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Is CBS deliberately skewing 'Big Brother 4' to make final 2 look less offensive?

By Wade Paulsen, 09/18/2003 

Protecting its franchise? Or protecting its ratings? One of those appears to be what CBS is trying to do in its careful editing of its weekly broadcasts of Big Brother 4, as it hides the bigoted and offensive comments by the final two contestants from the mass TV audience.

WARNING: This post contains unedited rough language used by the Big Brother 4 contestants.

Jam! Showbiz reports that in its broadcast of two Big Brother 4 episodes this week, CBS omitted all of the footage from Monday night (Sept. 15) when the two finalists, Alison Irwin and Jun Song, verbally attacked the third-place finisher, Robert Roman, in front of the cameras and the live Internet audience. During their tirade, Alison, who had previously called Robert a "Cuban faggot," stated her desire to evict his "motherfucking Cuban ass," while Jun mocked his family's ethnic heritage and repeatedly referred to his young daughter as a "bitch."

CBS had shown no previous reticence to air controversial and inflammatory comments made during the show. For example, a tirade by Robert in which he referred to some of the women contestants as ""whores", "sluts" and "bitches" was aired, and Robert was even questioned about his comments by Big Brother host Julie Chen, better known for her role in breaking up CBS chief Les Moonves' marriage than for her hard-hitting interviews. Nevertheless, none of Jun or Alison's comments were included -- even though this was not a one-shot deal, which Jun proved by referring to Robert as a "Cuban fuck" yesterday prior to airtime.

So, why would CBS choose to ignore these hateful words, which generated even more disgust with Ali and Jun among BB4 fans, as reflectied on the Reality TV World message boards? (See here and here for samples.) We can think of only two reasons: harm to the Big Brother franchise or ratings. However, as we find it difficult to believe that the Big Brother U.S. franchise, which has already featured a knife-wielding assailant with a prior criminal record and a violent ex-lover with a sexually-transmitted disease among other miscreants, can be hurt any further, it has to be ratings.

Last night's episode drew the best audience of the summer, and CBS apparently didn't want to run the risk that viewers would skip next week's finale if they knew just how vile the last two houseguests really are ,,, and that bigotry really does pay, since either Ali or Jun will receive $500,000. Come to think of it, we're not even sure if we're even going to watch.

We have heard from some Big Brother fans that our headline, discussing "racism" in the house, overstates the level of bigotry shown by Alison and Jun toward Robert's Latino heritage. We make no apologies for our choice of words. The use of "Cuban" as an epithet by both Alison and Jun, in such phrases as "motherfucking Cuban ass," "Cuban faggot," and "Cuban fuck" seems to us to clearly illustrate their bigotry, as does Jun's mockery of Robert's family for not speaking English.

Is this bigotry sufficient to infer that Alison and Jun think Cubans are inferior, which is required to elevate bigotry to racism? Perhaps not -- but we cannot imagine anyone who would refer to a little girl from a different ethnic group as a "bitch" sight unseen who didn't harbor feelings that the little girl's group was inferior. Maybe we just don't have enough experience with true hate. However, we still have one more week to learn about it from Alison and Jun.

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