In this issue of The Confessional, Charlie Jenkins examines a photo released by CBS of the Big Brother 18 cast, with a caption saying, “In order to live in the BB house, you can’t be afraid to reveal yourself—and these HGs definitely weren’t.”
On July 14, to celebrate National Nude Day, CBS and E! Online released a photo of the Big Brother 18 cast wearing nothing but pillows, loin cloths and—in some cases—mounting chairs. Perhaps because the contestants aren’t supposed to talk about production, no clear narrative has emerged about when or how the photo was taken.
Were they really naked behind those pillows or—more likely—were they wearing something more along the lines of a string bikini? Did this take place during casting, prior to the first eviction or just recently? Whose idea was this and what was their thought process?
The article posted on CBS says the ‘group’ posed for this ‘exclusive shot’ in the backyard, implying that everyone was asked to strip down together for a single photo. Then at the bottom of the article it refers to the image as a ‘provocative composite’, suggesting the opposite.
Jozea’s hand seems to be pressing directly onto Zakiyah, while Michelle’s arm appears sandwiched between his elbow and knee. An alternate image shows Bridgette holding the balloons that are in front of Frank’s crotch. But a Reddit user examined the picture with an Image Error Analysis Tool and reported telltale signs of a Photoshop job.
You might raise some valid points in the image’s defense. Most importantly you might point out that Da’Vonne and Nicole are pretty much fully clothed, suggesting that the contestants did have a way to opt out of the nudity for the most part. That’s huge and honestly answers my biggest concern about the picture pretty well.
You could also say that there is nothing inherently dirty about the human body, and there is nothing inherently wrong with being dirty. For what it’s worth, I completely agree with both of those comments. Vanity Fair has shown more on its cover and considered it liberating art. If you found the picture fun to look at, that’s a very normal response, whatever gender or sexuality you may be.
I do feel, though, that the producers are the wrong people to be initiating this.
Why a nude photo of the BB18 cast crosses a line
If some of the contestants put on a show for After Dark and chose to do this, I’d have no objections. Instead, it’s a lot weirder when the nudity is part of the production.
The producers have the contestants under contract and hold the shows’ edit in their hands. I doubt the contestants were allowed to consult with any spouses, kids, parents or employers whose okay would have mattered to them. And I doubt they were able to have their lawyer/agent present, if they even have one.
Less than a week ago the show ran a segment about contestant Frank Eudy’s unwanted behavior towards several of his female competitors. (Read Andy’s synopsis.) I think Frank hopes that people will see that he’s a dumb, playful Labrador and therefore let him act however he wants.
But, Da’Vonne was afraid to tell him how she felt because she was afraid he’d go after her in the game, and now he’s going after her in the game.
The same production team who told that story essentially forced Category 4 to wear pixelated costumes for a week earlier in the season. Michelle expressed discomfort with it at the time. Now they’re putting everyone in a weird situation. Not just the women.
I’d feel weird posing for a picture like this because I don’t have a gym body, and because I’d rather it didn’t come up every time an employer did a Google search. I bet there are a lot of people who would prefer not to do it for their own reasons, including the producers if the shoe were on the other foot. Unlike UnReal’s Season 1 campaign, in which Everlasting’s fictional bosses were shown naked, I don’t see Allison Grodner, Rich Meehan, Les Moonves, and Julie Chen here.
You might argue that the contestants knew what they were signing up for. After all, Caleb and Victoria had been asked to wear Adam and Eve costumes on a previous season. That would once again be a very good point, and I have limited sympathy for contestants who went on the show without doing their homework about it first. Certainly, even the most cursory search would have told them they’d be squirted in the face with cream in an undignified manner.
The final verdict is yours to make. My opinion is that the producers should not ask the contestants to strip down beyond the level of a bathing suit. If the contestants did take this photo as a group it likely put some of them in a traumatic locker room situation. If they stripped down for the producers one-on-one it sounds a bit too much like the casting couch.
Either way, this entire thing seems like one scheme too many by producers who don’t know when to keep their hands out of the cookie jar.