April 6th, 2008 09:32 EST
The New Mean Girls: Black Women on Reality TV
Backstabbers, ruthless, shallow and materialistic, rude, bad attitudes are all fitting words to describe the women of color on realty TV. Even on American Top Model, the black girl is usually the loudest and most overly domineering girl who picks fights over the most inane things. They are the ones making the seeming fragile white girl cry. BET`s College Hill, a show about a group of college educated young black people living together has their resident "angry black chick.` One episode things got so out of hand, a house mate injured the angry black chick in self-defense. The shoe incident became one the most highly rated episode that season.
Surprisingly, these are not a group of high school girls, but, rather, grown women. Equally disturbing is how these shows are highly rated among black audiences. We love to watch black women being mean and black women love acting mean, at least for realty TV.
Basically, they play into the stereotype of the sassy but strong black woman, " says Entertainment reporter, Miki Turner. Usually these women are the ones you don`t want to mess with or cross and they usually have attitude issues. Or they become cartoonish like Omarosa. "
Black girls with bad attitudes on realty is not such a new phenomenon. We all remember the first few seasons of Real World that had the resident "mean` black girl in the cast. Back then it was amusing to watch the other cast mates walk on eggshells around them. There was always one brave white soul willing to take them on, showing us their bark was bigger than their bite. Today, there seems to be a house full of them.
These young women are not dumb, they recognize the pay off of realty TV fame. There are many incentives for them to act this way, becoming a household name, instant celebrity or maybe your own reality show. The black woman with the bad attitude has become the breakout role. This character undoubtedly gets the most airtime and most of the show centers around her.
They have seen what it has done for Omarosa of the Apprentice and New York of Flavor of Love. These girls are vying for the covers of Smooth, King, and Black Men Magazine to display the ample physique that made them famous in the first place. The big booty centerfold or cameo in hip-hop videos are few of the many career options for these ladies. Either way, these women are getting their names and, hum, faces out there. In this climate you have to use whatever leverage you can, " continues Miki Turner. Besides, by 35 they`ll be yesterday`s news, so it`s better to strike while you`re young and able to put up with all the BS you`re going to go through to get where you want to be."
Note to all women of color currently vying for the winning spot on Flavor of Love: check out the resume of the last two winners. Still want the job?
Hollywood has never been an easy place for black women. It is understandable why they see it as a way to get their foot in the hard-to-open, proverbial show business door. There are very few paths to stardom for black women. Realty TV has opened up another avenue to fame. Still, one has to ask if realty shows go out their way to portray black women in this negative light. It`s obvious casting directors are going for a specific type, but why this particular type of black woman?
And while watching these shows, one has to ask why are so many women so willing to play out this stereotypical view of black women in America? The women seem to go out of their way to make fools of themselves. Telling people off at the slightest moment. Ready to fight over the most trivial issue. It`s as if they are all reading from the same black girl script and saying the same, She came at me the wrong way, " or You gonna respect me " lines.
There are few exceptions, like Jennifer Hudson who started out on a realty show. But she used realty TV to display her true assets of talent and charm, not her curvaceous figure. By showing she was more than just another Realty TV celebrity and working hard, she went on to win an Academy Award for her performance in Dream Girls.
What these women fail to recognize is that having true talent is the only real way to achieve lasting fame. It is easy to get notice by becoming an over-the-top caricature, but it is hard to break out of that role. And if you are banking all your fame on a body part, then that is even harder to overcome, just ask Pamela Lee Anderson.
Ladies, if the price of fame is so high you are willing to lose your dignity and self-respect, maybe it is time to go back to the nine to five. Now, that`s what real.