Everyone is familiar with the T.V. shows Basketball Wives and Love of Hip-Hop. I consider them the staple African American versions of “Real Housewives”. Stories about the lives of African-American women dating or involved with “superstars” in the black community, While I am not sure what the goal of “Love & Hip Hop” is, I know what the mission of Basketball Wives was supposed to be. When interviewed Shaunie O’Neil, ex-wife of Shaquille O’Neil, complained about the way black women were portrayed on television. Her initial vision for the show was to change these views through her show Basketball Wives. I don’t have to tell you how she failed…phenomenally.
I will not deny that these shows are entertaining. They consist of all the things that make television companies money. Beautiful women. Drama. The “good life”. However, I am beginning to question if these shows are worth the ratings and money they bring in. Not only are these companies exploiting these women, but these women are exploiting themselves. Instead of keeping private matters, they air arguments, fights, and discord among these women that seem perpetual. This exposition of personal lives can be viewed as a sell out, not only because of what I mentioned above but because of the stereotypes they insist upon. The watching world already sees the black community as unorganized, heavy with internal strife,and incapable to govern ourselves. And in the premiere of both these shows the participants of the shows prove these ideals right. They scream, rant, gossip, and fight as if the world is watching, half of it pursing their lips and shaking their head at their behavior.
The other half of the audience consists of young black women and men impressed upon by these shows. After exploiting themselves, they are also leading younger generation astray in many ways. In a community where a young woman’s self worth is already questioned, these shows do nothing to change that. At best they suggest that marrying into money or just dating men with money is your best way to a “better life”. In fact, most of these women are not married after years of relationships and children, sending out the message that this is not a problem. As long as they have money it is ok for marriage to not be an option, an already rampant problem in our community. And then with all this money, this supposed good living they get into knockout, drag down fights, tearing off clothes and actually hurting one another. Our communities already suffer from these issues and now it is harder to tell our younger generation they’ll grow above that.
Watching these women living sometimes financially secure lives with nothing else being secure, with glimpses of love and happiness on the show and more drama for ratings, leaves me questioning when will we grow up? Not only does it seem that there can’t be a group of honest, trusting African American females in the media but even with sacrifices we can’t seem to win. With Basketball Wives Shaunie O’Neil said, “I want to show us being loving girlfriends, mothers, and sisters..” Tell me where is that?