CBS Response to Big Brother Incident is Inadequate
No one expects the housemates on CBS' Big Brother to be paragons of sensitivity or respect, but three-time CBS reality contestant Jeff Schroeder has made headlines for yet another revolting anti-gay rant, which begs the question, "Why does CBS keep bringing him back?" This is a question GLAAD wants answered, and so far the answer hasn't been satisfactory.
This most recent incident occurred on the show's live internet feed last night, in which Schroeder got into an argument with fellow housemate Kalia Booker about Harry Potter. The argument started after Kalia (correctly) stated that author J.K. Rowling had originally conceived of the character of Dumbledore as gay, which set off the following exchange:
Jeff : "Who's Dumbledorf.. who is that, the big guy?"
Rachel: "Why would she want a gay character?"
Jeff (in the background): "That would be perverted!"
Kalia explains that she made the character so that her kids and other kids would understand [being gay].
Jeff: "How is he meant to be gay? He doesn't have any gay tendencies..."
Kalia (interrupts): "Maybe that's the point! So that people like you don't stereotype gay people".
Jeff: "WHAT DO YOU mean stereotypes around gay people? He's in a school with little kids, you can't make THAT GUY GAY!"
Kalia: "WHY? Gay men can't work with little kids!?"
Jeff: "It isn't right to have it in a little kids book, and have the head master locked away in this magical land, be gay. That isn't the right kind of writing to do."
Kalia: "I don't see why not!"
Jeff: "Oh I can see your PC view of it, but it's not the right thing to do."
Kalia: "WHY is it PC?"
Jeff: "Listen, you know what I'm talking about and don't make it seem like your doing the right thing by saying it's not! You are going to let your kids read a story book where little kids go to fantasy camp without their parents and the guy is GAY?"
Kalia: "Just because he is gay, doesn't mean there is a thing wrong with him!"
Jeff: "GTFO! Don't start with that f'in *****!" ( Kalia is trying to defend herself, Jeff is yelling louder) Don't tell me the right answer for f'n T.V.!..."
We reached out to CBS about both incident and their repeated use of Schroeder, and a representative informed GLAAD that the exchange would not be included on the show's televised broadcast, saying the producers did not find it useful for creating a larger narrative. The video can still be found on TMZ among other places.
CBS has also provided GLAAD with a statement in regard to the incident:
"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 make comments, reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a Houseguest appearing on BIG BROTHER, 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."
Needless to say, this still doesn't address the main problem.
This is by no means the first time Schroeder has delivered a homophobic tirade on Big Brother, however. Back in 2009 during the show's 11th season, Schroeder was caught on camera repeatedly calling housemates he was in fights with anti-gay slurs, including "homos" and the f-word.
So what did CBS do to wash their hands of the openly anti-gay reality star? They made him a contestant on season 16 of The Amazing Race, and followed that by featuring him on the CBS web series Around the World for Free in 2010. Now they've brought him back a third time for another chance to win Big Brother.
Schroeder was one of a number of past Big Brother contestants brought back to the show, seemingly because it was expected they would stir up drama. But given his already proven track record, CBS must have expected that he would also be bringing openly anti-gay attitudes back with him. Is this the kind of drama they were hoping to see unfold? Is this the type of person they want associated with both the CBS and Big Brother brands?
GLAAD had the opportunity to meet with CBS in June to discuss their already shaky track record on LGBT representation on their scripted programming. During that meeting, the network expressed their previously stated intention to improve their programming in this regard, and they can certainly demonstrate that intention by never including Jeff Schroeder on another of their reality programs.
Those interested in expressing similar sentiments to CBS can do so by emailing the network at firstname.lastname@example.org, and letting them know that anti-gay rants do not qualify as "good tv."