Sil Abrams: Are Black People Responsible for the Rise of Reality TV?

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Sil lai Abrams at TheGrio.com asks whether or not black people are the ones who are responsible for building up the television shows that we complain about.  At the same time, black people are not one-in-the-same.  We don’t all watch the same shows, we don’t all complain about the same issues.  So, while one black person may be speaking out about reality TV, there might be another person who turns on the station whenever the show is on.

Should every black person feel responsible for what other black people are watching TV?  We say that not every black person has to be concerned with what every other person is doing.  There will always be another Shawty Lo out there, and he will always have fans.   There will also be as many baby’s mamas than college graduates, and maybe this is something that we have to accept. 

Let’s hear Abram’s point of view:

At this point, most black people with an Internet connection have heard the news that the Oxygen network has a new reality show in the pipeline that revolves around G-Unit rapper Shawty Lo and the relationships he has with the ten mothers of his eleven children. The public outcry in response to the press release announcing that All My Babies’ Mamas would be added to the network’s Spring 2013 lineup has been swift and appears to have been effective.  Several petitions on Change.org were posted in the aftermath, the most successful one being from bestselling author Sabrina Lamb, which as of press time has gained over 33,000 signatures in just a few days.

Through a spokesperson, Oxygen President Jason Klarman issued a tepid response to an email from the New York Chapter of the NAACP requesting that the show be canceled.  “[W]e are highly attuned and sensitive to your concerns and our diverse team of creative executives will continue their involvement as the special is developed,”  his statement read.

Yet, over the course of a few days and in the face of increasingly louder voices of criticism, it seems that Klarman may have done an about face on the show. On Monday according to the Associated Press, Rod Aissa, Oxygen’s programming head, met with network television writers to discuss new shows such as Find Me My Man, Too Young to Marry? and Fat Girl Revenge.

Which show was missing from the presentation?  You guessed it: All My Babies’ Mamas

Still, this show is just a speck in a dust storm of devilment. Over the past several weeks networks have been steadily releasing their upcoming programming schedule. Out of the 46 new reality shows slated for the spring, 45 percent are comprised of an exclusively white cast, 28 percent are predominantly black, and 26 percent have multicultural cast members (including Kimora Lee Simmons’s show and the Dominican cast of Washington Heights). Black Americans make up 13.7 percent of the U.S. population, but we are represented in almost 30 percent of the new reality shows, many of which perpetuate some of the most damaging racial stereotypes.

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2 Responses to Sil Abrams: Are Black People Responsible for the Rise of Reality TV?

  1. Makeba January 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Follow the money…. and you can find out who started this trend. There was a time when Black folks demanded to see POSITIVE IMAGES on TV about our culture, history, etc. We were tired of seeing the negative, racist stereotypes of Blacks in shows who were maids, butlers, and “tap dancing toms” — etc.

    So…they put on a show called JULIA…which was one of the first with a Black woman in a positive role. Then along came a few more shows….including SOUL TRAIN and BILL COSBY…and so forth.

    But most recently …there is a lot of crazy, silly, foolishness on TV and in the movies…depicting Blacks on “reality shows” that are more like The JERRY SPRINGER SHOW or MAURY POVICH.
    When he was interviewed and asked where he finds his guests for his show…Jerry Springer answered….”It is not difficult…they are all over the place. I have a long list of more of them.”

    So… I don’t think that there is any difficulty in finding Blacks who are ready and willing to get before a camera and act like some doggone fools…or to fight each other…or “shake that money maker…”

    And then we have the topic of SLAVERY coming up over and over and over. But who is making the big bucks off these negative portrayals????

    Reply
  2. Destitute American January 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    We are not responsible for the rise of reality TV shows. That mess predates us (from Jerry Springer’s exploitation to Honey Boo crap). However, we are absolutely responsible for our participation and support of such shows like Love and Hip Hop, RHOA, Flavor of Love, etc.)

    I never watched any of these, black or white and have no intention of exposing me or my kids to this mess. Much like when Denzel Washington (and yes, I know some fictional films are just as unflattering portraits but we are talking about crap that passes as ‘reality’) was offered “The Nigger That Wouldn’t Die” part, some things in life really just should be turned down on principle. Ya’ll remember those right?

    Starving is not an excuse… and not the truth. I have seen the diabetes and dialysis numbers and they continue to rise. I just wish the actors and actresses would rise above these shows…

    Reply

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