On Thursday night, the CBS game show Big Brother will be addressing an incident that happened on a Paramount+ live feed: Contestant Luke Valentine used the n-word while chatting with other players, laughed, and then corrected himself using the word "dude" instead. He said on the feed, "I’m in the f**king cheese room, n---a.”
He was dismissed from the show after fans and past contestants called for his removal.
As People points out, recent seasons have been marred with racial incidents that led to other contestants being forced to leave the show. In fact, it's happened so many times during the show's 25(!) seasons that it prompted Daily Beast writer Justin Kirkland to compose an entire piece about the phenomenon with a story whose headline reads, in part, "Why Can’t ‘Big Brother’ Contestants Stop Being So Racist?"
Kirkland asks, "How, in the name of Julie Chen-Moonves, do these people continue to run into a bar that is set so incredibly low?" The 24/7 nature of the show could be part of the issue; contestants are always watched by audience members—even if they're not actively participating in a live event feed.
10 years ago, Kirkland points out, Big Brother hit a nadir with a season in which "a handful of housemates … berated Black, Asian, and LGBTQ+ contestants." Since then, the show pledged to diversify its cast (50 percent would be Black, indigenous, or POC), but it hasn't stopped racist outbursts from being a regular part of the programming.
A statement from CBS and the show's producers on the latest incident says the following: “Luke violated the BIG BROTHER code of conduct and there is zero tolerance in the house for using a racial slur. He has been removed from the house."
The big takeaway regarding Big Brother might be, if these are the types of contestants that make it onto the show—white people who can casually throw around the n-word like it's no big deal—why are people still watching?