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Ovation: Julie Chen Takes A Stand Against “Big Brother” Bigotry.

07/10/2013

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Julie Suzanne Chen Moonves has been able to be on both sides of the news for years. Known simply as Julie Chen, the all-around television personality, news anchor and producer has been both the reporter and the subject. Currently, Chen is a co-host and the moderator of the CBS daytime show, The Talk, and has served as the host of the U.S. version of the CBS reality program Big Brother since its debut in July 2000.

The premise of Big Brother is that there is a group of people who are housemates or houseguests living together in a large, usually specially constructed house. During their time in the house they are isolated from the outside world and are not commonly aware of outside events. Contestants are continuously monitored by in-house television cameras as well as personal audio microphones during their stay. Having been a part of the Big Brother franchise since the beginning, Chen knows the game and what it takes to win. She, certainly, understands the concept of isolation better than the current group of contestants.

BigBrotherLogoSeveral of the participants in the current season have made statements that viewers consider, racist, homophobic and inappropriate and viewers have taken offense. Because they’re isolated, the houseguests have no idea that what they’re saying is making headlines. One young woman in particular, Aaryn Gries, has contributed to the controversial content of the show and fans are demanding that CBS remove her from the game.

“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. I took it personally. I’m a human being. The really sad part was 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. I thought, ‘Wow, I haven’t heard comments like that (in a long time).’ The year is 2013. I felt ignorant, there are still people in the country who feel that way and act that way? Yes there is … it made me sad.” – Julie Chen

Others, including myself, think they should let the game play out and the contestant face the consequences of their actions once they leave the house. News has already spread that Gries and one other houseguest have lost their jobs because of things that they’ve said on the television show and a third could face similar issues should he return to work. Of course, viewers could simply turn away and the network would get the message but I think it will be interesting to see if and when the other participants put a stop to her ignorant antics.

Gries is a bully. She’s a bully who, despite the fact that she’s wearing a microphone, forgets that she’s on television and that people are watching.

Julie Chen is a class act. The difficulty that I faced in my attempts to be objective in high school pale in comparison. Chen’s unique perspective allows her to be a part of the show and simultaneously cover it as news. I admire her very much.

Do you watch Big Brother? Do you think they should remove contestants from the competition when viewers take offense? Or should viewers switch away?

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From → Ovations

20 Comments
  1. I’m glad Chen spoke up because the CBS statement was basically “meh”.
    And I cannot wait for the two women who’ve lost their jobs to be voted out. i want to see their faces when they realize what’s happened because they thought they were being funny or, “whatever.”

    I think these two women said the things they did for shock value and for more screen time on the show. Now let them see that sometimes fame, or in this case infamy, ain’t all that.

    Like

    • I don’t think either of them are smart enough to intentionally say what they did for shock value or screen time. Perhaps they’ve simply let their true colors show on national television. I’m with Julie … it’s hard to believe that people still actually think and talk like that in the 21st century.

      Like

    • Amanda B permalink

      Who, other than Aaryn, lost their job??

      Like

      • Aaryn Griess has been dropped from her modeling contract with Zephyr Talent of Austin, Texas.

        GinaMarie Zimmerman lost her job as a coordinator for the New Jersey-based beauty-pageant company East Coast USA Pageant.

        Additionally, Spencer Clawson’s employer (Union Pacific) has distanced itself from his remarks, does not condone his comments and is “acting in accordance with Collective Bargaining Agreement terms”. So he, too, might find himself unemployed when he gets out of the house.

        Like

  2. I’m a long-time fan of the show and I was disgusted by the comments that were aired on Sunday night’s episode. The thing that struck me the most was the sheer stupidity and ignorance of the comments being made. If she’s allowed to stay on the show, I will be very interested to see Aaryn’s exit interview with Julie.

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    • I, too, am a long-time fan but I was glad that CBS aired the hateful things that these contestants are saying. I had been reading about the hostility in the house online and, via the 24/7 feeds, knew what was going on in the house. It would have been easy for CBS to not include the controversy in its prime time edit but they chose to air the comments rather than ignore them.

      Certainly, the resulting publicity will help the show’s ratings but that’s another story.

      What REALLY annoys me about the entire situation is the fact that none of the other houseguests have confronted her, pointed out her hatefulness and insisted that it stop. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. I don’t watch the show but know it through blogs and specifically through Dirk of Too Disgusting to Contemplate, Too Compelling to Ignore. Of all the reality shows, this one tapes the contestants the most (airing live feed on pay cable after hours) and is probably the least scripted. If CBS is at fault it is not for the remarks but for the screening process that got them on the show. But even with careful/proper screening who knows what these people are going to say or do. Wasn’t there a sexual assault one year?

    And I think you make the most valid point. The other contestants not shutting them down and holding them accountable are almost as bad. Isn’t there a point where Julie interacts with the contestants? She should address it then.

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    • Over the years, several Big Brother contestants have been ejected from the game. Season 2’s Justin Sebik and Season 4’s Scott Weintraub were both ejected from the game due to violence, Chima Simone was tossed out of Season 11 when she destroyed her microphone and last season they kicked Willie Hantz out of the house when he pretty much went berzerk. It’s my understanding that the producers can remove a contestant from the house at any time at their discretion.

      I don’t think they should eject anyone (yet) this season for “offensive comments”. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that this isn’t the first time that things like this have been said in the BB house. Perhaps, it’s the first time that viewers of the live feeds were offended enough to take to social media. I’d like to see the game work itself out … let the viewers vote for the MVP that they think will do the best job, let the houseguests learn more about each other as the summer progresses, and let the chips fall as they may.

      Julie only interacts with the contestants once each week during the “live eviction” episode each Thursday night. It will be interesting to see if the issue is addressed. I imagine the publicity department at CBS will continue to fan the flames of controversy for as long as they can.

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  4. I do not watch the show, but we should always try to call out bigotry when we see it. Fortunately, many can see the poor behavior and judge for themselves.

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  5. I do not watch that show or other reality shows like it. However, it is truly sad to hear about that attitude. When you choose to put yourself on camera, your words and actions come under scrutiny. It makes you wonder what Aaryn was thinking, if she was thinking at all.

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    • She doesn’t strike me as the “thinking” type. But this controversy, on the tail of the Paula Deen brouhaha, should keep people talking about the effects of racism.

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      • It makes me think about overt racism and ingrained racism. I believe Paula’s is more ingrained – considering her age and regional culture. I do not know enough about the other person but it makes me wonder if being young and brash is not working in her favor.

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        • That depends on what you mean be “working in her favor”. If she hopes to gain reality television notoriety, then she might be on the right track. But if she wants to win Season 15 of Big Brother I think she’s going about it all wrong.

          To me, racism is racism regardless of its source. People aren’t born racists, their taught to be racist.

          (Personally, I think Paula Deen’s problems escalated simply because she wouldn’t shut up. If she’d just said “Y’all … I didn’t mean nothing. I’m just an old white lady and that was a long time ago” and locked herself in her mansion it would’ve blown over. But, sadly, she wouldn’t let it rest and her peculiar appearance on the TODAY Show started the ball rolling downhill.)

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          • What I meant by ‘not working in her favor’ is that Aaryn is if this was a ploy to get more attention, she got it but in all the wrong ways. From comments you and others made, she is not all that smart or self-conscious enough to know what she is saying is wrong.

            And as for ingrained vs. overt, I look at KKK people as being overt. Their racism is out there all of the time and proudly so. Westboro Baptists would also fit that definition. Ingrained is more insidious. Who knew Paula Deen could be this way until all of the little things, the little details, started piling up? Suddenly, it is a lifestyle of slights and put downs that are not always noticeable until bigger stuff (such as plantation weddings with ‘slave’ servers) show up.

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          • These are excellent explanations of over and ingrained racism and I agree with them completely. Perhaps there is a third type of racist … one who “thinks” it but doesn’t “speak” it.

            It will be interesting to see what happens on the Big Brother live eviction episode this evening.

            Thanks for reading!

            Like

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