I’ve written twice about Big Brother‘s hateful Aaryn Gries. (Read The Devil is Blonde: Aaryn is Pure Evil and CBS and Julie Chen Start to Reveal Aaryn’s True Colors). I didn’t know that her words or actions could get worse than what we’ve witnessed in the last two weeks.
And then, as displayed on Sunday night’s televised episode, they did. They got worse. She flipped Candice’s bed. She mocked her with racial slurs. She denied making racist comments, and then made an “apology” so lacking in sincerity it was almost laughable. Her actions were so offensive, in fact, that CBS felt compelled to put a disclaimer before the episode, warning that “viewer discretion was advised.”
Amidst this sorry display of human behavior, though, has appeared a shining light — Howard Overby.
Howard, a 29-year old African-American youth counselor from Mississippi, has proven himself to be of outstanding character. Like several of his fellow houseguests and most of the people who watch Big Brother, he is horrified and offended by the things that Aaryn has said and done. Unlike bloggers like myself, however, who can rail against Aaryn without fear of recrimination, he is in an almost impossibly difficult position, in that standing up against the mean girl might negatively impact his standing in the house, and his chances at winning the $500K. But he has found his own ways, through the use of his patience, communication skills and his faith, to quietly make an impact.
When Candice was in the midst of fighting with Aaryn and GinaMarie after the bed-flipping incident, Howard literally carried Candice out of the room. He wasn’t trying to pretend that what happened was acceptable — he was trying to protect her. It was an act that had nothing to do with the game of Big Brother, and everything to do with the game of Big Brother. As he said, “That’s the only button they’ve got to push…please be bigger with me. It’s a game, we’re going to play a game.”
Though Candice reminded him this was an individual game and he had no obligation to her, he disagreed, saying he was on her side. “You’re not being weak if you let them have it,” he told Candice. “The only person I honestly have to defend is you and Helen. Because I fit in the same minority y’all are.” As he declared in the Diary Room, “When I see her cry, that’s my mother crying, that’s my sister crying.”
This is personal for Howard. He wants to fight, he wants to yell, but he knows what he’s there for, and he knows he’s playing a social game. He’s conflicted, but he’s doing what he has to do so that he, and Candice, can rise above the hatred in the best possible way — by outlasting the perpetrators. “Being bigger” is not easy. It takes a big, smart, strong man to be able to observe, “All she wants to do is stand up for what is right. Unfortunately we’re not playing a game where you can do that.” Howard is that man.
After finding himself on a team in the Have/Have-Not competition with Aaryn, GinaMarie and Kaitlyn, Howard also tried to take a stand by throwing the competition. Due to McCrae’s sheer ineptitude he was unable to do so, but still, the fact that he was willing to sacrifice his own comfort in order to ensure the most entitled houseguest were deprived this week speaks volumes about his character.
Now, Howard is no saint, nor should he be — this is Big Brother, after all. After all, in the very same episode he lied straight to Helen’s face when she asked him whether or not there had been an all-guy alliance. But that actually makes me like him even more — he’s not so delusional as to think honesty and goodliness are the only virtues in a game like this one.
Whether he takes home the big prize at the end of the summer or not, Howard has shown he is much more of a winner than Aaryn or any of her hateful crew. A low bar, to be sure, but for that I salute him.
READ: “People Hate People Who Are Cute” — Aaryn’s Most Ridiculous Quotes From Episode 10 of Big Brother
READ: CBS and Julie Chen Starting to Show Aaryn’s True Colors — Is It Enough?
READ: The Devil is Blonde: Big Brother‘s Aaryn is Pure Evil
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