CBS' summer reality hit Big Brother 10 is in full swing, offering all the drama, backstabbing and manipulation typical of previous BB seasons. Every cast has at least one houseguest you love to hate, and this season, it's surprisingly shaping up to be Ollie, someone who has flown below the radar until his girlfriend April was evicted from the house. The 27-year-old Iowa native is the son of a Pentecostal preacher, and according to his official bio, "To this day, Ollie does not drink, smoke or curse; staying true to the values he was raised with as a child."
For those who watch the live, uncensored 24/7 Internet feed of the show, you know this is not true. On Monday’s live Internet feed, while Ollie was in a heated argument with Memphis, he yelled, "Suck my d*ck, you little f**got!" He then repeated this request three more times (without the anti-gay slur), in an effort to get a rise out of his housemate, but Memphis kept his cool, perhaps knowing that Ollie has used the f-word a number of times in regards to other male cast members in an attempt to emasculate them.
On Big Brother 8, Amber stirred controversy when she spewed anti-Semitic remarks on the live Internet feed, claiming that Jews are not good people and that one can tell who is Jewish "by their last name" and "their nose." The Anti-Defamation League cried foul, calling her remarks "offensive" and that CBS should be held accountable. The ADL issued the following statement:
"What they've done is distributed anti-Semitism -- which started as a private conversation -- and by putting it on a reality TV show broadcast it to the world at large. I want CBS to understand they are facilitating anti-Semitism. They should act responsibly to the community; they are legitimizing bigoted conversation."
The ADL’s response didn’t take into account what is actually a nuanced situation: CBS did not actually air the anti-Semitic tirade, and the network does not censor or tape delay the Internet’s live feed. In response to the incident, CBS, said:
"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. At times, the Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. We certainly find the statements made by Amber Siyavus on the live Internet feed to be offensive and they will not be part of any future broadcast on the CBS Television Network. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a Houseguest appearing on Big Brother 8, either on any live feed from the House or 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."
The 24/7 streaming of Big Brother is available in real time, and unfortunately provides a platform for all things from benign conversations to racist and anti-gay remarks. All words are heard, bigoted or otherwise. To be clear, Ollie's repeated use of the f-word is offensive and inappropriate, and he and his family should be ashamed by his behavior. It was heard uncensored by paid subscribers to the Internet feed, and posted illegally to YouTube where it can now be heard by many. For its part, CBS is doing the right thing by not broadcasting such offensive and hurtful language on the network, and should go a step further and have the video removed from YouTube.
Big Brother thrives on controversy and conflict within the house. It wasn’t that long ago that houseguest "Evel Dick" received tremendous popularity based on his antics. Online subscribers heard him regularly making anti-gay and racist jabs, but again, CBS did not air his remarks on the network.
In the world of Big Brother, much like the world of sports, using offensive insults does not get you ejected from the game, but is as much about strategy as it is about revealing ones own prejudices. In this case, Ollie has hidden behind his faith and so-called family values, but his true self has been revealed to online fans. If there is any karmic justice, he’ll be going home soon and not be rewarded for bad behavior.