The most anticipated event of the current edition of “Big Brother” took place Thursday -- and it wasn’t even the finale.
Aaryn Gries, the 22-year-old houseguest from Texas who has sparked high ratings and a furor among viewers and fans of the CBS reality show after making several derogatory remarks about African American, Asian American and gay members of the house, was evicted by her fellow houseguests Thursday.
Those slurs set off racial tensions inside the “Big Brother” house. And the first person she saw when she departed the house was host Julie Chen, who has lashed out against Gries, saying she was personally hurt and offended by the remarks.
Their exit interview, conducted in front of a live audience that reacted to Gries with derisive jeers and laughter, was alternately awkward and tense: The college student was initially defensive when Chen began asking her about some of her comments made during the show’s live Internet feed.
“Being Southern is a stereotype, and I have said some things that have been taken completely out of context,” Gries said. “I do not mean ever to come off racist -- that’s not me, and I apologize to everyone I’ve offended for that.”
At another point, “I do not remember saying those things,” Gries said as the audience hooted.
But as Chen continued to press her about the slurs, which were first revealed on the show’s 24-hour live webstream, Gries, clearly caught off guard, became more dismayed and less defiant.
Chen read back some of the remarks attributed to Gries, who early in the show’s run said to one black houseguest, “Be careful what you say in the dark, might not get to see the bitch.” Gries also chastised an Asian American contestant, saying, “Shut up and go make some rice,” and she made a homophobic slur against another houseguest.
“I feel horrible,” Gries said, her eyes at one point appearing to well up. “In Texas, we say things that ... sometimes we joke and we don’t mean it. And I really feel bad that this is how it’s being seen and how I’ve come across to people. I don’t want to be seen like that.”
The departure took place during the show’s regular live weekly installment when members of the house vote to kick out one of two houseguests up for eviction. Gries was voted out unanimously.
Gries, a college student who lives in San Angelo, Texas, had been the most notorious houseguest this summer. She has already lost her job at a modeling agency as a result of the remarks, and her mother several weeks ago hired a publicist to deal with the fallout from the comments.
CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, who is married to Chen, recently said he found the comment by Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman, another houseguest who is still in the house, “absolutely appalling.”
Gries and the other houseguests are isolated in the house and shielded from the outside world, so they have no idea of the brewing controversy regarding the racial tensions in the house.
And because Griese will be part of the jury that will determine the winner who scores the grand prize, Chen told the audience that the recent evictee would continue to be isolated in another location and not told about the fallout.
Chen told Gries that when she got home, she would get to review a lot of the video from the show: “I hope, and think you might have a new perspective on things.”