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