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‘Big Brother’ contestants fired from their real-life jobs for hateful comments

anne_t_donahue
omg! TV
July 5, 2013

They'll tolerate a lot in the "Big Brother" house -- and apparently, that includes racism and homophobia. Despite making offensive comments on the show's 24/7 feed, contestants GinaMarie Zimmerman and Aaryn Gries will be staying on the show.

They will not, however, be staying at their real-life jobs once the show is over.

According to TMZ, Zimmerman was employed with East Coast USA Pageant Inc. before joining "Big Brother" as a contestant. At least, until she was seen on the "Big Brother" live feeds referring to welfare as "n----r insurance." (Seriously. She said that. Out loud.) Unsurprisingly, her employers were not happy.

"We have never known this side of GinaMarie or have ever witnessed witnessed such acts of racism in the past," a pageant spokesperson told TMZ. "We are actually thankful that the show let us see GinaMarie for who she truly is. We would never want her to be a role model to our future contestants."

But she wasn't the only one to cross the line. Hours before, "Big Brother" houseguest Aaryn Gries was fired from her modelling agency after calling a gay contestant "queer," telling Asian-American contestant Helen to "go make some rice," and then saying about African-American contestant Candice, "Be careful what you say in the dark, you might not be able to see that b----."

Nope. Awful. And CBS -- according to a statement -- agrees. Sort of.

"'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," the network told TV Guide. "At times, the Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. We certainly find the statements made by several 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."

OK, well, that's kind of understandable. Except that if the show is so adamantly against what Zimmerman and Gries had to say, why weren't their comments included in the actual "Big Brother" broadcast? While they were caught on the live stream (which viewers have to pay to watch), the comments were edited out of the actual episode.

In fact, this has happened before in 2011, when houseguest Jeff Schroeder went on a homophobic rant while discussing "Harry Potter," stressing how wrong it is to send kids to a "fantasy camp" run by a gay man. (That would be Dumbledore. A fictional character.) In that case, too, CBS stated that they "certainly [found] the statements made by several of the Houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive" -- despite also editing Schroeder's bigoted comments out of the show. They certainly had practice: in 2009, they did the same thing, editing out another one of Schroeder's homophobic rants (this time, he referred to houseguest Jesse as a "f-g," "b---h," and "f------g homo f----t"). In fact, CBS frequently brought Schroeder back on "Big Brother" and even went on to cast him on "The Amazing Race," which seems to indicate that the network wasn't that unhappy about his comments.

What gives? If we're supposed to see the best and the worst of the "Big Brother" houseguests, shouldn't we see these hateful sides of their personalities? If they're going to take accountability for their strategies and hook-ups, they should be taking accountability for their racism and homophobia, too.

And at what point does the series begin drawing the line? Do they really want to be known for housing homophobes and racists? Is "Big Brother" really about tolerating bigotry? And would the show really lose its audience if it followed the lead of two zero tolerance modelling agencies?

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