I’ve been thinking long and hard about doing an article about what everyone’s talking and tweeting about. I even did an article on my own blog about the whole issue from a somewhat analytic point of view. Yet, I feel the need to speak candidly about how I personally feel about the latest news in the wide world of ratchetness in the ever expanding world of reality TV.
By now, you’ve heard about the latest edition of the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) reunion. Explaining what went down by detail is – in my opinion – unnecessary. But the news circulating the globe is the throwdown that went down between Porsha Williams and Kenya Moore, a fight – I came to find out – that was a couple of years in the making.
I wrote in my original piece that it’s human checking out a brawl between two or more people. We see some drama going down; we want to know what happened. And we want to see fists fly. My issue is that when it comes to mainstream programming, why is it seem almost imperative to ‘have’ black folks act degenerative on national TV?
Let’s be real. The media in general helps reinforce a lot of negative stereotypes about us black folks. From constant talk shows where white males reveal the paternity of some black woman’s child to local and national news where crime is the most likely of places, besides the reporters, to see stories about black people, we’re nothing more to the mainstream media than a race of largely hypersexual, irresponsible, violent loudmouths with tacky hair dos and bad grammar.
I’ve never been a fan of such shows like RHOA or any program where negative black stereotypes rake in big ratings. I think RHOA went over the limit with the fight heard around the world for many of its fans, some of whom are black themselves. A lot of folks thought that fight was taking things too far considering that this may be their wildest and most violent season yet, and they’ve voiced their opinions on whom they can’t stand, even if certain ones were once admired and respected in another lifetime.
But some of those fans see nothing wrong with it. They argue that reality TV makes fools out of anyone. The argument here is that when it comes to black folks acting up, it is indicative of who most of them truly are. But there is a more serious issue to it all.
There is research to confirm that media portrayals of black people can not only influence the mentality of those who watch them, but can also have real world consequences for black folks. This kind of thinking can influence how black folks are treated and how black people see themselves. The worse-case scenario is that it could lead to imprisonment or death.
Should the blame rest entirely on the cast of the RHOA? No. Yet, I know a lot of people will blame the hell outta them. The network heads over at Bravo TV, especially Andy Cohen himself, must be held accountable as well, probably largely so since they promote this kind of “entertainment”. But let’s not put all the blame on RHOA or any one show, for that matter. The TV executives who promote negative stereotypes of black people more so than any other image that shows the humanity and complexity of blacks like they do with white folks must be held accountable. The people, especially those with kids who let them watch as well, who tune in to watch this kind of exploitation are also responsible. And yes. The brothas, sistas and crazy ass negroes behind and in front of the camera need a wake-up call as well.
ColorofChange.org is calling for a serious change in RHOA’s “violent portrayal of black people. But there are other shows that need to be tackled as well. Personally, I hope they go after Maury and The First48 next.