We all know reality shows don’t always portray a positive image of women, but until recently fans had a few limited options: refuse to watch the show or complain. But after a recent petition to boycott Basketball Wives forced VH1 and the show’s creators to reexamine the fights, bickering, and negative portrayal of black women on the show, fans finally felt the power of their collective voice.
Now, just days after VH1 debuted yet another catty reality show, fans are exercising their rights to speak up. Recently a petition to boycott the show, Love in Hip Hop Atlanta hit the web and viewers are demanding VH1 “stop dealing crack and tell true stories.”
After we made a ruckus about Basketball Wives, sponsors began to pull ads. Well, it’s that time again, folks!
While we should respect the perceptions and experiences of the men and women featured on “reality” television shows, networks are airing stories that could be very helpful for people to hear, but they’re telling these stories in EXTREMELY dangerous ways.
We all know premium digital crack rock is ‘slanged’ in digital hoods other than VH1. We also know the problem is not just TV–it’s a big, mean, social monster that we’ve gotta shoot down one non-violent bullet at a time. Nevertheless, somebody’s gotta be the face of this lovely movement. And since VH1 has chosen to give us yet another beautifully-blinged jewel of commercial exploitation (Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta), they might as well be the face of change. By the way, shout out to all African Americans who received Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta as their Juneteenth gift! You won and lost at the same time!
As we work toward national- and local-level change, let’s tell VH1 and their sponsors (again) why people from a broad range of backgrounds will NOT stand for the exploitation of the lived experiences of people who may not even know they’re being exploited. This isn’t a “Black or White” thing, this is a HUMAN thing…and we should all understand.
P.S. That “turn of the TV/your kids’ TV if you don’t want to watch” argument doesn’t work here, VH1. A good number of the kids who are most at risk don’t have the luxury of living with parents who can just “turn off the TV”. Why? Because their parents are out working multiple jobs (thanks to this lovely thing called poverty); one or both parents are on drugs, dead, or in jail; or they’re raised by ill grandparents, relatives who aren’t that interested in their future, or foster parents who abuse them and only foster to collect a check.
While the petition to boycott Basketball Wives caught on, it’ll be interesting to see if VH1’s critics will be able to exert the same influence over the network and Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s creators.
*Read more about the petition on the Change.org website.