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CBS actually ejected a Big Brother houseguest for using a racial slur (updated)

CBS actually ejected a Big Brother houseguest for using a racial slur (updated)
Luke Valentine was ejected from Big Brother 25 for using a racial slur in casual conversation (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS

There have been so many racial slurs uttered in the Big Brother house and broadcast on the live feeds over its 25-season, 23-year life that it’s hard to keep track. There was an avalanche of them in season 15.

Three years ago, when feed watchers suspected a season 22 cast member used a racial slur, CBS analyzed the audio and said he did not. However, the network promised this:

“Hate speech will not be tolerated, and those who violate the policy will be removed from the Big Brother House.”

That was certainly a change from the past. Is that rule still in effect? The answer, surprisingly, is yes, as a Big Brother 25 cast member found out today.

A person in a pink bathing suit sitting on a pool chair
Luke Valentine in one of the Big Brother 25 cast swimsuit photos (Photo by CBS)

Big Brother 25 player Luke Valentine, a 30-year-old illustrator from Florida, casually used the worst slur in a conversation with Cory, Hisam, and Jared.

“We were in the fucking cheese room, [n-word],” he says, and then giggles and says “oops.” He then continues: “Anyways, we were in the fucking cheese room. I’m sorry.”

Watch a clip here. The casual way he says the word and then laughs about it is revealing. As I wrote on Twitter, he’s acting like he just farted, not used racist language.

That happened early this morning, in the 1 a.m. PT hour, and as usual, the producers cut the live feed, trying to censor what had just been broadcast.

Would they actually remove him from the house? That was a question because, despite the rule, the producers’ and CBS’s track record has not been good. Violent comments directed at a Black woman only resulted in a warning, for example.

The words Big Brother formed out of two sides of a rectangular shape; there's a colorful background and the words CBS Original on the house-like structure

Generally, the show’s response has been to cover up racist and homophobic language and behavior. That’s the opposite of Big Brother UK, which, since a contestant used a racial slur in the fifth celebrity season five back in 2007, has had a zero-tolerance policy toward abusive or hateful language.

Luke has indeed been ejected.

As of around 11:30 a.m. PT Wednesday, the live feeds switched to a feed of adoptable animals. Hamsterwatch reports that this is “probably to inform the rest of them that Luke’s been kicked out, get his stuff packed, etc.. no way to know how long this will be – in the past, ejections weren’t known to us before the house, so they were lengthy blocks but this is different.”

Reporter Sharon Tharp shared this statement from CBS:

“Luke violated the BIG BROTHER code of conduct and there is zero tolerance in the house for using a racial slur. He has been removed from the house. His departure will be addressed in Thursday night’s show.”

Of course, it remains to be seen how this will be handled on CBS’s television show. Will that scene be shown? Will the conversation with Luke telling him he’s being ejected from the game be broadcast? Will Julie Chen Moonves talk with him or the other houseguests?

What is clear today is that CBS and Big Brother’s producers have, at long last, done the right thing.

How Luke’s explusion was handled on Big Brother 25

Update, Aug. 10 at 9:20 p.m. ET.

The BB25 live feeds, including the new free Pluto feeds, were down for more than a day after Luke’s expulsion.

But as Big Brother 25’s fourth episode—its first live eviction—premiered at 9 p.m. ET, there was no sign that anything was amiss. Julie Chen Moonves talked about the multiverse nonsense; the over-eager narrator shouted about all the drama that wasn’t casual racist language.

The live studio audience cheered the cheers it would cheer regardless of what happens in front of them.

“What else does the BB multiverse have in store for everyone tonight?” Julie asked. Her first “but first” was about alliances.

After a break, Julie said, “It’s been an emotional 24 hours in the Big Brother house as the houseguests learned that one of their own broke the Big Brother code of conduct and was removed from the game.”

We cut to Kirsten lamenting being on the block, including in a conversation with Luke. Then they showed the conversation in which Luke dropped the word. The audio dropped out and his mouth was blurred, but the producers/network kept in his giggle and “oops.”

The footage continued, with Luke telling Jared, “He got more mad about that than you.” Luke was basically trying to get Jared, a Black man, to commiserate with him about using a racial slur.

“I’m in trouble now,” Luke said at the end of the conversation. Later, he got called to the Diary Room, but we did not see that footage.

Instead, the producers communicated via a card Reilly read to the house:

“Houseguests, due to violating the Big Brother code of conduct by using a racial slur, Luke has been removed from the house and will no longer be participating in the Big Brother game. The game goes on and the live vote and eviction will continue as scheduled.”

After Cory told everyone what happened, Hisam said he didn’t hear the word. Cory said he thought it was used in “a very casual, used-between-friends sort of way.” Jared said, “it’s not fair to try to have this as a family convo,” and after hearing him in the Diary Room briefly, that was the end of that.

For the low bar Big Brother has set, I think they handled this well, especially in showing how casual Luke said the word, and how he thought it was funny. I would have liked to see more conversation in the house about it, but giving Jared the focus—since he was in the room, and like he said, is the only Black man in the house—makes sense. So does not giving Luke’s casual racist language a disproportionate amount of attention.

Luke said the word, broke a clear rule, and was forced to leave the game. That’s the way it should be.

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Happy discussing!

Joe

Monday 14th of August 2023

This is why old school big brother and survivor will always be better than anything. For crying out loud go back and watch bb6 and apply that same "code of conduct" to that house and let me know how many are left by the end of the show

Bad Mitten

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

@Joe, You think old school big brother and survivor are better because they didn't kick people out for saying slurs? That's some backwards logic there

Cat

Saturday 12th of August 2023

Kirsten said the same thing Sunday in a convo with Jared.

Jay

Friday 11th of August 2023

To Jared’s point, I find it hilarious that the person most offended and wanting to continue to stir the pot by by bringing more attention to the issue was, a white person (Cory). My hat is entirely off for Jared. Jared handled the incident maturely and with class, not jumping to judgement. While surely his use of the word is inappropriate in this setting and against rules, these are humans we pull from the public, who aren’t perfect. Jumping immediately to taking personal offense on a situation not meant to be offensive should be rationalized.

Melissa

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

I am shocked!!! So, racial slurs have been acceptable up until 2023. Good to know.