Okay, I finally have decided to address this reality t.v. phenomenon. What ignited my literary fire was when I recently learned that Shawty-Lo is supposed to be coming out with a reality t.v. series portraying the life of him and his 11 children and their 10 mothers. Best of all, the title: “All My Babies’ Mamas.” My first thought was WTF?!?! and my second thought was: isn’t there a place where we took all the coons and laid them to rest??
First let me address this particular reality show. I have to admit I never saw this one coming. Ofcourse, all Black reality t.v. shows tend destroy brain cells as we watch. Yes there is plenty of minstrelsy, ignorance, stereotypical, and cliche behavior that happens on these shows. I, still, did not see this one coming. Maybe that was because most Black reality shows center around Black women and they usually take the brunt of the negative portrayals. However, this show is taking everything to another level.
In 2013, there is no need for the nation to see a Black man who is proud (or ignorant) of the fact that he has created 10 unwed Black mothers and 11 bastards (because that’s what they used to call them). Do we, as individuals, know that there are guys like Shawty-Lo out there? Yes. Do some of us know them personally or are related to them? Yes. But who in Hell wants to watch these clowns nightly. Hell, I don’t want to look them in the eye in real life. After all the progress Black men have been making in terms of clearing up our public image, this will set us back a decade. We have been the “unknown father,” “the dead beat dad,” “the detached husband/father,” and a list of other stereotypes. We were beginning to make progress in terms of demonstrating the divergent definitions of what it means to be a Black man in America. We are just beginning to show that Black manhood and Black masculinity are as diverse as with any other race. And along comes a porch monkey…smh.
Alright, my rant done. I would like to explore this intellectually for a moment. I understand Shawty-Lo has been defending his show and that the network is continuing with development despite the criticism. There are 2 very dangerous issues being represented in this situation: Cultural Precedence and National Identity.
There is a dangerous problem here of which the Black community should take note: the fact that someone thought this was okay and that we (the Black community) would be okay with it? We had better get a whole lot more critical about the way we are portrayed and what we will allow the country to accept as an objective truth.
Often when discussions like this arise the conversation turns into a debate about the individual vs. the community. It is a worthy discussion; however, my conclusion is always that a community is a collective of individuals. That means one does not negate the other; it is a dynamic. A dynamic that requires both the individual and the community. We need to understand this dynamic and respect the boundaries therein.
Everyone is entitled to be an individual. This does not mean that an individual can do anything they want and think it does not affect someone else. It’s like first amendment rights. They are there to protect personal freedoms but if at anytime they threaten national security, those right are forfeit. At some point the Black community has to stop allowing any and everything to happen to us. We have to engage the world when it is affecting anyone who looks like us.
This is a country that operates on precedence. In the legal system if one judge allows someone to get away with something, it basically makes it okay for someone else to come behind that person and be justified in doing the same thing. Therefore, we have to be aware of how cultural precedences (a concept I’m developing) affect our national identity.
The Real on Reality T.V.
There is very informative article from Writer’s Digest on how reality is manipulated in a way that is similar to having a script. This is to say that even without a formal script reality t.v. Is not a arbitrary portrayal of real life. Networks intend to make it entertaining t.v. either in post or pre production.
So the excuse that these shows are giving the public a realistic insight is not always true. What does that mean? That means that someone is in control of the way people are depicted. Stereotypes can easily be reinforced through clips selection in production. Therefore, someone intends for certain things to come across on screen. That removes the truthful “realistic” aspect of the entire show. Someone means for these individuals to come across a certain way by highlighting selected scenes and behaviors.
In the case of Shawty-Lo, that means someone decided that it was okay to portray a Black man as an ignorant ghetto breeding bull with a stable full of heifers. That is problematic. It either suggests someone is looking at Black people this way or that they intend for the rest of the world to do so. It’s like allowing some to videotape you shitting in the toilet and excuse the embarrassment it causes because “it’s real.” It is true we all defacate but there is no GOOD reason for us to show the whole world. Honestly, it eats the concer of realness, at least as it applies to the Black community.
That is why we cannot sit idly by and allow the least of us to be exploited because of their ignorance at the expense of the entire community. Shawty-Lo, go somewhere with that bullshit. Sit your ignorant aaa down somewhere and focus and developing your talent to a level where it can garner the fame you desire. Don’t be a fame whore willing to do anything for five minutes of fame. It would do all Black people with such desperate aspirations for fame to realize that the old saying us true: everyone gets their five minutes of fame. My questions: what will it cost? Life is longer than that five minutes of fame both before and after. So, in what will you do with those other minutes after you have sold your dignity and compromised the community? Will it REALLY all be worth it?
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man