CBS has released a disclaimer saying that Big Brother 13 housemate Jeff Schroeder’s anti-gay rant concerning Harry Potter character Dubmledore being gay in no way reflects the view of the station, but gay rights group GLAAD says this is not enough.
Schroeder’s anti-gay, anti-Dumbledore (almost as bad) rant aired this week and went a little something like this (as posted on GLAAD’s website):
Jeff says “Who’s Dumbledorf… who is that, the big guy?”… Rachel then says “why would she want a gay character?” while Jeff in the background says “That would be perverted!” Kalia explains that she made the character so that her kids and other kids would understand [being gay].
Jeff says “how is he meant to be gay? he doesn’t have any gay tendencies…” Kalia interrupts and says “maybe that’s the point! so that people like you don’t stereotype gay people.”
Jeff says “WHAT DO YOU mean stereotypes around gay people? He’s in a school with little kids, you can’t make THAT GUY GAY!”
Kalia squealed “WHYYYY? Gay men can’t work with little kids!?”
Jeff says “it isn’t right to have it in a little kids book, and have the head master locked away in this magical land, be gay. That isn’t the right kind of writing to do.”
Kalia doesn’t see anything wrong with it. “I don’t see why not!”
Jeff says “Oh I can see your PC view of it, but it’s not the right thing to do…” she asks him “WHY is it PC?”
Jeff says to her “Listen, you know what I’m talking about and don’t make it seem like your doing the right thing by saying it’s not! You are going to let your kids read a story book where little kids go to fantasy camp without their parents and the guy is GAY?”
Kalia: “Just because he is gay, doesn’t mean there is a thing wrong with him!”
Jeff: “GTFO! Don’t start with that f’in *****!” While Kalia is trying to defend herself, Jeff is yelling louder “Don’t tell me the right answer for f’n T.V.!…”
The hilariously ignorant “That isn’t the right kind of writing to do” comment aside, GLAAD asked CBS to take action over these statements, citing that it’s not the first time Jeff Schroeder has homophobic remarks.
CBS issued the following response:
“BIG BROTHER is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7 — and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the Houseguests make comments, reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a Houseguest appearing on BIG BROTHER, either on any live feed from the House or the broadcast, are those of the individual(s) speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS or the producers of the program.”
However GLAAD is saying that this response is inadequate because CBS knew about Shroeder’s past anti-gay comments from the 2009 addition of the show and brought him back anyway. This isn’t a free speech issue, says GLAAD, but rather an issue of CBS appearing to be milking Shroeder’s anti-gay outbursts in order to generate viewing figures.
So what did CBS do to wash their hands of the openly anti-gay reality star? They made him a contestant on season 16 of The Amazing Race, and followed that by featuring him on the CBS web series Around the World for Free in 2010. Now they’ve brought him back a third time for another chance to win Big Brother.
Schroeder was one of a number of past Big Brother contestants brought back to the show, seemingly because it was expected they would stir up drama. But given his already proven track record, CBS must have expected that he would be bringing his openly anti-gay attitudes back with him. Is this the kind of drama they were hoping to see unfold? Is this the type of person they want associated with both the CBS and Big Brother brands?
GLAAD had the opportunity to meet with CBS in June to discuss their already shaky track record in regard to LGBT representation on their scripted programming. During that meeting, the network expressed their previously stated intention to improve their programming in this regard, and they can certainly demonstrate that intention by never including Jeff Schroeder on another of their reality programs.
I must confess that, at first, I did think this was an overreaction on GLAAD’s part, but having been shown CBS’ apparent desire to cast Schroeder in every reality show they can, I have to say I think the concern is justified: CBS might not condone what Schroeder is saying but they certainly seem content to let him keep saying it — so long as they get good ratings, of course.
That isn’t right, especially when a good chunk of the viewing demographic for Big Brother will be teenagers who are hearing Schroeder making comments that a character being gay precludes him from working with children, as though it is a disease the children might catch, or worse, that he may have more sinister intentions. If this was an isolated incident I would agree, disclaimer it and let it pass, but that is not the case.
GLAAD points out that if concerned, a reader might like to email CBS at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to let them know that using homophobia for viewing figures doesn’t make for good television.