Reality TV – The Bane of Black America

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Ever since America was forced to suffer through three seasons of Flavor of Love and Ty Ruff from the Real World: DC showed his tail, it seems like “unscripted” television has had it out for Black folks. The only “real” depictions we get of ourselves are loud, foul mouthed, feisty, angry, ghetto, whorish and utterly shameless folk who will do just about anything for a quick dollar and 15 minutes of fame. But last night’s airing of The Best Funerals Ever on TLC took this level of debasement to a whole ‘notha level!   (I would have given you a link to the show but hilariously and ironically The Learning Channel doesn’t even have the show listed on their website. SMH)

Once again, my homegirl Lesley got on the phone and besought me to tune into this show that I had already said I wouldn’t watch. And my dumb self listened… again! Now let me preface my comments by saying I have been to a few fooly funes (say that fast 3x) in my lifetime and it’s always a topic of conversational whispers and side-eye when somebody rolls under a casket, shouts, acts a fool and tells the deceased to get up. But what was displayed on that show was beyond ridiculous. Never in all of my funeral attending days have I ever seen a Christmas pageant acted out, a barbecue sauce fountain or taken the deceased on carnival rides. The whole show had my mouth agape. I was in the purest form of awe at the antics that these people displayed on national TV. Don’t they realize they risk a LOT of business by doing this? People don’t play about funes! Homegoing services are a special tradition in Black families. We usually take them seriously as they are a part of our grieving process. And even though we tend to act out of character from time to time, they are never to be mocked.

But it seems like cable networks are making a mockery of Black folks in general these days. Whether it’s the basketball wives who have never been wives and don’t show anything related to the lifestyle of being a wife of a basketball player, washed up record producers who drive busses of women, churchless and classless first ladies, a man with ten babies’ mamas living under one roof or in this case, families memorializing their loved ones with audacious displays of foolery, Black folks just can’t get a break! The question in television is always similar to the chicken-egg conundrum; who is at fault for these continuously and increasingly negative displays, the audience or the networks? After all, I’m 110% certain a network would never take a chance on shows as bold as these if they didn’t do the research and have a basis for assuming they would garner ratings. There is a method to the madness. Are we so attracted to watching these train wrecks that we throw all caution and morality to the wind? Are the networks so money hungry that they will pay people mere fractions of what they make in ad revenues to air their filthy laundry and foolishness so that they don’t have to pay real writers and actors for good fiction? Are these reality “stars” so thirsty for attention they will do anything on television? It’s hard to decipher where the wreck begins and how everybody got involved in the pile up.

Sound off. What do you think? Do you watch reality TV? Why? Do you draw a line at what you’ll watch and what you won’t?

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