He say she say they all got beef, Draggin’ their business all over in the street, Bad thing is some of them think its cool, Talk show created the fool
The above line is from the song Talk Show Created The Fool on Chuck D’s solo album Autobiography of Mistachuck. That was 1996, when one of the biggest trends on TV were daytime talk shows. And with the popularity of hosts like Jerry Springer and Rikki Lake, most of these show followed suit and would have been come on and act crazy. Yelling, fighting, just generally acting ignorant, while the audience hooted and hollered like Romans watching Christians being fed to Lions. It was a disgusting spectacle of lowest common denominator “entertainment.” People would reveal affairs with their loved ones’ family members, or with their own family members, paternity scams would be revealed, and all sorts of other foolishness. We knew a lot of these guests were fake, which almost made it worse, because it meant people were willing to humiliate themselves on TV just for their proverbial 15 minutes of fame. And while people of all colors were guilty of these, it began to seem like Black folks in particular were dominating these shows (especially Maury’s paternity test episodes), and it was so sad to see that image of us being portrayed for the masses.
Well, eventually that trend mostly died out, but today you can take that Chuck D song and replace “Talk show” with Reality Show”, and the point of the song is still relevant. Reality shows have been around for a couple of decades, but I remember in the early days there used to be some kind of theme they’d give you, to make you want to watch. The Real World is was 7 young people from different walks of live forced to live and work together, and see how they get along. Road Rules was a similar premise, but they were traveling the country and also having to perform tasks to earn money. Shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race were about people competing to win prizes. Even a show like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s The Simple Life had an semi-interesting premise. Taking too spoiled rich girls and putting them in situations where they have to perform manual labor. But then, I think starting with the Kardashians, they started making shows that weren’t really about anything, the premise was just “let’s watch these rich people live their lives.” Let’s watching them eating at home, going shopping, etc. At least previously they’d do shows like that with families that were already famous, because a member had actually accomplished something. Like The Osbournes, Run’s House, and Gene Simmon’s Family Jewels. At least the father’s in those families were accomplished musicians. But now we’ve got shows like the various Real Housewives, where they take people that nobody has heard of before, but we’re supposed to watch them just because they’re rich. Then we started getting Basketball Wives, Rock Star Wives, and not even all of them are wives, they get ex-wives and baby mamas, and put them on the show.
And in the beginning some of them weren’t so bad. I actually watched the first couple of seasons of the original Real Housewives of Orange County, and then the first season of Real Housewives of Atlanta. But then it just became all about fighting. The women are all always gossiping about each other, talking behind each others backs, until it escalates to physical fights. And once again it seems like Black people, specifically Black women, are behaving the worst, and therefor getting the worst publicity. The other night I was up late, couldn’t sleep, I was flipping channels and, against my own better judgment, ending up watching a couple of episodes of this show Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta. Each show had two fights on it. One was two men, the other three were of women fighting. And, of course, the women are all fighting men. Men who don’t even seem worth fighting over. One show a couple is looking to buy a house together, the real estate agent was a woman, and at one point the women in the couple asks the real estate agent if she’d slept with the man, and when the agent said yes, the women just started hitting her, and had to be grabbed and held back by the TV camera crew. The 2nd one was a fight in a club.
And if you think this isn’t surprising because the people on this show are rappers, rap producers, and video vixens, well that doesn’t excuse the women on shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Married to Medicine. These are all supposed to be business-people and doctors and lawyers. Yet you see them fighting like same kind of cheap ghetto trash you see on those fight videos on WorldStarHipHop.com.
You’re at a Black-tie event, dressed in expensive evening gowns, and you’re going to start pulling each other’s hair?!? Pathetic! And it doesn’t seems to be ending any time soon. The more ratchet these people act, the more famous they become and their bigger rating these shows get. I just don’t understand it at all. I don’t know why “we” allow this to continue.
08/07/14 UPDATE: Another great post on this topic: We’re Making These People Famous by Jessica Ann Mitchell