• Wed, Jul 10 2013

That Idiot On Big Brother Thinks Racism Is Okay Because People Call Her ‘Barbie’

Aaryn Gries Big Brother 15 racism Summer 2013I’ve always been of the opinion that reality television shows are one of the greatest anthropological tools at our disposal in the modern age, but even I was unprepared for some of the nuggets coming out of the fifteenth season of Big Brother right now. Yesterday we caught you up on the racism controversy that’s swirling around several members of the cast, and now we have an update for you on one of the ringleaders, current housemate Aaryn Gries.

If you’ll recall, Aaryn is that sparkling gem of a human being who refers to homosexuals as ‘queers’ and seems to particularly enjoy doing impressions of Asian-Americans and telling her Asian housemate to ‘go make some rice’. Very classy. Her behavior as recorded on the twenty-four hour live feeds has been inappropriate enough to actually get her fired from both her jobs at home — one with a magazine, Bella Petite, and another with Zephyr Talent Agency, both of which have issued statements expressing their disapproval of her comments and distancing themselves from her.

Pretty standard racist comment cause and reaction sort of thing, right? EXCEPT. Since Big Brother airs live and the cast is sequestered, there’s no manager or publicist or crisis manager to jump in front of this and tell Aaryn what to say to get herself out of it or lessen the media backlash. So instead we get to watch Aaryn, a confirmed bigot, go about her life in the little reality TV biodome as normal, completely unaware that the nation has turned against her and that she’s lost both of her jobs because of her bigoted views. It’s a golden opportunity to observe an unfettered racist, so grab a bag of popcorn and make the most of it.

[UPDATE: Want to watch the moment Aaryn first hears she lost her job? (Yes. You do.)]

Even though she can’t be contacted by anyone outside the house, Aaryn has been approached by another HouseGuest, Amanda, who tried to save the twenty-two year old from herself, saying:

“I think that you’re joking any time any sort of racial thing comes out of your mouth, I do the same thing. But I think the people that are a different race are taking it offensively. There was a conversation downstairs with Howard, Candice, and Helen and [...] I don’t think that you’re racist at all, but I don’t think that they know that you’re joking. [...] People look for any sort of excuse to villainize you, so just be careful. I want you to know, just so you are more mindful of it.”

Could definitely have been harsher, given Aaryn’s impressively offensive comments, but a step in the right direction, yeah? Aaryn might’ve even responded positively to it if she’d been outside the reality bubble and not surrounded with other enablers like GinaMarie, who’s embroiled in a similar controversy for her use of the words ‘fag’ and ‘nigger’. Here are some things that Aaryn has said in response to her conversation with Amanda:

“I think that is the most immature thing ever. They call me Barbie and all sorts of shit about me being blonde all the time, so what’s the difference? People want to paint an ugly picture of me. Any good thing that I do, people want to turn it like I’m doing it for an ulterior motive. It’s like no good deed goes unpunished in my life. Why is it okay for them to make comments about my attributes and my background and my life, and [Amanda] goes because there’s no history of going against blondes. And I’m like that’s not fair.”

That’s a really good point, Aaryn — the blondes of the world have a long history of persecution in our society for being universally (and inexplicably) perceived as being more beautiful than others, and it’s not fair that you have to shoulder that burden alone without being able to cast slurs at your fellow minorities. Thank you for bringing this vast injustice to national attention. Aaryn also refers to Howard, Helen, and Candice as a ‘minorities alliance’, so it’s definitely safe to say she’s learned her lesson. RIP human decency, viva la behavioral science, and I’ll see you on the live feeds, bigots. Sigh.

(Image: softpedia)

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  • Olivia Wilson

    I think we’re all missing the fact that she thinks that her using offensive language to refer to people is a “good deed”.

    I just…I can’t. I cannot.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Yeah that’s what makes me think she’s insane. She’s twisted it completely around to convince herself that she’s the victim.

  • Jon

    I think a more pressing question no one has asked CBS yet, is if the producers in charge of casting the show knew what they were casting at the time, and did it in the hopes that something like this would draw attention to the show.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I’m assuming they did but that they didn’t know how bad it would get. I’m betting they’ll be a lot more careful about it in the future, though. (Or hoping, at least, because this is really offensive.)

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I know, right? The producers from The Real World used to do that all the time. And openly.

  • boywithbluehanger

    Aaryn is simply ignorant. I’m black and even though I expect everyone in this country to know what’s acceptable speech, there’s a ton of double standards. Hell Julie Chen (the show’s host) was even discussing this on her other show, The Talk, where she claimed that it’s ok to make racial jokes in good fun but not ok to make jokes otherwise. I bet you Aaryn would tell you that she was making the jokes in “good fun” as well. There certainly were people laughing in the house when she told them. So that just goes to show you that it’s only alright depending on the scenario. And by that I mean, it depends entirely on how your audience perceives it. If your audience are millions of the television viewing public, chances are you’ll be perceived as a racist. Even if you’re not and were just telling a joke.

    The real price of ignorance in this case, is being judged. She made her bed and will lie in it once she’s either evicted or wins 1st/2nd place prize.

    By the way, I’m not sure if you’ve been blogging about BB all this time but it’s my favorite show in the world, so I hope you continue to!

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      We don’t usually follow it in depth, but we’ll try to continue our coverage!

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  • JoshSD

    My first reaction was, “You have got to be kidding me! She is a horrible person.” But then I started thinking. She probably honestly thinks they are just jokes. If you are a blond that might not be the brightest bulb on the tree, like she is, I am sure being called barbie or Blondie might hurt a little too, but she clearly doesn’t grasp the historical issues that make it different. I guess, not that this is an excuse, she is only 22. This might be a real growing experience for her.

    I am going to withhold judgement for a bit. I say, give her another chance. If she corrects her behavior, she may have just had a very sheltered 22 years.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I would never have said stuff like that when I was 22 or 19 or even 16, and I’m blond AND grew up in a very non-diverse area in Portland, Oregon. So I’m not super-inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    • JoshSD

      Yeah, but Portland is very different than Texas on the norms and what is taught to be acceptable. I would say that, being from South Dakota, at 22 I knew better, but at 16, I probably didn’t.

    • Marian Dreaver

      I am 22 and am completely aware that the insults or teasing that are aimed at individuals is different to that faced by oppressed groups. Aaryn age is no excuse.

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