Why can't I stop watching 'Love and Hip-Hop'?
I mean, I realize why all the critics hate it, and I understand why I shouldn't like it either; but there's something about this show that keeps me tuning in season after season.
The fact that this show seamlessly blends the televised genres of the classic soap opera with the best celebrity gossip news casts, says something about the ingenuity of the people producing it.
I liken this show's effects on people to the time I first read an issue of 'wired' magazine; I thought wow, I've never been so informed and entertained by one magazine in my life.
Of course there's nothing that edifying about this show, but it terms of pure entertainment value, I have to admit it's got all the right stuff.
And coincidentally, I stopped reading 'wired' because its writing staff is comprised of a bunch of 'neo-liberal' white bigots.
But in an attempt to understand the show's magnetism, I thought I'd look into the backstory of it's executive producer, and see how her career and life reflect what I'm seeing on the show.
After Mona Scott's collegiate years, she took on a job as the manager of a graphic designer's firm in New York City.
One christmas holiday, she took a side job as a P.R. (public relations) rep. at Radio City Music Hall. This is where she says she got her first taste of interacting with celebrities.
While taking dancing classes at a studio called 'Broadway Dance Center', she came in contact with a woman's dance consortium called 'Duntori'. They did A&R (artist and repertoire, i.e. artist development) for a musical group called the 'A-team'; and liking Mona's skills, they hired her to help with the group's choreography.
Unbeknownst to Mona, the group was managed by a company called the 'Trackmasters'; and after assessing her multi-tasking skills, they approached Mona about coming aboard to help manage their group.
This is when Mona met the late Chris Lighty, being that he was a friend of the 'Trackmasters'.
After the 'Trackmasters' and Mona decided to part ways, she and Chris went on to form their own management company which they later named 'Violator' management.
At first, Mona was surprised at how comprehensive a job artist management was. She was at every meeting, she went on artist's tours, and she also styled 'Foxy Brown' for her first videos. She says she spent more time on the job than she did with her own family.
Mona says she recognized that as she built these artist's brands to the point where they were being called for spots on TV and certain sponsorships, that her artist's would turn to other managers who came in and took over; and she and Chris would be left out of those negotiations.
She and Chris then formulated a plan where they could maintain control of their artists at that phase of their careers.
This lead to a deal with the founder of a company called the 'Creative Artist's association'; and it was this connection that lead to a show starring Missy Elliott called 'Road to Stardom' for the 'UPN' network. This was one of the first shows dealing with artists showcasing their talents ala 'american Idol'. Mona said she liked the challenge of conceptualizing various elements of a TV show, and decided this is where she'd concentrate her future efforts.
Love and Hip-Hop's Yandy Smith, was a co-worker of Mona's at Violator. She had taken on the managing of rapper Jim Jones and bought him to Mona as a client of Violator management.
Jim Ackerman of VH1 wanted to build a show around Jim Jones at the time, but Jones was reluctant due to the fact that he had personal issues that made it hard for him to adapt to the 'reality show' format. Meaning, he couldn't stand being followed by cameras 24/7.
So instead of concentrating on Jones, Mona concentrated on the females surrounding him; like his mother and his woman friend Chrissy Lampkin.
And Mona noticed the popularity of reality TV shows that were more female-oriented, like the 'Real Housewives of...wherever'. And that's where the idea of 'Love and Hip-Hop' was born.
Now, with that said, the ingenuity of Mona Scott's rise to power should definitely be applauded...but here's why I'm going to stop watching Love and Hip-Hop.
This show's portrayal of black women has them looking like the embodiment of everything that's wrong with today's modern woman.
I mean, how many times have we seen these women physically fighting?
Beyond their being loud and profane, they're pulling out weaves, throwing drinks or any other pieces of furniture that might be handy, and being made to look like the she-demons of the world.
If I ever met Mona, I'd ask her, as a black woman, is this the way you want yourselves portrayed?
Now, I don't expect every black woman on TV to be Claire Huxtable (Bill Cosby's wife on the Cosby Show for those under 25), although it would be a nice change; but there are other, more urbane ways of showing black women having a problem with each other.
It doesn't always have to resort to weave-pulling slugfests.
And consciously or sub-consciously, the message this is sending to the world's men, is that we shouldn't want anything to do with a black woman.
And it's not just Mona who's in on this action, Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of 'Scandal', has Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope character literally having sex with the white male president in a closet...in a DAMN CLOSET!
Now, what are the world's men suppose to think of black women, when they're portraying themselves this way?
Personally, what I'd love to see...and I think a lot of other Black people would agree with me on this, is a reality show about a corporate executive like Mona, who's trying to get a series on the air about normal, everyday hardworking African-Americans, and the travails that person goes through trying to get a network to greenlight that project.
So, I've said all that to say this, I think it's time for the Black diaspora, myself included, to go to 'Love and Hip-Hop' rehab.
It's time we boycott these shows that portray us as sub-human, even if one of our own kind is at the helm of it's production.
I liken this show to a car wreck; in that even though it's hard not to slow down to see if we can get a glimpse of some gore, we all need to step on the gas and keep movin'.
And I can sincerely tell you, the next time I'm jonesin' for a hit of Love and Hip-Hop, regardless of how tempting it might be, I'm turning the channel.
And I know myself, and everyone who watches this crap show religiously, will be better off for doing the same.