, and the billions that live abroad. The power is not with “the minority” and that is what makes the experiences of the average white American different than the experience of the average black/brown American. Just my example of profiling shows you that. The logic used to profile black people, muslims and hispanics can easily be applied to white people, but it isn’t. In fact, most would find the notion ridiculous.

      Anyway, I am very sorry that you have experienced these things and what happened to you is not right. It’s never right. All I want is for people to be judged for who they are, and not the skin they wear and that, of course, extends to white people.

    • Oh, and as far as Howard, I don’t know if I agree he should lose his job due to lying. As I said, the game is about lying and it’s impossible to play this game without doing so. I see some characteristics of Howard that I like, and some that I don’t like. Namely, the way that he speaks to Candice. I also did not like how he participated in throwing Candice under the bus with the rest of the house the first couple of weeks. Also, I think one of his biggest problems is how this game conflicts with his moral and religious convictions, and the person that he is trying to be. I do think that it was hard for him to behave the way that he did the first couple of weeks, and that’s why things blew up in his face. He was out of character and made a lot of very poor decisions due to it. He has never been able to repair the damage he did to his game, and really he can only blame himself. Who starts an alliance day 1?

      The thing that really bugs me is that Candice never got a fair chance to really play the game because the other cast members made her persona non grata, first of all, and second of all she had to deal with the mean girls and their snide, ignorant and bigoted remarks. People don’t tend to realize how things like that mess with your mental well being. She still doesn’t have an alliance, not a real one. I think that, without the racism she faced and the freeze out, she would be playing a better. She got attached to Howard when he “rescued” her during the bed flipping incident and I find that to be based purely on emotion vs logic.

  2. thank you for this blog…it has expressed what I have been feeling since I started watching this season. I can’t know exactly what the struggles are, but I do agree that we as a society need to make some changes. I cried with you and howard and candace at those moments of the bed flipping, and I am disgusted and walk away from the computer on more than one occasion throughout the day, I hope this is a learning experience for everyone watching.

  3. Thank you for this article. I had no idea about Amanda’s comments. And about the racism: Some of the live feed chats include comments that racism doesn’t exist any longer, that this was exaggerated, that Aaryn did not really say anythign wrong, or that racism isn’t a big deal anymore, etc. I say watch the Frontline undercover news report with Diane Sawyer entitled True Colors, and then say that racism does not exist anymore.

    • Yes, Iva. Aaryn even said recently that Candice needs to go because Candice is calling her a racist and putting her career in jeopardy. All of this is Candice’s fault, according to her. When she says things like that, it truly makes me doubt her ability to ever comprehend the problem with her actions, even in hindsight. Friday, the day after HOH, Aaryn and Amanda engaged in a full out Candice bashing session and Amanda said that she’s not worried about CBS ever showing the things she has said about Candice. Luckily, even with CBS censoring Amanda’s bad behavior, enough people watching live feeds know her true character to have voted her 3rd nominee this week. I hoped against hope that Candice would win the POV and pull Howard off, but that didn’t happen.

      Anyway, this season has truly just been unreal. I can’t imagine that CBS ever expected to have this many vile and hateful people in one season. I’m curious about how they will try to spin Howard’s eviction with Aaryn putting Candice up alongside him…. You know, given that Aaryn was the one they decided to portray as The Racist while letting the others slide. I guess we’ll find out soon. 🙂

      Thank you for reading my article!

  4. Great article. I appreciate and agree with everything you said. Monty’s comments showed how people can and will hear and see only what they want in many instances. I cried the nite of “mattress gate” as well. It took me forever to sleep that night because I was so upset. I visited the Civil Rights museum in Birmingham AL this afternoon and would like to think that we have come so far, but the truth is our country will be dealing with this is for a very long time. It makes me sad. I wanted to stop watching the feeds and the show all together. But I will watch because I would like to see how this plays out. Kaitlyn’s tweets since her eviction have been very insightful on how the houseguests who made these comment will probably act after coming out of the house. I am a white 30 something female that has black family members that I am extremely proud if and love to the ends of the world. I would like to believe that the Big Brother house does not represent the majority of Americans. Btw… I’m also from tx and would LOVE to see Aryan on the street to have a few words…. PR Co be damned.

  5. I find it shocking to admit to myself that I am now 63 years old but the fact is, I really am! Having lived through the sixties in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was part of the eager (yet naive) young group that thought that we could truly change society for the better, and did all we could to do so… At one time I was convinced that we had made a difference- Could I have been any more mistaken? I fear for our society today. I never thought that it was possible for things to go so “backwards” as they indeed have- Sadly I was unaware of how so many of our young people view those that are “different” then they are! I share your hurt, frustration, and tears! God bless you for your article!!!!

  6. I agree with everything you have said! ( expect the serial killer part since most serial killers are white men). Aaryn, Spencer, and GM deserve to lose their jobs and the treatment they will hopefully receive from the public when they are out of the house. And please don’t forget about Jeremy and Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn is only making excuses for her behavior, not apologizing. I did the exact thing you mentioned to begin with. Watched the feeds to hear the next racist remark so I could call my girlfriends and we could discuss why we thought CBS should release/fire them. But then the mattress was flipped. I sat at my computer and cried when Howard comforted Candice. I didn’t call my friends that day…I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk without crying. Instead I texted them to watch it on YouTube. I have never felt a worse feeling in my stomach. I felt that again tonight when Howard told Candice to go get her bed back. I will feel even worse if he leaves that house before her!

    I feel all this pain for Howard and Candice but I am not a minority. I am a white 34 year old southern married mother of twins from a “well off family” who married a sourthern white boy from a “well off family”. I will never be able to understand walking in your shoes but you can’t always understand how all “white” people feel. I have a heart that cries the same tears yours does. Listen to Acciendal Racist by Brad Paisely and LL Cool J. They explain it well.

    • Oh, I definitely know that all white people aren’t like what is being represented by the cast of Big Brother this year. I don’t even think most feel that way. Just enough to still make life difficult for many of us.

      Thank you for taking the time out to read and comment. I think that on a basic human level, all people (regardless of race) should be able to empathize with what happened that night. It’s just that some people don’t really have the ability to do that. Especially if they feel as if they can’t relate.

      Aaryn feels as if she has done and said nothing wrong and, if she faces any backlash outside of the house, it’s Candice’s fault for calling her a racist. What’s crazy is that Candice doesn’t know half of what has been said about her, so it’s a lot worse than she even recognizes.

      I just keep reminding myself that Aaryn is young, but she shows such lack of introspection that I don’t know if time and experience will teach her anything. Gina Marie is a decade older and should already know better, but doesn’t. I guess time will tell. 🙂

  7. Gosh why is it not a surprise that you haven’t mentioned once the comments that Candace has made. Such as saying it’s not a surprise that the redneck Aaryn put her on the block. Typical how that gets left out of your discussion. If the comments are vial as you say then they should be vial no matter who says it. But somehow you will twist it and make it seem like what Candice said and the pathetic rant she went on when she was lied to by who??? Helen. Again You don’t mention the fact that Helen cant have a conversation without lying or bullying someone. Guess you didn’t want that brought up. My point is all races are racist. But only one race gets called out for it. That’s the “reality” going on here.

    • If you would check the date of my post and the date that Candice was put on the block, you will see that this blog preceded it. Secondly, this post wasn’t about lying in the Big Brother house, or being manipulative. Those things are actually part of the game. To complain about them would be ridiculous.

      (ETA: Originally I said I wouldn’t defend Candice’s use of redneck, but there is actually an EDCUATED defense, so here it is!)

      Here is the definition of “Redneck:”

      redneck  
      Use Redneck in a sentence
      red·neck [red-nek] Show IPA Informal: Often Disparaging.
      noun
      1.
      an uneducated white farm laborer, especially from the South.
      2.
      a bigot or reactionary, especially from the rural working class.
      adjective
      3.
      Also, red-necked. narrow, prejudiced, or reactionary: a redneck attitude. Synonyms: biased, narrow-minded, intolerant. Antonyms: fair-minded, open-minded, broad-minded, tolerant, unbiased, impartial.
      Also, red-neck.

      —-

      Aaryn behaves very much like a redneck, by definition. Now, we can debate on whether or not having a ranch is the same as having a farm, but whatever…

      Now, if Candice had said that white people were nothing but a bunch of rednecks, or called Aaryn a redneck without Aaryn exhibiting bigoted views, that would have been analogous with what has been happening in the house. But, that’s not how that came about. Candice called her a redneck solely because of the things Aaryn has been saying about minorities in the house, not just because Aaryn is white.

      But… nice try.

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