An unusual free-speech debate in unfolding in connection with the CBS reality TV show, “Big Brother.” A trio of contestants has made offensive comments during the show’s Internet-only, after-hours programming. In fact, the inappropriate remarks have cost two of the contestants their real-life jobs.
And yet, network executives continue to avoid airing the vast majority of those non-obscene but wholly unsavory comments during the three one-hour episodes of “Big Brother” that air weekly during primetime on CBS affiliates.
In Tuesday’s New York Times, Brian Stelter reported, “This summer, in the show’s 15th iteration, several participants have been overheard making racist, sexist and homophobic comments about others in the house, and in the process they have reignited the oldest debate in reality television: whether the show’s producers are appropriately and fairly depicting real life in their quest to provoke and entertain viewers. Television viewers were seeing an incomplete picture of the participants. On a show with a $500,000 grand prize, perceptions and reputations are important.”
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