Protecting Our Image: Why Should We Stop Watching Trashy Reality TV?
When I was a kid, parents had these things called rules. My mother had a very specific set of rules for me when it came to the television shows I was allowed to watch. For example, I was allowed to watch Living Single, but not Martin. I spent many nights sneaking away into my room during that time to watch Martin. Though the rules weren’t failsafe, those rules kept me from fully immersing myself in those shows. Simply put, even when I was breaking the rules, I was aware that what I was doing was wrong. Let’s just say, if I wasn’t watching Nick at Night, it quickly became Switch at Night.
I’ve never seen an episode of Love & Hip Hop, Real Housewives or Basketball Wives. Correction, I’ve seen two episodes of Basketball Wives. Once, to see a friend who was appearing on the show, and another to write an article about Evelyn Lozada. I have absolutely no interest in those shows. I’m usually so frustrated with them overpopulating my timeline that I never articulate my thoughts clearly. It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend a week ago that I was able to develop my thoughts into an organized set of reasons why these shows should be euthanized.
There used to be a time when there was some decency to our reality television. At least, Kim Kardashian was a trust fund kid who we enjoyed watching “party” all the time. These shows glorify women who bring absolutely nothing to the table to validate their notoriety except their connection with professional athletes. They’re not rich, funny, talented, or providing any insight that we don’t already have.
I’m aware that it is the parents’ role to control the images and material their children are allowed to digest. With that said, I’ve lost almost all faith in parenting in America. I’m sure there are some parents out there who are doing their best to keep this away from their underdeveloped children’s minds, but the majority are not. This leads me to fear that little girls will grow up thinking that these shows represent viable routes in life. I never want women to confuse starting a reality show empire of trashy women who’s claim to fame rests in their loins with ambition.
Folks who like to say, “I just think it’s entertaining,” fail to realize that television has never been this trashy during primetime. When we compare these shows to trashy talk shows that were popular years ago, we fail to realize those shows aired while most of us were at work or school. The only people who were able to catch those shows everyday were children without good parents or trailer park folks who made a living off Keno.
Women who watch these shows, faithfully, concern me. Whether you think that Shaunie O’Neal is an excellent entrepreneur or you’re only watching for entertainment purposes, it’s concerning. There’s a problem when you devote time to staying up-to-date with a show about women you claim to never want to be in life. For example, I listen to Jeezy everyday for about three hours. If there was no such thing as guns and jail, I would be in Atlanta selling bricks right now! That goes to show you that if you digest something for a significant amount of time, you’re lying to yourself when you claim you don’t somehow want that life.
Men who watch these shows, at all, concern me. If a man is forced to watch these shows by his old lady, he’s excused. (He needs to grow a pair, but he’s excused.) If a man is watching these shows because he wants to be able to rant with everyone else on Twitter, he concerns me. If a man genuinely enjoys this show, he really concerns me. Nothing about these shows is attractive to me. You know what I hate? Golddiggers and groupies. Do I believe that there is a world void of them? Nope. There’s never going to be a time when the services of those women are no longer needed. We just have to remember how we compensate these women. Outside of yards, golddiggers are paid in gold and groupies are paid by association, not by television show contracts and deals.
Of course the reply that I received was, “Nothing you can do about it now.”
And I said, “Eh, not really. There’s something we can do, but it’s going to take some work.”
I don’t believe in boycotting anything. It was effective years ago when we had real issues to stand for. In the grand scheme of things, a reality television show is not a real issue. (It’s a non-motherf*cking factor.) We could ask for better programming from our networks, but I fear that will just increase the number of True Blood fans. Also, if any white network executive was to cancel the show, we’d consider it racism. I had a really great idea called, “The New Edition Plan.” Basically, we would force them all to pursue a solo career which never gets past the point of mediocrity. It sounded like a good idea at the time until I couldn’t stand the thought of Evelyn Lozada calling herself, The Queen of Reality TV.
That’s when I realized that we wouldn’t be able to eliminate the show altogether, but we’d have to affect their lifeline, ad money. I dug deep for this one, but I think I came up with a viable solution.
Do you remember the effect this label had on the hip hop industry? This label didn’t kill your career, but it sure held you back. Equipped with this label, anyone watching these TV shows would be well aware that they are now watching absolute trash. Equipped with this label, we’d also be able to use words like “ignorant” and “ratchet” in the media without appearing to be racially insensitive. The parents who don’t have time to check every television show that their children are watching can quickly see the label in the corner of the screen and change the channel. This label and the connotation associated with this label would undoubtedly end all trash television. The ad agencies would stop purchasing ads during those time slots. Then, we could all go back to doing what we were doing before trashy reality television shows took over our television waves… Keeping up with the Kardashians.
How do you feel about trashy reality TV shows about former girlfriends/wives of athletes and entertainers? Do you feel these shows are helping or hurting our image as Black or Latino people? Do you think it’s feasible to allow this programming to continue in its current format with no real effects on our youth?