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What in the Jim Crow is Going On With Big Brother’s Camp Comeback Room?


Did anyone in Big Brother 21 production think about the optics of possibly having a room separate from the rest of the house filled only with people of color? It’s happening before our very eyes this season, and it’s only week 2.

It’s always a given that something racist will go down on the show. It’s inevitable and expected, since it’s billed and cast as a microcosm of America. What’s different about this season is the Camp Comeback twist, which is a way to keep evicted houseguests in the house, but separate from the rest of the cast in their own room. They will eventually compete to come back (hence the name) and are allowed to eat, hang out and continue their social game in the main part of the house, but they can not participate in competitions or vote, and must lay their heads in that separate room filled with stank décor, trash and old dirty mattresses instead of beds.

Again…because racism exists in America, its presence in the Big Brother cast is almost assured. It’s a matter of who and when, not if. I, for one, believe America needs to see it and be reminded of the different ways in which it manifests, for those who swear it’s no longer a thing. (I just wish the show would deal with it openly instead of always editing around it … like the live feeds don’t exist and fans don’t already know from social media, YouTube and news reports. More on this in a moment.)

Jack (L) and Jackson of Big Brother 21

 

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the producers are optimists and genuinely shocked every time any of their carefully chosen cast members start to present as racist. Is it too much to expect them to think Camp Comeback through to its worst case scenario of black and brown folk being kicked out first, and how their segregation in this kind of room would look on camera?

I don’t know if this season is the most racist of the 21 so far, but it’s certainly the quickest to be revealed. Again – it’s only week two, and so far Jack and Jackson (the Jack-asses who are calling all the shots), have targeted with inexplicable and unwarranted vitriol all the people of color in the house. David – the season’s lone African American man who was banished on the first episode after losing a competition, then brought back into the house Wednesday via Camp Comeback – has appears to have been called the N-word behind his back by both Jack-asses. Watch below and make your own conclusion. To me, it sounds like Jackson (the Beavis one) said, “He’s a n**ger” at the 13 second mark. Jack (the Dothraki) replies two seconds later: “I won’t f**k with a n**ger, bro.”

 

Jack is currently Head of Household and has nominated two of the season’s three women of color for eviction to join David and Ovi (of Bangladeshi descent) in Camp Comeback. Jack has already expressed wanting to “stomp a mudhole” into the chest of Kemi, the African American woman he put on the block.

— [SMEG] #BB21 (@girlsmeg) July 1, 2019

Jack has also said he wants to mule-kick David in the teeth. In another instance, he imitated David’s walk by appearing to mimic a monkey.

According to BB recap site Hamsterwatch.com, “Kat had said David ‘terrified’ her, Holly said ‘he’s 100% the villain,’ and Jackson called him ‘cancer of the house’ (which he’d also called Kemi), and complained to Kat that David was ‘disrespectful.'” Even Cliff, the token old guy in the house, referred to David as “aggressive.”

Mind you, David was in the house for a split second before he was banished on the first episode. No one has had time to get to know him enough for this kind of criticism. Also, there is no video proof of this alleged “aggressive,” “disrespectful,” “cancerous” behavior, because the BB stans who watch the live feeds would’ve had it tweeted and posted on YouTube within seconds of it happening. So we all know what’s really going on here.

Meanwhile, the Camp Comeback room has already been referred to as “Mexico” by white houseguests. The phrase “Go back to Mexico” was said in reference to David behind his back. Jack referred to his other eviction nominee, Puerto Rican plus-sized model Jessica, as “Consuela,” and Holly wasn’t sure if the Camp Comeback banishees were supposed to be “slaves” for the main house.

Early last week, Jackson was heard talking to another housemate about production scolding him for his language. Actually, both Jack-asses were called into the diary room and reprimanded, but their N-word comments and Jack’s monkey walk came after their talking to, and this is no different than any other season. Racist things happen, the perpetrators are lectured on it by production, the offensive behavior continues, and no one ever holds them accountable. If that’s not a microcosm of America (especially these last three years) I don’t know what is.

Big Brother 21 cast

 

Back to my original point – two people of color are already in the segregated room, and if the Jack-asses have their way, two more will end up there with the next two evictions. Producers will likely argue that they couldn’t have known it would go down like this. Now that it is happening, yet again, will they address it? I’m calling on Allison Grodner to be bold and use one of the CBS broadcasts to address all of it, full stop. Or have Julie Chen Moonves host a post-season CBS special where the entire BB21 cast sits down to discuss the season, kind of like a Bravo/VH1 reunion show, where they are forced to watch their racist comments alongside the people who were on the receiving end. I bet the slurs would screech to a halt in future seasons if the houseguests feared having to explain themselves on a reunion show. If it’s ratings you ultimately want, this type of public accountability episode would likely be the most watched of the season.

Or… have a prime time special with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King moderating a panel featuring Grodner and past houseguests of color who have had to deal with racism on the show. Allegedly, even from the producers.

In the prime time show, you could explain your casting procedures. Do you ask about race during the vetting process? If so, what in particular? Should there be a “no tolerance” policy instituted? Tell the truth about the show’s red line when it comes to racist behavior, because there doesn’t seem to be one. In other words, be as open and transparent as you want your houseguests to be.

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