VH1 reality TV a showcase for ignorance?

Reality TV a showcase for ignorance? - Clacking in Color

Reality TV shows such as ‘Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta’ seem to be going strong, but is it promoting ignorance? In this week’s Clacking in Color, the groovy column spotlighting minorities on TV, writer Jaylen Christie wonders why the heck people watch this stuff.

I like all kinds of programming — except for, well, reality television. That stuff is crap.

Anyone that has been keeping up with Clacking in Color knows that I am in love with television. In fact, I think I may be a tad bit obsessed with it. Perchance I’ll enlist in counseling. Just like the racially diverse actors and actresses that I commonly write about, I don’t discriminate against the sitcoms and serials that I watch. I like all kinds of programming — except for, well, reality television. That stuff is crap.

Now, I’m not knocking anyone who finds these kinds of programs fascinating. Hell, I’m a 25-year-old man and I still think Power Rangers is appointment television. Nevertheless, I feel as though a little bit of me dies whenever I’m forced to look at some of the latest reality shows — especially the urban ones on VH1 — and for the life of me, I can’t seem to understand why some of them are so darn popular. One in particular seems to really grind my gears — Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta. Some believe it’s entertaining. I feel it’s ignorance … on acid.

Since its debut on June 18, the “reality” show has followed the lives of the sassy (and good-looking) girlfriends of rappers and hip-hop music artists. The premise is fascinating. It’s the fights, back-stabbing, gossiping, cheating and gold-digging that makes it nonsensical. With the recent news of Steve Harvey becoming an advice-dishing talk show host, maybe these brassy ladies can book a gig with him to sort out their issues. I mean, seriously. Can’t we all get along? I’m all for seeing more chocolate-colored individuals on TV. Quite frankly, I think most networks could use a little more infusion of minority magic. However, shows like Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta, The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Basketball Wives reinforce negative stereotypes and tend to knock us back several years. If I wanted to go back in time, I’d call Doc Brown and board a DeLoreon. Alas, I like 2012.

And people like Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta apparently.

It’s frequently the highest rated Monday night show on basic cable, and its season finale drew 3.7 million viewers. Oy, gevalt. The world must be coming to an end. Having said that, why do so many people watch this stuff?

Heck, they really aren’t the best depictions for anyone of any color, sexual orientation, preference or background. I’m looking at you, Big Ang!

Perhaps it could be for the very reason that I loathe such programming — it’s mindless. A friend of mine, a savvy law student, admits to watching the program for that very reason. She said that after learning so much in a day and spending hours upon hours in textbooks, it’s rather relaxing to watch nonsense. Those were her words. Not mine. Pardon me for saying so, but I just feel that shows like that aren’t exactly the best depictions of minorities. Heck, they really aren’t the best depictions for anyone of any color, sexual orientation, preference or background. I’m looking at you, Big Ang!

Maybe some of the individuals in these so-called reality shows have hopes of making it big. Perhaps they figure that the more loud, rude, and “real” they are, the more they’ll get noticed. Isn’t that what garnered NeNe Leakes, of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, fame and media attention? That sister just landed on one of NBC’s brand-new anticipated sitcoms, The New Normal. Still, why act bad-mannered and ill-bred to garner attention? Isn’t that backwards?

I’d think that given everything we’ve been through these last four years, one would be trying to move forward. Why spend your life looking in the rear view mirror? Didn’t Rihanna say shut up and drive? Okay, so that was a joke, but you get my point, right? With minorities on TV being so few and far between, we could use a few positive role models. Instead of seeing a basketball wife, I’d love to see the president’s wife, Michelle Obama, with a reality mini-series. I bet it’d be inspirational. Unfortunately, inspiration doesn’t sell. Ignorance does.

And that’s reality.

Photo Credit: VH1

19 Comments on “VH1 reality TV a showcase for ignorance?

  1. I think some of it is spectacle .. that part of us that slows down to look at a car crash or in times gone by buys a ticket to a traveling freak show. But from the female POV, these shows also make me groan because they aren’t doing ladies of ANY color any favors. We already have to deal with the stereotype of petty, catty, overemotional flibbertigibbets … we don’t need half a dozen shows confirming that fallacy.

    • That’s interesting that you mention that, Katie. I would imagine that women do have a lot of stereotypes to deal with already. There are some people that watch these shows that don’t get caught up in the hype…like my law school friend for example. I guess it’s kind of like a guilty pleasure, eh?

  2. I agree with what you are saying; unfortunately, people like what they like and they like watching Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. I think some of it is a disgrace to african american women. These women are lowering their standards just to have a man. They are also setting bad examples for their daugthers. i guess money is more important than dignity.

    I look forward to reading your next article on Clacking in Color.

    • Thanks so much! I’ll be back next Tuesday with a brand new topic! :-)

  3. Call it out for the crap it is, bro. Reality TV sucks and it seems we have a plethora of the mindless series scattered throughout networks. Remeber Flavor of Love, I Love NY and I Love Money?? My gosh…it seems as though reality TV ate good shows and has had a bad case of diarrhea. The shows do no one a favor. While some may feature a particular race, it brings everyone down as a whole and some are foolish enough to actually think it’s actual reality. That’s like thinking what happens in a video game goes on in real life. That crap is micro-scripted and edited for only certain parts. The men and women who are featured only bring themselves down, but we as the viewers only glorify and reward them for poor behavior. We have created a monster. Great topic, Jay. keep it coming.

  4. Wow! I agree with you that is not a good show. However a lot of people watch it. And you should never reward people for bad behavior.

  5. Katie said it first and said it best, “the spectacle, the car crash and the freak show” that reality shows give us. Mindless entertainment to make us feel better about ourselves, cause after all, we are all schmucks. Just that some of us have accepted it and some are so clueless that they need to go on TV to prove it. The term famewhore was coined for these attention seekers who have no talent, ability or skill and our culture is littered with them. Honey Boo Boo and her family, the folks on Hoarders, 19 Kids and My Strange Addiction are all on TLC or what use to be called The Learning Channel. Guess what I’ve learned is change the channel or read a book or visit friends or post on Cliqueclack. All things that feed my soul.

    • Otto! I’m so glad you found this week’s ‘Clacking in Color!’ With so many wonderful changes going on with the website, I thought it may get lost in the mix. I’m glad we see eye to eye on this particular topic. Perhaps these shows really are supposed to make us feel better about ourselves… or at least give us an example of how not to behave.

      • Tuesdays are for “C-I-C”. Always enjoy reading your posts and, so far, trolls don’t seem to be problem on this site. Just folks exchanging ideas. With the great job you did with “Dallas” and “Royal Pains” recently, any chance you’ll be writing about “Fringe” when it returns?

        • You are too kind. It’s nice to know that people read my stuff. Hmm… I don’t know if I’ll be covering Fringe, Otto. However, there is a chance that I’ll be covering Arrow on The CW! I’m looking forward to that!

          • Having watched the clips of “Arrow” on the CW website, it’s clear that there are some talented people involved. Katie Cassidy as the female lead, Greg Berlanti is writing it, David Barrett directed the pilot and Stephen Amell (who could be my double {KIDDING}) as Arrow should be fun to watch. Look forward to you coverage.

  6. Looking at it from a network perspective, the sole intention is to earn a profit. Reality TV is cheap to make and brings in crazy amounts of cash. People watch the shows because of the drama and foolishness-on the most basic level, it’s wildly entertaining. Executives know this, so they create situations and edit shows to cater to ‘our’ needs, while still raking in the dough. It’s a pretty simple equation. From a viewer’s perspective,different people watch for different reasons. Like your friend in law school, some people just want to escape the stresses of life, so they turn to TV(and that’s what TV is supposed to do anyway, right?). Other people can relate to the people and situations, so they feel comfortable or kind of welcomed with the shows. As far as it pushing us back as a people, I definitely think it does, but regardless of if we’re recorded or not, we’re still out there being these people. Reality TV just provided a platform for us to show it to the world. The question should be of our generation and when this lack of self-respect became the norm. I’m about 90% sure that most of them do it for the money and don’t care about how they’re portraying themselves, so again, I’m wondering when and how we fell so far from the tree.

  7. I admit to watching some reality tv; but that being said, h ow “real” can the show actually be? To me, if you are inclined toward this type of programing, watch the show knowing that some, if not all is scripted.

  8. I hate to say it, but i love “reality” tv, even though we know reality tv isnt true “reality”. Yes, you are totally right when you say that it promotes ignorance at times. But we have to realize that this is just a form of entertainment. Yes, it may be someone’s life that we’re viewing, but it’ still entertainmet. And why do we love to say that something has set us back? Why let Basketball Wives set us back? I look at shows like the Real World and 16 and Pregnant which I love. The Real World has sex, drugs, more sex, violence, more sex, alcoholism…AND MORE SEX…you name it, it has it. This show has been on the air for at least 15 years now, if not longer. I dont ever here anyone of caucasian desent saying how this show is setting them back, And what’s trippng me out on 16 & Pregnant is that i cant rememeber ever seeing anyone black on there ever. Maybe before i started watching it or maybe i missed that episode, i’m not sure. No one is talking about these young ladies setting them back. When people watch these shows, they watch it for pure entertainment value. They allow the show to hold their attention, that’s it. You know a reality show that makes us look ignorant every single day? Look at your local news station. We dont need reality tv to make us look ignorant, we do it to ourselves.

    I’m a 6’2″ 215 pound black man. The other day a lady saw me walking by and she clinched onto her purse tighter than your favorite running back for your favorite football team. I’m willing to bet these reality shows had nothing to do with her feeling unsafe. Lets get to the issue. It’s time for us as parents/gaurdians to spend “quality” time with our children doing somethng constructive instead of letting our children watch and absorb television material that is meant for the adult viewer. I dont have any children so i’m not going to pretend like i know the time and energy it takes to raise one. However, I’ve seen parents sit their children in front of the tv so they can do other things and in my opinion that’s a problem. I remember turning the tv to Eddie Murphy’s Raw stand up comedy on HBO when i was a child and my father told me he did not want me to watch it due to the nature of the show. How many parents are REALLY controlling what their children are watching?

    Be a role model to your children so these reality stars dont become one. And, if you’re an adult and you let these shows persuade you to act foolish then you have issues that run deeper than just watching trash tv. In the word of Jay-Z, “It’s Only Entertainment”.

    • You certainly have a point, dude! The news is scary. However, if we can look to the news for negative images of us and people in general, then shouldn’t there be a nice balance with the other programs on TV? Shouldn’t there be something a bit more positive? I can definitely understand the escapism factor of reality TV, but seriously, how is catfights and golddigging and back-stabbing a good thing? Is that friendship?

      I don’t think Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta just sets Black people back. I think these kinds of shows set EVERYONE back. They aren’t overly positive. How many times is the B word uttered in that show? How many times are they gossiping about one another? I would hate to be a celebrity known for being cruel to others on TV. To me, that’s just not right. Furthermore, why would I want to meet someone who does that sort of thing to other people? Yes, it’s only entertainment, and perhaps that’s what some of us should realize, but these people aren’t examples of how to act and behave.

      I’m not saying every reality show is terrible. I’m sure there are some good ones, but I certainly wouldn’t allow my children to watch some of that nonsense. I’m glad to know that you were blessed with a father that monitored what you watched. That’s a good thing. You certainly sound like you know the difference between what is real and what is entertainment. Amen to that. :-)

  9. This is great stuff and will forward it to my friends….

    my friends and I were just talking about this. I think those shows are very funny and I have to agree with your friend its mindless tv. I personally don’t take it seriously and love watching the drama.

    • Yes, please forward to your friends! I love to get different opinions. Thanks so much for reading! And yes, it’s mindless TV. Maybe we could use a little mindless TV to unwind sometimes. :-)

  10. I watch this foolishness simply because it’s easy to laugh at someone else’s pain. To escape your own issues and watch someone else’s for at least a hour is joy in a trashcan.
    I think that some people believe that every Black person on televisions should be an advocate for our race, WRONG! These shows are just what you see, get rich schemes.
    Scripted or not, there is something intoxicating about getting a peak into somebody’s life. Besides, its not all bad. T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, La La’s Full Court Life, Tia and Tamera, that’s just to name a few!
    I love the good and bad of reality. Someone told me one to chew the meat and spit out the bone. In other words, consume what’s “good” to you and disregard what isn’t.

  11. Reality television has its place in today’s society, but it has declined in its depiction of the so called lives of people. It is now just a game of one show trying to up another. I must say I am of fan of some shows, but any program that reflects my people in a bad light, I rather not see. Actually, they make me ashame because its not entertainment, but its living up to a sterotype that I would rather dispel. Everything can’t be about the dollar, it must be about self-pride.

    Jaylen, each post is thought-provoking and intriquing. I am a committed fan!

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