Aaryn Gries' mom: I'm upset about her 'Big Brother' comments, but also with Julie Chen and CBS
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/06/2013
Aaryn Gries will likely be remembered for making racist and homophobic slurs during her time as a houseguest on Big Brother's fifteenth season, but her mother Elizabeth Owens is jumping to her daughter's defense although not excusing the unacceptable behavior.
"While I love and continue to support my daughter Aaryn, words cannot describe my disappointment in some of her comments made on Big Brother," Owens said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
"These inappropriate comments certainly do not represent the value system under which her father and I have raised her. Aaryn is a young 22-year-old college student that has spent 70 days living in a fish bowl and making mistakes for America to see. [We wanted] Americans to see the young woman that I know; Aaryn is kind, loving and generous, though certainly not perfect and without fault in this incidence."
Gries won't find out she lost her job until Big Brother's season concludes, as she's currently sequestered in the show's jury house. However, Big Brother host Julie Chen reminded Gries of some of the offensive comments during the houseguest's live post-eviction interview last week.
"Be careful what you say in the dark, [you] might not be able to see the bitch," Gries said about black contestant Candice Stewart.
Referring to Asian American houseguest Helen Kim, Gries had said, "Shut up, go make some rice!"
When once talking about gay contestant Andy Herren, Gries joked, "No one is going to vote for whoever that queer puts up!"
Such remarks eventually led CBS to air disclaimers at the beginning of every episode, insisting the network does not condone such behavior nor do they share the same opinions.
Owens told the LA Times that Gries is definitely not racist even though her language would suggest otherwise. In fact, Gries' date to her senior prom was an African American man.
"[He was] one of her closest friends through high school," Owens explained. "Aaryn's first true love was Cuban American, and she has cousins of Japanese descent who she truly loves. She has never discriminated against anyone for their sexual orientation whether within our family or not. Aaryn truly loves all people equally."
Owens said Gries had recently sponsored a little girl in the Philippines through the Save the Children program.
Gries will "continue to own her mistakes and apologize emphatically to the people she has hurt. I am also confident that Aaryn will learn from any mistakes she has made and use this experience to grow and heal," she added.
However, Owens slammed CBS for spotlighting Gries' remarks in a ploy to increase Big Brother's ratings.
"It appears that it was beneficial for Big Brother to focus on the negative comments made by Aaryn to boost ratings," Owens told the newspaper.
Chen gently reprimanded Gries for her comments during the houseguest's live eviction interview, calling attention to how the slurs could've hurt others and asking whether Gries actually learned anything from her experience on the show. Chen had admitted earlier in the season she was personally offended by the Asian-American jokes.
Gries arguably apologized for insulting anyone or everyone, as she explained she did not intend to be mean or come across racist although she didn't remember making some of her most heavily-criticized jabs.
"Again, I DO NOT condone those inappropriate comments, but I -- and I am sure the entireBig Brother audience -- would have appreciated the show's producers also airing her complete statement acknowledging the mistakes she made and more of her apologies to the Houseguests while still 'in the house,'" Owens told the LA Times.
Gries' mother also apparently believes Chen should've handled the situation more professionally.
"I am disappointed that a woman of Julie Chen's stature would choose to attack Aaryn and influence America to judge the fallacies she seems to have about Aaryn," added Owens.
However, Owens apologized on behalf of her entire family and said she hopes the consequences her daughter is currently facing will serve as a learning experience down the road.
Maybe Gries can one day address her Big Brother experience "and potentially use it to bring light and change to the important subject of racism," Owens said. "It is my hope and prayer that those who have been hurt can find it in their hearts to forgive Aaryn."
A CBS representative reportedly responded to Owens' statement with one of its own: "We believe the show has handled a very difficult situation appropriately, and that Aaryn's comments on the live 24/7 Internet feed and on the broadcast speak for themselves."