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'Big Brother' houseguest Howard Overby: The racist behavior was "disheartening," a "bad reality"


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/02/2013 

Big Brother houseguest Howard Overby has offered his personal take on the fifteenth season's racism controversy.

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Overby, who got evicted from the Big Brother house during Thursday night's broadcast, is the first evictee of the season who's actually been a victim of the racial slurs that have made national headlines in recent weeks.

As a black man who was affected and insulted by certain houseguests' offensive remarks -- such as the "n" word and "blacks stick together" -- even if they were not directed at him specifically, Overby found the distasteful behavior "very disheartening," according to Zap2it.

"But I don't respond to any of it. It's disheartening, it's unfortunate, but it's a bad reality. Those are the things that happen when you have a very young cast, an immature cast this year, which also made the game hard to play because you needed more chiefs and less Indians. People were afraid to make a move. The most astonishing things were people who had big mouths for saying disrespectful things, but when it came down to doing stuff that mattered, they were timid in doing so," he told Zap2it in a recent interview.

Overby kept his frustrations quiet in the house although they were boiling inside him, and he admitted keeping his cool and avoiding heated confrontations was extremely difficult at times.

"Yes. It was hard, but I know how I am personally and me, there's ways to defend yourself and defend certain things and had we been in the world, I maybe could've said my piece and walked away, but when you're in a house and enclosed, the probability of it happening again and me going to another level in my response to it, that could've led to anything. I always kept that in mind. But it was hard because it is what it is... I was kind of [expecting it]," Overby explained.

According to Zap2it, houseguests who have been shown making offensive comments about race, gays and/or women on the show's live Internet feeds this season have included Aaryn Gries, GinaMarie Zimmerman, Jeremy McGuire, Spencer Clawson, and Kaitlin Barnaby. Gries has been dubbed the leader of the catty pack and has stood out as the most vocal racist in viewers' eyes, due to Big Brother's decision to include some of her comments on the show's CBS broadcasts.

Overby addressed how homophobic and misogynistic comments made in the house deserve equal focus as the racial slurs. The word "fa--ot" has been thrown out there this season as well as "c--t," and Overby suggested "it's hard not to" call attention to them.

"It makes for good TV, I guess, but the quality is bad. The show and the network, I feel bad for them in that respect. But there's money in the line, people want attention, people want to win money and they're willing to do anything and say anything," he said.

"Unfortunately this year, because of the youthfulness in the game and most of the players, if you'll notice the strong players that want to fight and just battle and play the game, there's more manipulation of the weak and the timid. To manipulate, they'll use every lie."

Zap2it also asked Overby about a recent incident live-feed viewers saw in which he appeared to whisper something to Amanda Zuckerman that upset her and she later claimed was threatening.

"I mean, basically it was nothing. This was after the big thing outside where [Candice Stewart] confronted Spencer. At this point, I'm just carefree in the game... I just saw an opportunity to joke with her... I walked up and I said, 'I love you' and she said, 'What, no you don't?' And I said, 'No, I love you.' With her being brash and she's never been one to be shy about her sexuality, in a joking manner, I whispered, 'I really do love you and outside this house you'd be so hot to me and we could hang out' and that was it," Overby explained.

"That's a joke I felt I could joke with her about because her, Candice and maybe GinaMarie, they're really open about their sexuality and that was basically it. She made more of it because she never really could figure me out because she couldn't control me. I guess she took it as a game ploy... I mean, that's basically what it was. I wouldn't harass anybody."

Zuckerman was apparently telling her fellow houseguests that Overby had said he wanted to "f-ck the sh-t out of her" -- an allegation he completely denied.

"No. No. It wasn't anything to that degree. Basically, I said we could hang out, you're so hot. She had always joked with me in that fashion, even in public around other houseguests... It was said in a joking manner. If she took it as [threatening], I will apologize over and over because I definitely didn't mean it in an offensive manner," he said.

(Photo credit CBS)


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