Culture TV — 15 January 2013
Shawty Lo and Baby Mamas Banished: One Down, How Many to Go?

I feel like Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars right now, bubbling over with intense gratitude.

**grasping imaginary Oscar**

Thank you, thank you, thank you, petition-wielders and protestors.

Because of your righteous indignation and clear-headed thinking, Oxygen was forced to smite a pop culture neutron bomb waiting to happen: an abysmal, stereotype-ridden reality” show featuring Shawty Lo and his dang near baker’s dozen worth of “baby mamas.”  The possible airing of this error of judgement loomed over us…for weeks and weeks.   But 35,000 signatures later, the reality show suits were finally forced to bend to the will of the people.  People who were sick and tired of watching the degradation of Black women and the buffoonery of Black men on the small screen in this endless onslaught of so called “real” TV.

I was so pleased with this too-long-in-coming outcome that I did a bit of a Zumba-inspired dance routine when I read the news on the Daily Beast.

But then I had to reflect on that jubilation.  That’s just one ugly, stubborn stereotype down, with so many more to go.

After all, not too many have demanded an end to the programming that isn’t far from the Shawty Lo show level of ratchosity.  Take, for example, the hair-snatching, wine flinging she-beasts of “Basketball Wives,” most of whom, by the way, have not a marriage license to their names.

Or flip on over to the newer kid on the block, “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” where a leering lothario known by millions as “Steebie J” flaunts his strippper-turned-recording artist in front of his once long-term girlfriend and mother of his child.

And lest we forget what begot these hot messes we can all hearken back to predecessors ranging from “Flavor of Love” to “Bad Girls Club.”

Though I’d love to believe the audience for this awfulness is a cultish clique of our society that somehow relates to these buffoons, it’s clearly mainstream fare.  In fact, I often see people I consider highly intelligent, sentient beings cataloging the doings of these ne’er do wells with  gleeful posts, and then trying to pardon their TV-watching transgressions with hashtags like: #dontjudgeme.

Clearly, we do need to start judging each other before we next dare to raise our voices in howls of protests when network executives push the envelope another notch.  After all, though these programmers aren’t blameless for their wanton exploitation, they are following the blueprint for the next big ratings smash.

The dearth of our positive images should be our own concern, as members of a minority group that do not get anywhere near fair representation in the media we so willfully consume.  As we furtively tune in, mouths ajar and eager to see what NeNe, Mama Dee, Kenya Moore and ‘nem will do next, just remember…  It’s a slippery slope leading straight back to Shawty Lo.







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