Every summer millions of viewers entrench themselves in television’s ultimate social experiment, Big Brother.
A number of people are chosen to live in a house and battle it out – through physical and social game play – for half a million dollars. Second place gets $50,000, and a lesser known fact is that the remaining house guests, including those that don’t make it to Jury, also get a monetary stipend.
The Big Brother house is covered with cameras and microphones that provide 24 surveillance coverage to capture the house guests’ every move. You can even subscribe to a live feed .
The house is typically filled with a diverse group of personalities, ripe with “showmances,” and always controversy. This summer, however, has yielded more than just your run of the mill lying, cheating and backstabbing.
More than a few house guests in the Big Brother 15 house have revealed deeply rooted racist, sexist and homophobic prejudices. Some have even incurred professional retaliation outside of the house. Aaryn Gries has been dropped from her modeling contract. GinaMarie Zimmerman has been fired, and Spencer Clawson has been criticized by his employer.
While the “live feeders” were aware of the controversial remarks far before the general public, national media attention and pressure from the online community, including past contests, likely prompted CBS to air some of Aaryn’s and GinaMarie’s remarks. Check out the clip that aired on CBS a couple of weeks ago:
For a detailed look at the bitter, reprehensible, and demeaning comments that reference Asians, African-Americans, gays and lesbians, mentally disabled individuals and women visit the BB15 Bigotry Supercut.
While the culpable house guests will undoubtedly face years of personal and professional consequences when they leave the Big Brother house, I think we have to ask one very serious question:
Why exactly are they still in the house?
Why hasn’t CBS removed them? Technically, they are paid to live in that house, and it’s been made clear that this kind of behavior gets someone fired. At the very least, why haven’t other house guests voted them out? GinaMarie was on the chopping block last week, and Aaryn has been on the block for the past two weeks, yet neither have been evicted.
Inside the house, Aaryn’s comments face much harsher criticism than GinaMarie’s, and Amanda’s go virtually unopposed. Many of the house guests, including Amanda, Aaryn, Helen, Jessie and possibly Judd now consider Candice (an African-American house guest who has been the target of many racially motivated comments) the bully. Amanda and McCrae even want to take Aaryn to the final four.
Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have believed that Aaryn could gain sympathy with the other house guests, but then I remembered that Adam Jasinski, Big Brother season 9 contestant, was fired from his job at the United Autism Foundation for referring to autistic children as “retards.” He went on to win that season – a grand prize of $500,000 – and became a fan favorite. Unaware of his job status, he pledged to donate $100,000 to autism and during a veto competition he selflessly gave $10,000 to another houseguest, a single mother who he felt needed the money much more than he did.
Adam Jasinski is currently serving time in prison for “possession of oxycodone with attempt to distribute and failing to file a tax return for 2008,” the year he won Big Brother. None of his prize money went to benefit autism. Somehow he managed to fool the other house guests, and he fooled America.
Because the winner of Big Brother is determined by the recently evicted house guests, would someone take Aaryn to the final two because they think they could beat her? Could someone in that house give Aaryn $50,000 for the sake of winning $500,000? If she stays long enough, could she possibly gain enough sympathy to win the half a million?
Maybe the real question is:
Would you take Aaryn to the final two for $500,000?
Here is a look at what that $500,000 costs:
Big Brother 15 has provided us with a very sobering reality: racism is real, and it’s more alive than many people choose to believe. Aaryn Gries has shown America that prejudice and discrimintation aren’t a symptom of an older generation. Aaryn is a 22-year-old, blonde haired, blue-eyed college student who believes she hasn’t said or done anything wrong. If this kind of behavior is happening in a house where contestants know they’re being watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, what is happening in their home towns?
As for now, Aaryn holds all the power as the Head of Household. She nominated Howard and Spencer for eviction. America nominated Amanda. Yesterday, Spencer took himself off the block with the power of veto, and Aaryn nominated Candice in his place.
I’m hoping for a miracle this week – a house flip on Amanda – so Howard and Candice can stay and play the game together.
Either way, the outcome of this season will determine whether I continue to watch Big Brother. I’ve seen every season. It is my ultimate summer show, but if Aaryn or GinaMarie win Big Brother 15 I’ll never watch another episode.
Who am I if I sit back and relish in an entertainment program where prejudice and discrimination win someone $500,000, or even $50,000? I don’t want to be that person. So, Big Brother, I’m begging you:
Please prove me wrong.