The racist content of CBS’ long-running “reality” show Big Brother has served yet again to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the broadcast industry…and the people who run it.
Since its launch in the year 2000, CBS’ Big Brother – a so-called “reality” show in which disparate individuals are confined in a house together, where they plot against one another alá Survivor – has frequently seen distasteful behavior on the part of its contestants; but the program hit a new low recently, with cast members spewing racist comments.
On the Big Brother website – which shows what is happening in the house 24 hours a day -- contestant Amanda Zuckerman went on a racist tear, referring to "Puerto Rican showers," sneering at the accent of a Korean woman, calling one African-American contestant "the dark knight" and "the black mamba," and attacking another for her "nappy-hair head." This is in addition to other racist comments by other contestants earlier in the season, including remarks that “squinty-eyed” Asians should “go make a bowl of rice.”
CBS Chairman Les Moonves – whose Asian-American wife Julie Chen hosts Big Brother – stated that, "I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling," and that the show’s content "makes us uncomfortable." But despite the “appalling” racist behavior, Moonves didn’t stop it. In fact, he claimed that CBS “handled it properly" – by doing nothing at all.
This wasn’t Moonves’ reaction in 2007, when radio “shock-jock” Don Imus referred to Rutgers University women's basketball team players as "nappy-headed hos.” On that occasion, Moonves canceled Imus’ show outright, stating his concern over “the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society.” He added that, by firing Imus, CBS would “take an important and necessary step not just in solving a unique problem, but in changing that culture, which extends far beyond the walls of our company.”
What a difference half a decade makes. This time around, rather than a statement of concern about “the effect language like this has on our young people,” or a desire to “change that culture” for the better by accepting responsibility for what he chooses to put on the air, Moonves shrugged off Big Brother’s racism with, “it obviously is a social experiment…what you see there unfortunately is a reflection of how certain people feel in America.”
It is notable that another Big Brother star made even more horrific statements which were not even mentioned by Moonves. Contestant Spencer Clawson said that he enjoys viewing child pornography: “I love it when they’re around 3 or 4 years old. My favorite ones are when you can tell they’re in a basement.” Clawson also stated that masturbating to child porn is “my favorite thing there is.” Clawson’s remarks were sufficient to cause police in his hometown to investigate whether he actually had child pornography in his possession. Yet Moonves did not declare himself “appalled” at Clawson’s remarks. He didn't even mention them.
Apparently, the head of CBS believes that the sexual abuse of toddlers is merely another “reflection of how certain people feel.”