Aaryn Gries was unanimously evicted from the Big Brother house last night, and the producers welcomed her with the gift of an entire segment for Julie Chen to confront her on the bigoted things she said and did in the house.
The interview segment was completely fair and justified, but it was also very problematic because CBS and the show’s producers are trying to wipe their dirty hands off on the easiest target.
First, Big Brother should have been doing this for years: holding its cast accountable for their words and behavior–and not just because the look of panic on Aaryn’s face and the booing audience was very satisfying. (Apparently, sarcastic laughter and angry booing from the normally sycophantic audience that cheers everyone doesn’t count as “news or feedback from the outside world.” Will they now boo others, too?)
However, it seems clear that Aaryn is going to continue to be the scapegoat. Perhaps Julie Chen will also grill GinaMarie, and Spencer, and Amanda, and other others in similar ways, but since their comments have not been broadcast, I doubt that. If you need a refresher, here are summaries of the racist, homophobic, and sexist things the cast said on more than one occasion.
In addition, the network and producers have now clearly established a double-standard: some people can say anything and be treated like royalty, while others get shit upon, even if that shitting is deserved.
While it’s absurd for Jeff Schroeder to have sat in the same chair weeks earlier and be held up on a pedestal despite his bigoted comments, it’s unbelievable that, as Julie Chen started her grilling, she said, “you said some pretty harsh things” and “Amanda even tried to warn you.” Amanda?! Of course, Amanda’s awful bigoted comments were excluded from the TV show, on which she was portrayed as a “Social Justice Warrior.”
Aaryn first started with bullshit delivered through a smile: “Being Southern is a stereotype, and I have said some things that have been taken completely out of context.” (Jeff Schroeder tried to claim that his words were all taken out of context, too.)
But as Julie Chen read Aaryn’s comments about Helen (“go make some fucking rice”), she first protested (“I didn’t…”) and looked stricken. “I do not remember saying those things,” she said, and that could easily be true, since it was two months ago. When the audience reacted, Aaryn said, “That was not meant to be serious and if I said those things I feel horrible for that and I regret that and I don’t even know what else to say about that.”
The questions Julie did ask were fine, though she could have been more specific, especially asking Aaryn’s bullying of Candice that prompted the show’s disclaimer. When Julie asked if playing the game taught her anything–and of course, Aaryn has no idea that it has taught her the lesson that her words have consequences, starting with being fired–Aaryn said, “I definitely do. It’s taught me a lot about people and life,” and added, “I love everyone in there.” The studio audience wasn’t buying it, and Aaryn added, “That hurts me that I would say something like that.”
After footage of the other cast members saying goodbye to her aired, Aaryn added, “Honestly, I feel horrible. In Texas, we say things that–sometimes we joke and we don’t mean it, and I really feel bad that this is how it’s being seen and how I’ve come across to people. I don’t want to seem like that person and I really do respect everyone in this game, although we’ve had some really hard times because we’re all fighting for our lives in the game.”
That seemed pretty genuine, even despite her attempt to blame it on Texas. Then again, the show has pretty much blamed all its bigotry on her, so she might as well find her own scapegoat.