INTO THE NEXT STAGE: James Evicted from ‘Big Brother’; Ratings Plummet



On this season of CBS’s “Big Brother,” “double eviction night” has had horrible consequences for players not in the dominant alliance. The last one, which aired Thursday, Sept. 3, ended the hopes of the “Asian hillbilly,” James Huling.

For those who haven’t watched this reality competition on a regular basis, let me explain: In the span of a week, one of the house guests is crowned “Head of Household” (HOH), who has to nominate two people for eviction. They — along with four others chosen by lottery — then compete for the “Power of Veto” (POV), which enables the winner to take someone off the block — forcing the HOH to put up someone else instead — or keep them there. Then the rest of the house votes for who they want to send packing.

Throughout all of this, there’s time for contestants to lobby, make new alliances with those in power for the week, strike deals, reconcile, and/or become enemies, all of which affect the final vote. “Double eviction” means after the first regular eviction, those week-long procedures are played out within a tight half-hour of the live Thursday night broadcast and a second person is rejected!

Meaning there’s very little time to lobby the HOH, negotiate with others after the POV contest, and decide which of the final two to send home. At the first double eviction in August, the nerdy Steve, who seemed to be a floater not aligned with the dominant alliance (Vanessa, Austin, the twins) nominated Jackie and Meg, who were aligned with James and Becky.

James had just pulled off the strongest move this summer by nominating Clay and Shelli (who had a “showmance” in the house and were pissed) and getting Clay out. Becky then won HOH and took out Shelli, leaving both alliances tied at four apiece. But because of Steve, Jackie was evicted, weakening James’s alliance. After that, it never recovered. Becky was evicted, leaving James and Meg to fend for themselves (by this time, floaters Steve and Johnny Mac had opted to go with the winning alliance).

When Vanessa (a leather-faced poker player from Vegas with an overbearing personality I’ve hated since Day One) won HOH again, she was looking for a reason to put up Austin, one of her alliance members. She had a discussion with Meg and James, but they were worried about revealing anything that she’d take to her alliance as reason to vote them out. When Vanessa asked about the possibility of using one of them as a pawn (meaning her real target was the other person she nominated), James, who’d obviously fallen for the perky Meg, volunteered.

Meg began to cry, disagreeing, telling Vanessa to put her up instead. It was one of the most moving scenes of the series. Vanessa was shocked. In the diary room (where contestants unload their true feelings that the others don’t get to hear), she said the two were acting like “an old married couple”! Before Vanessa decided on her two nominees, James realized a few weeks ago when Vanessa was in danger of going home, he’d make a deal to keep her if she agreed not to not nominate him and a person of his choice before they got to the Top 7.

Meg cries, offering herself as a nominee instead of her best friend James.

Meg cries, offering herself as a nominee instead of her best friend James.

That would’ve saved him and Meg. But he chose not to remind her fearing it might upset the volatile one. Fatal mistake. They were nominated. He still didn’t remind Vanessa of their deal. James won POV but Meg went home. In the double eviction that same night, one of the twins, Liz, nominated James, who was unable to win the POV again, and went to the jury house, where he and eight others will determine the winner of the contest.

In the double eviction that same night, one of the twins, Liz, nominated James, who was unable to win the POV again, and went to the jury house, where he and six others will determine the winner of the contest.

Vanessa has become probably the most hated contestant on the show. Her intensity at playing the game too hard grates on people’s nerves. She’s also been able to convince the HOH to do the dirty work for her, deciding for nine consecutive weeks who went home. She could convince Eskimos to buy more ice from her. Every time she asks someone if she can talk to them in private, I scream, knowing she’ll end up getting her way.

The “evil” Vanessa feeling sorry for herself again.

The “evil” Vanessa feeling sorry for herself again.

When she’s in power, she bullies people. When she temporarily doesn’t get her way, she feels sorry for herself, crying, then wears that “deer in the headlights” look. worried someone will discover one of her many lies and try to evict her.

James, on the other hand, has surprised people by being so forthright. Host Julie Chen revealed that her husband, CBS CEO Les Moonves, was rooting for James to win because he didn’t apologize for his actions. When Audrey, the transsexual contestant who went crazy in the house and knew she was going home, fell into depression and refused to come out of her room, it was James who cooked breakfast and took it to her. Southern gentleman or what?

He also defied expectations of what a Southerner is, with his Asian (a friend back home revealed he’s actually Korean) face. His participation was one of the most fun aspects this summer.

And who couldn’t relate with him trying to win over the “cute as a button” Meg with her excited eyes, hot body, and naturally cheerful disposition? But like many white women, she only saw James as a “best friend,” not a romantic possibility, probably not helped by the fact that she didn’t grow up seeing a lot of sexy Asian men in the media to the point where she’d actually consider the possibility and… oh, but I digress!

After his eviction, there was really no one left to root for. The twins (Liz and Julia) act like entitled bitches with the whiniest, moaniest (whatever, I’m making it a word, OK?!) voices since Fran Drescher (“The Nanny”); they’ve been protected by Austin, the wrestler who looks like a caveman (with a ponytail on his beard?!), who creepily stalked Liz until she finally fell for his … er… “charms,” even though he already has a girlfriend outside the house; and Steve and Johnny Mac (while funny with his crazy, erratic voice) were floaters who just latched onto the winning side.

I thought many would stop watching without James (who, according to the official “Big Brother” poll, is currently the second most popular player of them all, second only to Johnny) and Meg, and I was shocked how right I was: Sunday, the first show without them, the ratings fell a whopping 27% (the biggest fall all season) to a 1.6 in the 18-49 age group, the lowest rating all year for any of the days the series airs (Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday). The only hope: James will be asked to come back in the future for an “All-Stars” season.

Into the Mailbag: I thought I’d receive some angry letters for my honest assessment of the legacy of George “Horse” Yoshinaga, but I’ve only received compliments. Here’s a sampling. Fellow columnist and good guy Phil Shigekuni wrote: “Thanks, Guy, for your usual forthright take. Your honesty about George, while at times made me squirm a bit, was genuine. It painted a real picture of George, who, I am certain, reflected the views of many of his readers which otherwise would not have been heard. He will definitely be missed.”

Someone who wished to remain anonymous: “I thoroughly agree with your column today. There were many, many times I wanted to correct or contradict him, but knew it was useless so never did. Thank you for making me realize I was not alone. Am sure there were many others who felt the same. There will be those who cancel their subscription now, but hope others will take up the slack… I can NOT believe they would cancel….. Stopped reading that column just because for me it was not interesting at all. I sure hope the editor does not keep reprinting old ones from the past.”

Ernest Ikuta of Cerritos: “I enjoyed your Aug. 27 column in The Rafu pointing out the many idiosyncrasies of the late George Yoshinaga, such as never apologizing for errors he made. He really made a point by insisting that the tarpaper-covered barracks used to house the Japanese during WWII be referred to as internment camps, not concentration camps.

“Harold Ickes, sec. of the interior during the Roosevelt Administration and part of the Truman Administration, stated in an article in Sept. 1946 that ‘the Japanese were crowded into cars like cattle into hastily constructed and thoroughly inadequate concentration camps, with soldiers with nervous muskets on guard, in the great American desert. We gave the fancy name of “relocation centers” to these concentration camps nonetheless.’”

By the way, the Latino documentarian whom I put Horse in touch with in 2011 tells me that although Horse didn’t respond to my email, “I did briefly speak with your contact and he did provide me with great information about several Asian historical sports figures. Unfortunately, I was unable to bring the project to light.”

Jeff Dohzen, also of Cerritos, offered to send me a copy of 1959’s “Crimson Kimono” starring James Shigeta, which featured Yoshinaga in a scene. I readily accepted. I thought he did a fine job acting opposite Shigeta. It was funny to see how the columnist looked and sounded so long ago. This historic movie — where white actress Victoria Shaw chooses Shigeta over his white police partner — deserves a fuller review, which I’ll hopefully do sometime in the future. Thanks, Jeff!

’Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.

Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



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