The latest episode of “Big Brother” has addressed the removal of contestant Luke Valentine following his use of the N-word during a Paramount+ live feed. This controversy unfolded just one week into the start of Season 25.
Valentine used the racial slur during a casual conversation with other contestants Jared Fields, Cory Wurtenberger and Hisam Goueli. After dropping the slur at the end of a sentence, he seemed immediately aware of his on-camera faux pas. He covered his mouth, laughed and quickly said “dude” instead, while his fellow contestants stared at him. The moment can be watched here.
During the new episode, Valentine is called to the diary room after using the slur. The next morning, contestant Reilly Smedley delivers the news aloud to her fellow houseguests: “Due to violating the ‘Big Brother’ code of conduct by using a racial slur, Luke has been removed from the house and will no longer be participating in the ‘Big Brother’ game. The game goes on and the live vote and eviction will continue as scheduled.” The shocked contestants then unpacked the news together.
“It was directed toward me in a very casual, using it between friends kind of way, and I think the reaction was, ‘Yo, you gotta go to bed man,’” Wurtenberger said. “I walked out like, ‘Did I just hear that?’” Goueli then said that he had not heard the slur.
Fields then chimed in, “Listen, I respect exactly what you’re saying Cory, but considering what the situation was, it’s not fair, I think, to try to have this as a family convo.”
“I’ve had friends like Luke in the past,” Fields continued in a confessional. “It’s really weird to try to have that conversation, that’s why I didn’t tell anybody. I don’t associate ignorance with malice. Whether Luke meant it in that way or not, it was rules and regulations and we were told them clearly before walking into this house. I completely understand the decision, and I also understand there’s consequences to every action you make. It’s just hard trying to help people understand where you’re coming from, especially being the only Black male in this house. With that being said, Luke I hope you the best bro, and I really hope it was a learning situation for you.”
Valentine’s use of such charged language quickly caused a stir online, with fans taking to social media to comment on how the show should address it. Many called for his immediate removal from the reality show. Indeed, CBS did just that, and it was announced on Wednesday that he would no longer be a contestant on the show.
CBS addressed his removal in a statement to Variety. “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 network said. CBS went on to say that the show would address Luke’s removal on today’s episode.
Valentine’s use of the N-word and his subsequent removal is significant in light of “Big Brother”‘s history with problematic contestants. During Season 22, Memphis Garrett was accused of calling David Alexander the N-word. An investigation was launched and CBS concluded that Garrett did not call Alexander the N-word, and the footage was removed. Additionally, Kyle Carpenter, who was on the last season of “Big Brother,” was removed because of comments he made about race. Fans were also upset that Taylor Hale, a Black contestant on Season 24, dealt with microaggressions during her time on the show.
Speaking with Variety, the show’s executive producers’ have adamantly denied claims that they intentionally cast problematic people for the sake of entertainment.
“That’s definitely 1,000% not true,” Rich Meehan said. “But we do cast a wide net of people from all different walks of life, all different upbringings, so sometimes you do get surprised along the way.”
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