MTV’s The Challenge: Battle of The Exes pits pairs of former couples against each other in competition. Emily and Ty are one such couple, and Emily (who is white) thought it would be fun to dress up to imitate Ty (who is black). Of course it wouldn’t have been sufficient to just put on his clothes and talk like him, she had to also smear chocolate sauce all over her face to really drive the message home. Watch the video here.
Emily’s actions were more stupid than the fact that shows like this still even come on, but my takeaway from the incident is one of confusion rather than boredom (I won’t lie to you and act like I’ve watched an MTV Real World-anything in the past ten years but I have to believe its contestants’ behavior means something).
Emily and Ty were in a relationship in the past and this is their third appearance on an MTV competition show together. These are people who definitely know each other. So how could that level of racial misunderstanding be latently present between them? Let’s set aside the fact that folks like Emily are still having a hard time accepting the near-universal offense that blackface causes — she’s a reality show contestant on MTV so we shouldn’t expect much of her when it comes to social consciousness. But shouldn’t this poor child have known that smearing chocolate on your face to imitate a black person is offensive even it’s only offensive to her black ex-boyfriend and partner?