While looking through my stacks of unread magazines, I came across an interesting article in the January 2013 issue of Essence called Real World. This five page spread talks about the perception of African American women displayed in reality t.v. Shows like ‘Basketball Wives’, ‘Love and Hip Hop’, and ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ are packed with high drama, fights and conflict over men. Although it is all entertainment, where is the line drawn between compromising your character for a quick check?
Some may think that the women on these shows are the ONLY ones to blame for how they are depicted on screen, but I beg to differ. Yes, it always comes back to the women themselves making the final decision on whether or not they are going to throw that drink, or argue with their significant other in the street, or even argue at all, but both sides have to be examined. Producers of these shows put the women in uncomfortable situations, that they know will cause them to react. Viewers can always sit at home and say what they would do, and what they wouldn’t do if they were in that situation, but nine times out of ten, you would have to be put in an uncomfortable situation of your own before you can judge. (Playing Devil’s Advocate)
“When people watch shows that depict black women as violent and irrational, they think that’s how black people resolve conflict.”- Marc Lamont Hill Ph.D
A lot of people feel that the stereotypes of black women are being perpetuated by these shows. I half heartedly agree. At the same time, you can NOT base your opinion of one person off of someone you’ve seen on television. I don’t agree with the anger against these women for making the best out of their fame. Spin-off television shows , cosmetic lines, book deals and money all make sense. Personally, I think it would be STUPID on their part not to branch off, and have something that will last longer than their show. You don’t want to just be known for throwing a drink in the club, or being witch with B.
Oddly enough, some of these women are making progress with their decision of how they want to be displayed to millions of viewers. With the introduction of new seasons of these shows, growth seems to be the focus. (Well for some)
Ultimately, the price of fame is up to the women. They can do as they please, because at the end of the day it’s their lives. Who are we? We’re just the ones that watch!