It used to be difficult for anyone who displayed any type of dysfunction at all to be successful, but not anymore in the age of buffoonery, self-centeredness and reality television. If you are a black woman who is dysfunctional, reality TV is, no doubt, the place for you.
I must be candid and admit that I have not seen too much of this, but where else can one be a “wife” when she is divorced, was never married or has no husband. Where else can a former stripper be called a “housewife” and parlay it into working for The Donald? Nowhere in the real world, but, for certain, on reality television. Yes, reality television, a never-never land of contrived events that would never manifest in the general public. Like a circus sideshow, 20 women under the age of 25 can vie to obtain the make-believe love of a 50-year-old hip-hop hype man with gold teeth or chase after some famous professional athlete, displaying groupie qualities while maintaining they are the epitome of womanhood.
From “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants Star Jones and NeNe Leakes to Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” and VH1’s “Basketball Wives,” there is not one presentation of what it means to be ladylike. In all cases, regardless if they are the ex-wives or the baby mamas of wealthy professional athletes, they parade around as if they cannot go anywhere without their weaves and acting as if the only word in their vocabularies is “b—-.” Even worse is the appearance that civil discord is impractical and that the only way to deal with a problem or conflict with others is to scream, curse and speak down to people with the might of all of their anger, giving the impression that violence is the only way to solve one’s problems. Even shows like Keyshia Cole’s promote dysfunction as if it is commonplace among African American women.
These shows are an abomination, and it is evident that the more destructive they are the more viewership they gain among young African American women. I used to think hip-hop videos were bad. Now, I’m torn between the two. I just wonder, will we ever see African American women portrayed as they really are — or used to be — in our community? This thought has me afraid that this may be what our women have actually become.
–torrance stephens, ph.d.