'Big Brother' host Julie Chen: Racial and homophobic slurs are relevant now
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/09/2013
Big Brother host Julie Chen has opened up about why CBS finally chose to show some of the racial and homophobic slurs some of the season's houseguests have been making since they entered the Big Brotherhouse during Sunday night's broadcast.
After making no prior acknowledgement of the controversial comments on-air and just releasing a statement condemning such degrading language, Chen says Big Brotheredited the slurs into its most recent broadcast because the network finally deemed such remarks relevant -- especially those made by houseguest Aaryn Gries -- to the season's gameplay.
"I do want to say this. CBS and Big Brother showed it because it is now driving a story. It is now affecting how the other players want to see her gone. If it didn't drive a story and it didn't have a dynamic on like the elements of the game -- you can't just put it in there and say, 'Judge her, everybody!' It has to have to do with the game and the rules of the game," Chen said during Monday afternoon's edition of CBS's The Talk.
"[Aaryn] will have to face consequences. She and the rest of the houseguests have no idea we're discussing this. They have no idea it has made national headlines. They're living in this little bubble. That's part of what this social experiment is called Big Brother."
Chen did not address public criticism that, given the season's new twist in which a "Big Brother MVP" is crowned each week based upon their popularity with home viewers, the previous decision to omit the comments had already been affecting the game by presenting viewers with an inaccurate perception of the houseguests.
Chen continued, "I always say, people come out of that experience -- playing Big Brother is like forcing yourself to look in a mirror [closely]. What I hope is that people who have made anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-anything comments, when they come out and read the headlines, they say to themselves, 'Wow, is that really who I am,' and more so, 'Is that who I want to be?'"
While a few of Gries' fellow houseguests have been shown expressing how they believe the young Texan is a "naive, sheltered raging b-tch" as a result of her dismissive, rude comments, Chen herself admitted she was offended after viewing the footage.
"When I first found out that Aaryn, who is a 22-year-old girl, made anti-gay, anti-black and anti-Asian comments, I have to be honest, the Asian ones hit me the most. I heard about her describing Asians as 'squinty-eyed' and, 'Go make a bowl of rice.' She said that about [Helen Kim], who is Chinese in the house. It stung. I took it personally. I'm a human being," Chen explained.
"The really sad part is it took me back to the 70s when I was growing up in Queens and I was seven-years-old getting bullied and being called a 'chink' and people pulling up their eyes... I thought, 'Wow, I haven't heard comments like that and it's 2013.' Then I felt ignorant, like, 'Wow, there's people who still live in this country and feel that way and act that way?' Yes there is. Yes there is. And afterward, it just made me sad because she's 22 and she's college-educated."
Chen admitted she's previously made jokes about being Asian-American but it's all in good fun whereas hearing Gries make racial comments "felt mean-spirited and it felt ugly and it felt mean."