LOS ANGELES — CBS’ “Big Brother” tackled the growing controversy surrounding some of its contestants head-on on Sunday’s episode, airing the controversial racist, ethnic and homophobic slurs that had previously aired only on the show’s online live stream.
A segment of the episode focused on contestant Aaryn Gries, showing a montage of her derogatory comments made about African-American, Asian-American and gay members of the house — and viewers weren’t happy with what they saw.
Fellow “houseguest” GinaMarie Zimmerman was also shown making similar comments while talking with Gries, as was houseguest Spencer Clawson, was also heard making racist comments on the show’s live feed and referring to openly gay housemate Andy as “Kermit the Fag.”
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In the clips, Gries is shown mocking Asian accents, saying a fellow contestant should “shut up and go make some rice” and claiming that, in the matter of who will get house MVP, “no one will vote for whoever that queer puts up,” also referring to Andy.
The offensive comments first came to light last week when fans who monitored the show’s round-the-clock live feed began discussing them online.
But what Gries and Zimmerman don’t know is that they have both lost their day jobs, at a modeling agency and a beauty pageant, respectively.
Zephyr Talent in Austin, Texas said last week they had seen enough, and decided to drop Aaryn from her contract.
“Aaryn, season 15 cast member of Big Brother, revealed prejudices and other beliefs that we (Zephyr Talent) do not condone,” the agency said, in a statement. “We certainly find the statements made by Aaryn on the live Internet feed to be offensive. Upon much consideration, we have decided to release Aaryn from her contract with Zephyr Talent.”
East Coast USA Pageant said it too had terminated Zimmerman, where she’s worked for five years.
Lauren Handler, national director and CEO, said East Coast USA Pageant was “in disbelief and shock” after watching Zimmerman’s comments.
Handler said that the organization is “unable to contact [Zimmerman] at this time,” but when she returns from the the “Big Brother” house, she will be terminated “for her unforgivable behavior.”
Clawson’s employer, Union Pacific, also released a statement condemning the contestant’s comments, but did not comment on his continued employment.
CBS also released this statement, distancing itself from its contestants remarks:
“‘Big Brother’ is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7 — and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone.
We certainly find the statements made by several of the Houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a Houseguest appearing on ‘Big Brother,’ either on any live feed from the House or during the broadcast, are those of the individual(s) speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS or the producers of the program.”
The network had previously received criticism from a former contestant who urged CBS to not cover up the comments and deal with the issue head-on.
While things may be looking dire for the contestants in their personal lives, the controversy has been a boon for CBS, which saw an increase in ratings for the episode, making it the most-watched network show on Sunday night.
But according to some viewers, however, the network didn’t go far enough, as they didn’t show the sexist or anti-Semitic comments Clawson has uttered in the house, or the numerous other inappropriate comments from other houseguests.
Following are excerpts containing some of the anti-gay and racial slurs; the homophobic slurs start around the 6:00 minute mark: