I tried to watch Sorority Sisters, but I couldn’t finish the episode. If it were a singer, it would be Cassie, the first time she performed on 106 & Park. If it were a shoe, it’d be a knockoff Jordan that instantly melts as soon as the temperature hit 90 degrees. If it were food, it’d be spoiled Spam out of a dented can. It is terrible in every single away, but I do find the controversy surrounding it somewhat amusing.
On one level, between this show and Bye Felicia, it is now harder than ever to argue against the notion that VH1 is in the business of playing to the lowest common denominator, especially when it comes to its presentations of Black people. However, there’s something awfully annoying about some Black people now finding reason to rally against a show because it’s offering a less than pristine image of Black people who enjoy a certain amount of privilege by way of class, education, and the affiliations both can generate.
So while I don’t often agree with the idea of protesting a show —this includes Shawty Lo’s multiple baby mama themed escapades that was shut down and what’s presently happening to Sorority Sisters now (chopping off its corporate sponsorship, one company at a time) — I respect it. I do, however, wonder about the consistency of those complaining.
I watch VH1 programming without shame or guilt, opting to ignore anything that I find dreadful or too embarrassing, but I do agree with the sentiment that BET could never get away with airing many of the shows presently airing on VH1. For years, BET was slammed for late night, adult-orientated programming like Uncut and characters like the animated VJ Cita, who has since proven herself to be Tamar Braxton as a cartoon. BET changed its programming as a result, but very little public applause was given.
The same can be said of ratings for the shows that chronicled the lives of Black people in more “respectable” positions. This includes Black fire fighters in Compton (First In), Black male models (Model City), and the Black woman who owned her own magazine in Houston (Keeping Up With The Joneses). Some were ratings hits— Tiny & Toya, Toya: A Family Affair —but those were largely criticized, too, because the shows had too much twang and too little pedigree.
I prefer to see Black people the way I see everyone else on TV: brilliant, funny, and yes, a mess at times. We don’t have to agree on that, but only some of us are being honest about both our viewing habits and our complaints.
To those presently up in arms about a few members of organizations within the National Pan-Hellenic Council parading around as fools on VH1 primetime, ask yourselves a few things. Is your contempt of these sort of shows consistent?
If so, fair enough. If not, why is it a problem now? Can only your poorer, southern-based brethren play the fool? You know, despite the reality that white people who fancy themselves as “elite” who have appeared on reality TV to achieve the same goal as the women on Sorority Sisters: fame.
No, it’s not a pretty sight to see, but I hope none of us are operating from the space that only a certain sect of us should be shown this way. More importantly, I do hope those who fancy themselves as evolved and would like to see that reflected on television has at least bothered to try and watch the very shows presented now and in year’s past that tried to reveal such.
Because if one’s cries haven’t been consistent, they tend to sound less credible.