Today’s post will not have any deep meaningful messages, thought-provoking scripture or philosophical undertones- maybe you are of the opinion that none of my posts do, that’s fine, it was never my intention anyway. What today’s post will be, however, is a rant on a topic that arguably does not deserve any more attention than it already gets.
I have watched reality TV for as long as I can remember. From Flavor of Love to The Hills, these pointless and meaningless shows have served as entertainment for me from at least the age of 10. However, back then, besides watching Lauren Hill climb the social ladder or Hoopz and New York battle it out for a clock, I didn’t think much of it, after all, what else does a pre-teen have to think about?
In the past 5 years, thanks to the rise of socialites turned business women like Kim Kardashian, we have the likes of Cardi B and Kenya Moore trying to follow in their footsteps. Now don’t get me wrong, these two personalities both had careers prior to their on-screen antics and they both have the right to pay their bills in any way they please, as do we all. My personal problem with it is not their chosen method of career progression, but what it is they represent.
Not so long ago, I was a regular viewer of shows like Love and Hip Hop and Basketball Wives, initially because I enjoyed watching vloggers like MissPTV give her weekly reviews and somewhere along the lines my interest grew because I needed a pastime between lectures- something that would temporarily steer my mind away from trigonometric theory and combustion engines. In essence, I needed to watch something that required no brain power and would dumb me down. As the shows grew in popularity, I found that the post-air discussions that took place on our beloved Twitter Timeline were even more interesting than the show itself and who wants to be left out of that? So, long story short, I joined the wave.
But over a year ago, when life started to cave in on me, when my vision became blurry and ambition seemed to be seeping out of me (yes I know, I’m being dramatic ), I had to do some deep soul searching and yes, somehow, I fished out Reality TV. How could I expect to be as motivated and inspired as I was 3 years ago if I wasn’t feeding my mind with the same nutritional food? I wasn’t reading stories about successful people or projects, I wasn’t learning about new innovations, I wasn’t up to date with the matters of the world and I wasn’t able to sustain intellectual conversations with intellectual people because the only thing I could contribute to a conversation was my opinion on whether or not Amina Buddafly was stupid for staying with Peter Gunz- the answer, by the way, is yes.
I’m not suggesting that watching such shows made me lazy, being in a lazy state is what drove me to watch them in the first place. But do I learn anything from watching grown men and women fight over who is the most entitled baby-momma, besides from the fact that acting like a baboon has its repercussions? No. Might I also add that I already knew this and so nothing new was learnt.
What is somewhat frightening is how much my dear ‘friends’ on the Timeline absorb a lot of the behaviour they see on these ‘reality’ tv shows that they deem to be acceptable. I honestly can’t comment any further on this- I have typed and deleted my opinion about 5 times already whilst drafting this and I am struggling to compose my words in a manner that avoids being painfully disrespectful and so we’ll just have to leave that there.
My problem with Reality TV as a whole (not just the influence it has on me) is the image it portrays, especially of black women. After nearly two years of not watching, I thought I’d chime in and watch one of the reunion shows, you know, “for the culture”. Exactly 6 minutes in and I remembered why I stopped watching. I was truly disgusted. Maybe I’m jealous. Maybe deep down, I wished that I could display my sexual encounters, snatch wigs, throw drinks, attack people’s mothers, call my fellow woman every name under the sun, disrespect my wife, cheat on my boyfriend and have my highlight permanently on fleek whilst being filmed by cameras knowing that in the end there was a large check waiting for me. Maybe, there is a part of me that wishes I could exploit myself in such a manner and feel good about it. The reason I can’t however is not because I am ‘woke’ or socially aware as many like to put it, but because I have what few like to call self-respect. The irony is that there is no reality in these reality TV shows. Times are hard. Especially as a black woman. In my short years, I have experienced enough to know that. So, to come to terms with the fact that a stereotype like this is brewing and that young girls are watching this with innocent eyes is upsetting to me.
A great philosopher once said that “this shit is super entertaining on the lowest level possible”. I agree it didn’t take long for me to be sucked in by the culture, to pick and choose my favourite characters and even defend some of their actions on social media. In an interview with Vulture.com, he continued on to say “I was a true hater. I thought it was evil; I thought it was the devil because it teaches the younger generation… that it really happens”. Any die-hard fan of the great J Cole is aware of his hatred, his song No Role Modelz tells us exactly why. I’d be lying if I said his words didn’t influence my decision to stop filling my head with such rubbish. On the song, Cole speaks about the lack of respectable public images of black women, how quick our generation is to praise such characters for nothing and how easy it is to lose sight of what the black community really needs at this time. THIS is why he went double platinum with no features…
But anyway: I get it. Not every show needs to teach us a lesson, black women can’t be on edge with everything they do just because the white man might judge them, after all, nobody complains about Honey Boo Boo. But maybe the next time you invest so much time and effort into the lives of people who seem to do absolutely nothing of value, maybe you should take a moment to think about how much time you invest into yourself.
If you have a dream, a large goal you’re working towards and some sort of vision for where your life will go, it is likely that you have a strong passion for it, a passion that takes up the majority of your day and doesn’t leave you enough free time to criticise how Moniece raises her kids; because ultimately, as you watch Reality TV, that is all you are doing: judging people you don’t actually know.
My message here is not that Love and Hip Hop is bad for you, by all means, watch whatever you please, but be conscious of what you feed your mind because eventually it will indeed grow, mature and manifest into a true reality.