Wednesday, May 7, 2014

TV Should Reflect EVERY Aspect of Us

With the popularity of ABC's Scandal and BET's Being Mary Jane with has been a lot of talk about by the negative images these women portray. In both shows the main female African-American [AA] characters are sleeping with married men.

Each time I hear people argue about if we should and how we could watch these particular shows that make Black woman look negative I feel torn. While I agree that AA women need more positive images on TV, I also think that semi-realistic portrayals have a place as well.

For every Claire Huxtable there should be a Olivia Pope. Black women are extremely varied and TV should reflect that. However, I will admit that I hate seeing how black woman are portrayed on "reality shows" like Real Housewives of Atlanta or Bad Girls Club. The buffoonery is ridiculous over-the-top and embarrassing, but it is also expected.  The truth is, I am more offended when Black women are shown in a negative light on unexpected shows like Project Runway or The Apprentice. 

I was recently watching American Dream Builders where designers compete to fix and design houses for families. One of the competitors, the only AA , was shown as rude, confrontational, annoying and catty. It irked me because I wanted to cheer for her because she looks like me. I was upset that on yet another reality show where we are completing with Caucasian counterparts our lone representative confirmed every negative stereotype about AA women. There was a whole episode that seemed to focus on her being mean and disrespectful with another cast member. While others (read: not Black) on the show had confrontations it was not shown to the level as the AA contestant. I call it the Omarosa effect. It makes for juicy television but it makes us look terrible. 

Now to address the cheating issue.  I've seen a bunch of meme's saying something about how can we cheer for a "side chick" like Mary Jane but we get mad when our men stray. Or that by watching these shows, we are feeding into the media portrayals that all AA women are whores and cheaters. My argument is that these shows are entertainment. I watch because I like a good story. That doesn't mean I support cheating, will cheat, encourage others to cheat or anything of the sort. By saying that by supporting these shows is an endorsement to cheat or have "side chicks" is like saying watching Dexter is an endorsement of murderers. It's not a valid argument. 

The crux of this problem is the lack of AA people in important decision making positions. People dislike Tyler Perry but he has the right idea. If we control all aspects of the television industry, we can control our own images. This is why I appreciate the YouTube community so much. YouTube channels such as Black and Sexy TV create fantastic content representing all aspects of AA life. Honestly their shows should be on cable TV. They are that good. They have a deal in the works with HBO I hope it doesn't water down their content but I plan on supporting. 

Overall, I am seeing better representation of AA's in film and television. We just need to remember to continue to support them with our views and money. 

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