Why I still watch reality tv (or at least my rationalization).
It’s very common for anyone who visits me at my apartment to find me tuned into some unlikely TV programming. Well folks tend to think that I would be sitting and watching Eyes on the Prize and the Huey P Newton story on a loop, instead they find that I am still obsessed with reality TV. I can’t front, you’ll find me watching Project Runway, The Hills, The Real World (just kidding, that show is terrible), The Real Housewives of Orange County or something of that ilk. Recently a friend interviewed me about my media consumption habits and I had to verbalize what I like about the shows that I commonly watch. It’s always different when you say your thoughts aloud, maybe it’s nommo or that old testifying from church, but once it slipped out my lips, it became clear, kinda.
I usually watch reality TV for the gross displays of whiteness. I can’t resist it, it’s like watching a car crash on the side of the highway or rummaging through medicine cabinets. When you’re done doing what you’ve done you feel sorry that you did it and often feel like you’ve wasted your time. Well that’s not wholely the case. I realized that reality TV has given me access to the conspicuous consumption that is enjoyed by some sectors of society. I think it’s amazing/ridiculous that I can watch someone decide between an internship in Paris and spending the summer in Malibu with her boyfriend. With that said, I can’t stand shows like “The Fabulous Life” on VH1 (has anyone noticed it’s just a re-hashed Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous)which celebrates the material dimensions of privilege. I’m much more into watching Paris and Nicole struggle with understanding basic social functions. Okay, I know some of that is acting, but some of that stuff you can’t fake.
As a Black man in America, I can’t say I’ve had that many carefree days. Heck, it’s only 1pm and I’ve been thinking of where I have to go and how I’ll be received. As my homegirl once said to me, “Life must be really nice when you don’t have to worry about oppression.” Well, I think in a way, I get to see that otherside of the coin in “reality” tv, no matter how surreal it is.