Today, we look at just how pointless the complaints over the “reverse racism” of The Cookout on Big Brother were.
This is “Just a Reminder,” a feature where I just point out some stuff, typically in relation to a recent controversy in the world of pop culture.
Earlier this month, I wrote about how The Cookout alliance on this season of the United States’ version of Big Brother was not racist. The barebones explanation is that racism requires in it the inherent superiority of one race. Racism, as a problem in society, is only a problem because of the inherent belief that one race is superior. If all it takes to be “racist” is to treat someone differently because of the color of their skin, then the term would be meaningless, as that’s just life. Treating one race as if is inherently superior? Now if THAT’s racism (and it is, that’s racism), then there’s an actual purpose to the word. Which is lucky, because that actually is the purpose of the word.
Therefore, all-white groups (which Big Brother has had constantly over the years) are different than a group of minorities banding together, like they did this season. In other words, “reverse racism” is nonsense.
The fascinating thing to me, though, since I last wrote that piece, is that The Cookout did, in fact, go all the way and last night, Xavier Prather was unanimously selected as the winner of Big Brother 23, the first African-American winner in the history of the show.
But that’s not the part that fascinates me. What fascinates me is that there were all of these thinkpieces about the “racism” of The Cookout and how bad it was, but in the end, NO ONE CARED.
Julie Chen-Moonves, the host of Big Brother? She told Entertainment Weekly, “I think it’s hard for some people who are not of color to understand the importance of the Cookout making it this far. I have heard some call the formation of the Cookout a form of racism. In my humble opinion, it is not.”
The non-Cookout members of Big Brother’s jury? Also at Entertainment Weekly, they were asked about everything and this was by far the happiest jury I’ve ever seen on Big Brother. NONE OF THEM had a problem with The Cookout or thought that it was “racist.”
Finally, though, what got me to actually write this, is that in the finale of Big Brother 23, America’s Favorite Player was selected. America’s Favorite Player is almost always decided by what we Big Brother fans call “the casuals.” As I’ve noted in the past, why I like Big Brother is because it’s one of the only reality shows were we can see the ACTUAL reality. You can actively see how the broadcast version of the show will try to edit the content to create storylines and narratives. The “casuals,” though, are the fans who only watch the broadcast show and so they ARE impacted by the way that the show edits stuff and the casuals, therefore, are who all of these thinkpieces are pitched at. It’s true that Big Brother itself likely did not trust that the casual audience would understand how The Cookout wasn’t racist and the show definitely downplayed The Cookout for much of the season, only really leaning into it after The Cookout were the only people left in the house.
Well, guess what, the casual fans then voted Tiffany, the “main” mastermind of The Cookout (and then the first person voted out of The Cookout, which is a whole other discussion about intersectionality and how, when The Cookout got down to just its final six, the women were the first to go) as America’s Favorite Player…
I won’t lie, I wasn’t expecting it. The show didn’t give her some amazing edit, but it DID show how much she was gaming, because she WAS. However, what it highlights is that no one cared about all of the hullabaloo about The Cookout. I have explained to you that it is not racist. The show’s host didn’t think it was racist. The non-Black people who got evicted by The Cookout didn’t think it was racist. The casual viewers of the show decided to pick a Cookout member as America’s Favorite Player. This was “Concern trolling” without anyone who was actually concerned about it. It was truly a case of a vocal minority on the internet trying to make something a thing when it was not a thing.
And it’s a great sign for us as a society that it WASN’T a thing.
“Just a Reminder” is a bit less of an audience-participation feature, but hey, feel free to write in with suggestions if you feel like, to firstname.lastname@example.org