Julie Chen Talks About Racist 'Big Brother' Comments, but Makes a Major Mistake

‘The Talk’ Host Says Asian Comments Hurt Her, but Slips Up When Referring to an Asian Houseguest

Yahoo Contributor Network

She's the host of "The Talk," so it was only a matter of time before Julie Chen would "talk" about the racist comments being spewed on her other CBS show, "Big Brother."

On Monday's show, Chen addressed contestant Aaryn Gries' use of racist and homophobic slurs, which were caught on the show's 24-hour live feeds, and later aired on the televised show as part of a montage segment. Gries' mean-spirited comments included making fun of an Asian contestant by telling her to "go make some rice," as well as mocking Asian nail salon workers.

On Monday's edition of her daytime talk show, Chen said, "When I first found out that Aaryn, who is a 22-year-old girl, made anti-gay, anti-black and anti-Asian comments, I have to be honest, the Asian ones hit me the most. I heard about her describing Asians as 'squinty-eyed' and 'go make a bowl of rice.' She said that about Helen, who is Chinese and in the house. It stung. I took it personally. I'm a human being. It took me back to the '70s when I was growing up in Queens and I was 7-years-old getting bullied, being called a chink … I thought to myself, 'Wow, I haven't heard comments like that [in years].' The year is 2013 ... There are still people in the country who feel and act that way? Yes there is. Yes there is. It just made me sad, because she's 22 and she's college-educated."

"Talk" co-host Sharon Osbourne called the whole thing "terrifying" and said she thinks Gries is "very troubled."

But amidst all of the "Big Brother" talk, Chen made a significant faux pas during her spiel on "The Talk." She referred to Korean-American contestant Helen Kim as "Chinese," prompting "Big Brother" Season 4 winner Jun Song to tweet: "Oh good lord. Julie Chen thinks Helen Kim is Chinese. I give up. Evil wins. #BB15."

Song later tweeted, "I hate that Julie Chen didn't think to confirm that Helen Kim is Korean and not Chinese, but I love this dialogue about race."

One of Song's Twitter followers, @captain_kirk 87 wrote, "That's the irony isn't? In discussing ignorance she proved ignorant herself. #shameful."

While Chen's faux pas was either an honest mistake, or the result of poor fact checking, ignorance has been a big part of this summer's edition of the long-running reality show.

Meanwhile, Aaryn Gries and fellow contestant GinaMarie Zimmerman have been fired from their real-life jobs in the aftermath of the slur scandal. Because they are sequestered in the "Big Brother" house, none of the contestants are aware that their actions have made national headlines or that they've been fired.

Interestingly, Gries is also this week's "Big Brother" Head of Household. That means on Thursday night's live show, she'll be interviewed by Julie Chen behind closed doors. Oh, to be a fly on that wall. (Oh, wait we are! This is "Big Brother," after all.) Of course, the must-see TV will really take place the night Gries is evicted from the "Big Brother" house, which should be soon. That's when Chen can fill her in on what's been going on in the outside world.

"[Aaryn] will have to face consequences," Chen told her "Talk" audience. "She and the rest of the house guests have no idea we're discussing this, they have no idea it's made national headlines. What I hope is that people who have made anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-anything comments, when they come out and they read the headlines, that they say to themselves, 'Wow, is that really who I am? And wow, is that really who I want to continue to be?'"

"Big Brother" airs on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on CBS.

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