1.10.2005

Is Reality T.V. bad for Hip Hop ?



Forget about Hip Hop being mainstream, it’s nearly becoming the only stream.
It’s hard to tell where pop culture ends and Hip Hop influence begins.
The slang, the music, the attitude and the overall energy of our movement has been injected into commercials for Volvo, breakfast cereals and all types of madness.
A cartoon Colonel Sanders (who I think looks too much like a plantation owner, but maybe I’m buggin) even gets his thug thizzle on by rapping in a commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken. But you know what, all this is okay. Yeah, it’s alright that rappers sell deodorant, energy drinks (which they usually own) and cosmetics.
Like Jadakiss said ‘the industry is designed to keep the artist in debt’ so if they gotta play pitchmen to feed their kids then that’s okay. But when is it not okay?
Reality television shows have a lot in common with Hip Hop when you think about it.
Both were treated like the awkward stepchild by forms of media that they soon began to dominate. Virtually no one watches sitcoms anymore and the viewing public has such an insatiable appetite for reality T.V. shows that networks just slap any assortment of nonsense on film and then shove it straight into our living rooms. I’m sure theatre majors are all over the U.S. are pulling their hair out. It’s bad enough rappers take all the acting jobs, but now even most shows on the small screen feature characters that Joe and Sally Sixpack can relate to now more than ever before… Joe and Sally Sixpack themselves. Whether they’re getting a makeover, a new house, a chance at stardom, a dream job or a shot at meeting someone “special”; it’s obvious that Joe and Sally Sixpack love watching themselves on T.V.
However, V.H.1 threw us a curve. Noticing that average schmoes love watching themselves on television partly because of our society’s obsession with celebrities, this network decided to take has-been stars on their way back to becoming “average schmoes” and put them in reality T.V. shows of their own. “The Surreal Life” is a show that takes a handful of people who used to be household names (for one reason or another) and puts them under the same roof and waits for their eccentric personalities and individual weirdness to turn into T.V. magic. Okay, that’s no big right ? But when I started watching the second season of “The Surreal Life” I was astonished to see my boy Flavor Flav falling for the okie doke.
For the Hip Hop Generation, Flavor Flav is royalty.
Alongside Chuck D, Flavor Flav was the hype-man who defined hype-men.
You know the story. Peeps would say “well, why does that guy always wear a clock around his neck?” – BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHAT TIME IT IS, BOYEEE !
Public Enemy’s message of self-empowerment through knowledge would’ve been over most folks heads had they not stopped to see what the dude in the loud colors and crazy sunglasses was twitching for. Just think about his erratic movements, like some B-boy from outer space but he had a mic just like Chuck so obviously he needed to be heard.
Dude was mad important to the learning process of Hip Hop listeners around the globe.
So you can imagine the conflicted emotions I felt watching him run around with a brass Viking helmet chilling with former New Kids on the Block member Jordan Knight, and “Joey” from Full House. Even weirder was Flavor Flav’s love affair with a six-foot-two white woman named Brigitte Nielsen. The two slap each other one minute, and tongue each other down the next. Brigitte hardly wore any clothes on her 50+ yr. old body and although she fronted on Flav for being too eccentric at times she is at least as bizarre as he is on many levels. For those of you who watched this, you feel me.
It was entertaining at times, but something about it was just… wrong.
First season American Idol favorite, Ryan Starr, was also in The Surreal Life house and she made it very obvious that she just didn’t like Flav. On one incident she challenged his relevance in music and he had to put her in her place reminding her “I’m an icon, baby”.
Proclaiming many times that she hates R&B and Hip Hop, it came as no surprise that Ryan didn’t know who she was dealing with. As for Brigitte and Flavor Flav, their antics have earned them their very own show entitled “Strange Love” so more sloppy kisses and temper tantrums are on the way. The Surreal Life’s new season throws So So Def veteran Da Brat in a house with a bunch of yahoos and Biz Markie joins VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club to try and sweat off a few pounds while America watches. Maybe I’m being over-protective, but I wonder if mainstream America got a chance to know Da Brat or Biz Markie as artists in their respective heydays. Do the people at VH1 know these stars the way we know them or are they just important because they used to be important?
Perhaps they are more relevant to the masses as reality T.V. throwaways then they were as emcees. But then again, folks gotta eat and not many 90’s Hip Hop luminaries have sold many records lately so I can’t knock their hustle. I just hope that we don’t pimp so many rides that we forget how little else we control. I just hope that making the band can involve making the band work instead of making the band look like whining simpletons who argue more than they create. If you see me on some reality show ten years from now, you’ll know something went wrong.
Peace.

5 Comments:

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YO....Flava and Bridgette....the world is coming to an end...there comes a point in reality tv that the participants utlimately cross the line of REALITY and enter the realm of sensationalism. This is a love affair built for the MTV BOOB TUBE baby....its no more REAL than finding a dozen or so out of work actors/actresses/entertainers/etc trapped in a house together for as long as a veiwing audience can stand them.

the initial experiment known as THE REAL WORLD has ultimately turned on the viewer....before...viewers saw how people of other cultures really percieved each other....now they see "actors" trying to create situations they believe thier viewing audiences want to see.

 
At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

who will win the clock at the end?
Flavor should have kept goldie, and got rid of new york.

 

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