by Julian Spivey
I don’t watch the CBS reality series “Big Brother.” I figured I’d get that out of the way immediately because 1.) I don’t want people seriously thinking I watch that stuff 2.) I don’t want people complaining that I don’t really know what I’m talking about as far as the game goes, because I honestly don’t have any more clue than what little I hear my girlfriend — who is an avid fan of the show — talk about.
I’d like to go about my life as if “Big Brother,” and most reality television for that matter, doesn’t exist, but the show has made that impossible over the last month-plus with its controversies regarding race and other topics.
It’s been over a month since “Big Brother 15” contestants — 22-year old college student/model/apparent aspiring Klan lead Aaryn Gries, 32-year old beauty pageant coordinator GinaMarie Zimmerman and 31-year old railroad conductor Spencer Clawson — made numerous racist and offensive comments on the show. Since that point there have been numerous evictions made on the show, but not a single one of contestants who made racist or insensitive remarks, especially ringleader Aaryn, have been evicted.
That’s a pretty damning sign for current race relations in America.
If you lived in a house with multiple racists wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to kick those people out of the house as quickly as you could, even if it might not be the best move you could make in the strategy of the game? I know I would.
In not doing a single thing to kick Aaryn and her racist cohorts out of the “Big Brother” house, the fellow contestants are essentially saying that either they don’t have a problem with the comments/actions of their fellow housemates or it’s simply not as important to them as winning a silly game — albeit one worth many thousands of dollars. It’s disheartening and likely telling that none of the other houseguests had the courage or forethought to kick these racist/offensive people out of the house, especially after a month. It’s even more upsetting that some of the contestants are even rallying around some of these racist/offensive contestants and being friendly with/to them, according to my girlfriend — again you couldn’t get me to watch this tripe, especially now given its propensity for racism/offensiveness.
I wonder if “Big Brother” failing to oust its racist/offensive houseguests and its seemingly OK-ness/friendliness toward them is synonymous with the way America treats or reacts around racism? Are we either blind to it or supportive of it as a nation in general?
This continuing story reminds me of a great scene in the classic Sidney Lumet 1957 courtroom drama “12 Angry Men.” In that movie there is a part where the other jurymen have had enough of juror 10’s (played by Ed Begley) constant bigotry and one-by-one they all turn their back on him, ignoring him until he finally realizes he’s not getting anywhere with them and realizes his own hatred and is essentially shutdown for the remainder of the case; his thoughts no longer having merit among the group. The scene is one that is maybe not in line with the naturalism of the rest of the movie, but is placed there to quite obviously prove a point and one that in 1957 — apparently as well as today — is worth making. It’s there to point out that this type of racist behavior/thinking should not be tolerated.
This moment from “12 Angry Men” is one that 56 years after the movie’s release I think should’ve been replicated in real life among the “Big Brother” houseguests. Every single one of them should have put their foot down and not have rested until every single one of the racists were evicted from the house.
It was the perfect opportunity for a group of people with America watching their every move to say, “We don’t condone this and will not accept this kind of behavior.” However, all of the “Big Brother” contestants are either looking out for their own well-being or are perfectly fine with the racist attitudes within the house to do a damn thing about it.
The “Big Brother 15” contestants have failed America when it comes to their attitudes or acceptance of racism — maybe we shouldn’t be surprised from a group of people on a reality television program, but maybe their attitudes and acceptance of racism is proof of a bigger issue within the nation as a whole.