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Take one reality based TV show, add one 'angry black man', and stir.
August 2, 2000 5:02 AM   Subscribe

Take one reality based TV show, add one 'angry black man', and stir. Are reality based TV shows like "Survivor", "Big Brother" and "insert-the-name-of-any-Bunim-Murray-production-here" guilty of resorting to stereotypes when casting African American males? One critic seems to think so.
posted by likorish (6 comments total)

 
They're guilty of resorting to stereotypes across the board. It's part of what makes these shows successful. It's relatively easy for a new audience member to pick up on what's going on, but that's because the producers cater to the stereotypes and assumptions they assume most people have.

But there is a veil of truth to stereotypes, for better or for worse. Yes it lumps people into categories and is largely unfair, but when you only have a half hour to tell a story about seven people, a producer will do what they need to entertain.

Don't like it? Don't watch it. I personally stopped watching Real World with Season Five. Road Rules I haven't seen for years. Never have tuned in to Big Brother or Survivor. In fact, usually the tv is off.

But you want to see the alternative? Try Dot Com Guy. Nice idea, but it's like watching Colin Powell taking a siesta on a Saturday afternoon. Boring!
posted by ZachsMind at 8:17 AM on August 2, 2000


I tend to agree that this isn't necessarily conscious. It may be just one effect of having a token black on any show like this: the one minority has to deal with not only a range of strangers but a range of racial attitudes and without someone he's comfortable with .... for want of a better example, let's say a "whassup" dude ... he falls into this role.

There's also the unfair truth that many young black men do come up with a chip on their shoulder. I've often wondered what it must be like to have people cross the street to avoid you from age 13 or 14 up. I've seen a few of them, and I don't think it's white savage-jungle-whatever stereotypes that are automatically to blame.
posted by dhartung at 9:41 AM on August 2, 2000


Never have tuned in to Big Brother or Survivor

In order to drift the topic a bit, I thought I'd throw in here. There is a big difference between The Real World/Road Rules and Survivor/Big Brother. The RW/RR throw a bunch of people together to see how they react to each other over a period of time. But the participants aren't competing with each other.

Big Brother and Survivor are much more like extended game shows (especially Survivor) in that there is an element of skill, competitiveness, underhandedness, whatever. Because the participants are trying to not get kicked out. It's a big psychological game. In that way they are more interesting than RW/RR. That's not to say any of these programs are the ultimate in TV, or that Big Brother and Survivor aren't sometimes just as boring. But at least there's a built-in element of suspense.

I'll admit it though: While I don't go out of my way to watch, I do view these programs (not Road Rules, gag) when I'm bored at home with nothing else to do. So shoot me.
posted by daveadams at 10:46 AM on August 2, 2000


I've only seen one installment of Survivor and random episodes over the years of Real World, but I honestly find RW more interesting, if only because the drama unfolds across time, rather than in an artificially restricted fashion. You get the same "people will, in the end, act like the same stupid animals we humans never really stopped being" on RW, without the force factor of the competition to magnify it. Now, if Survivor had a cast member as handsome as Pedro Zamora, maybe I'd reconsider...
posted by m.polo at 11:04 AM on August 2, 2000


People get kicked off of Real World almost every season, don't they? I imagine the atmosphere in those houses must be extremely competitive, since the only reason people audition anymore is to get a shot at stardom -- everybody wants to be at the center of an interesting drama, and any kind of airtime is better than none.


posted by sudama at 2:38 PM on August 2, 2000


There's certainly nothing "real" about RW or RR. The producers openly admit they look for "types"to fill the shows with: there will always be the "gay" member. etc. And, of course, if you're not one of the Beautiful People, you can forget it, no matter how interesting you might be. Nobody like Richard from Survivor will ever get to be within 5 miles of a RW house.
posted by aaron at 10:44 PM on August 2, 2000


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