by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother
This one’s for all you Reality TV fans out there!
I saw this article in Newsweek this week and thought it would make for great debate. Some of you may be rolling your eyes or saying “Not again” but hear me out, because if you have a TV, this impacts you as well.
The point of the Newsweek piece is that reality TV is not kind to Black women, and chances are, unless you are the head bobbin’, finger poppin’, take-no-sh*t, confrontational sort, your chances of being cast in one of these shows are pretty slim.
A common sight lately, according to the piece, is placing two or more headstrong African American women on the same show and watch them go at each other, a la Star Jones and NeNe Leakes on this season’s Celebrity Apprentice. Sound like a modern day cage match? Yeah, it did to me too.
Here’s my take; you’ve seen me talk about the Angry Black Woman stereotype and the role television plays in keeping it alive. Say what you will about television but it is a powerful medium, one that helps shape the world around us, for better or worse. The concern is that people who may not live in areas rich in diversity, are going to formulate opinions based on what they see come out of that very powerful box. And lately, it’s just been a bunch of black women ready to throw down.
Why should you worry? Are you Italian? How much time do you spend running around lifting up your GTL shirt to show the world your abs? Probably not a lot, but tell that to a young person who may not live in a diverse part of the country but through the gift that is cable TV, gets to formulate an opinion about Italian Americans based on the runaway hit that is Jersey Shore. Not good. Now, lest you think me devoid of humor you must know I’m not saying do away with ALL of it; things like this become stereotypes because there is a kernel of truth in them and some of it frankly, is funny. The problem is when it becomes all or nothing. And based on what we see of Black women on TV, God help us all when Oprah goes off the air.
That’s my opinion; what’s yours? Do you have an issue with shows that cast only stereotypes, to the exclusion of all others? Are you tired of seeing head bobbing black women on reality shows? Start debating everyone…