Monday, June 25, 2012

You Are What You Hate: Why Black Women Love to Hate Reality TV

Love to Hate. Interesting concept. A stark reality. With so much coverage on the net about the latest offering of docu-drama, pseudo-reality from Monami Entertainment, b.k.a Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta, the general consensus is that Black women have had enough. Enough of the trash. Enough of the violence. Enough of the misogynistic, hyper-sexual, static images of Black “Love”. But actions speak louder than words.

We all know that ratings are the real reality behind our TV. There would be no “Wives”, basketball, baseball, mob, Hollywood, hip-hop or otherwise if millions of young women weren’t glued to their tubes weekly to see regular women sit in local restaurants gossiping, arguing and fighting over issues that are typically regulated to high school cafeterias. Yet women across the country, many of whom are successful college graduates, entrepreneurs and mothers not only tune in, but regulate their schedules to take in the plight of the (former) entertainment spouses/mates. But why shouldn’t Black women be watching?

Entertainment is merely that. Amusement, enjoyment, attention garnering activity. And to be perfectly honest – these shows are designed to be just that. Vignettes of footage typically gathered over the course of a quarter, spliced and diced to the perfect succulent bite of junk food television. Furthermore, the greater issue is that many women can relate to the foolishness that preoccupies the Evelyn’s and Jennifer’s of the world. Consumed with being well-liked, well-dressed and well-perceived, the target audience is enthralled by the ridiculous escapades because at the end of the day art imitates life. Not completely but the love hate relationship that is reality TV thoroughly exposes that love and hate live in the same inverse emotional place. Women seem to be drawn to the elements of the show that resonate with innate desires – to be surround by their girlfriends, dressed to kill at the latest and greatest new hotspot or restaurant. But when the cattiness and garbage of the female relationship is put on blast– Hi Haters! But in all actuality, this intensifies the passion and connection that already exists for the show because in these moments of animal like rage, intense back-biting and generally ugly behavior is when viewers see themselves the most. The self that hopefully is restrained and kept in it’s proper place, but that part of self that exists nonetheless. And who can blame the Mona Scott-Young’s and Shaunie O’Neal’s of the world that have learned how to neatly package and sell a weekly, HD accessible mirror to young black women.

Despite the intense criticism and backlash, the fact still remains that until ratings are influenced there is no debate. Furthermore, until the association, whether repressed or ever-present, with the behavior and ideals presented on these shows are addressed and dealt with in real life, the “Wives” will continue to be a weekly installment in the lives of most young women. A guilty pleasure firmly planted in the non-descript place that is somewhere between love & hate.

twitter: mikeaustin414