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TV or not TV
Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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(The 16 contestants on the current season of "Big Brother," which is enmeshed in controversy over some contestants' racism and homophobia. Courtesy photo)
CBS should be ashamed of "Big Brother"

Well, at least the guy who won "Big Brother" wasn't the worst racist in the house.

But Andy Herren had his moments. He was heard agreeing with anti-Asian comments and calling other contestants "robotic biracials."

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Wish we could see his reaction when he sees other contestants hurling anti-gay slurs in his direction.

Herren will need the $500,000 he won because he's no longer working at his part-time job as a college instructor. The college has issued a statement distancing itself from him.

Runner-up GinaMarie Zimmerman is also in luck because she won $50,000. She was fired from her job as a pageant instructor for using the n-word, among other things.

Spencer Clawson, who finished in third place, still has his job as a train conductor because he's in a union, so Union Pacific couldn't fire him. UP did, however, issue statements distancing itself from Clawson after he made anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic comments, praised Hitler and made a child pornography "joke."

And these three contestants weren't alone. The just-completed season of "Big Brother" was unbelievable because these people didn't seem to realize they were on TV. And it was shocking that the three finalists seemed befuddled when they learned that their racist behavior had made headlines all summer.

Although they didn't really learn much during the show because host Julie Chen didn't confront them with any of their bad behavior - which was both cowardly and just plain bad TV.

I'd like to think that CBS will learn from this experience and do a better job vetting future "Big Brother" contestants. But, as much as the network often seemed embarrassed by what has happening, it also went out of its way to use it to bump up the ratings.

I'd like to think future "Big Brother" contestants will learn from this season and won't repeat the same mistakes, but I doubt that will happen. If you watch reality/competition shows, you see contestants make the same mistakes their predecessors made, season after season.

"Big Brother" has always been suspect. This season, it crossed the line into reprehensible.



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