What does “Love and Hip Hop” have in common with this year’s election? If you said nothing, then you, my friend, are correct. Well, to me anyway. According to many others in our community, if you find yourself tuned in to VH1′s epically bad, yet addicting, reality shows you are probably unaware of what is going in your community, national government, and world stage. I’ll give you a minute to side eye the hell out of that.
Excuse me, but I guess I was completely wrong for thinking that what a person considers entertainment/guilty pleasure in no way correlates to how active and productive they are in their community and political affairs. Yet, throughout the duration of the season of “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” and has now been replaced by “Basketball Wives LA,” tweets would filter into my otherwise peaceful and fun timeline chastising those who would tune in on Monday nights to laugh at Steebie J‘s rat face. My issue with this train of thought isn’t so much the fact that a person has mustered the audacity to attempt to wage forced influence on an adult’s choices; its more so that someone can be so high and mighty as to believe that there is no room for fun, or pardon my french — f***ery in life. That being concerned with the growing deportations of Africans in Israel, for example, is mutually exclusive and contingent upon me not losing myself in an hour of “As the Hood Turns (my little nickname for LHHATL).”
We should not feel the need to explain ourselves to a mentality that comes off so minute; to make people see reason with something so simple as enjoying a television program. But, such phony superior mentalities and arguments must be combated. It is simply preposterous to think you know someone and can define their tastes by every little thing they divulge in. Do I watch reality TV? Absolutely. But that doesn’t, in any shape or form, compose every inch of the woman I am.
I’m a former student of Political Science (who LOVES to read the Congressional Quarterly), and an active volunteer for President Obama’s reelection campaign. I am a woman who speaks two languages, and is sharpening her skills in a third. I am also a person who has served my country through a government program, and has based her career in extending educational resources for our children. But, I guess for some, all of that gets eclipsed by my love of reality soap operas. This air of superiority that some wade in blinds them to the fact that as complex creatures, we are capable of feeling more than one way at time, and can like things that don’t make us think too hard as much as we might follow political news channels and National Geographic specials. We are capable of immersing ourselves in work, and also in things that bring pleasure or a moment of ease and relaxation. Even if it comes in the most rachet of forms.
My watching reality shows does not mean I care any less about the disenfranchisement of voters in several states. What I do find peculiar is that those who hold themselves up to such standards usually are not as knowledgeable about the platforms they would like us to believe they’re protecting. “You so busy watching Joseline when you should be worried about the election.” That’s fantastic, but can you, my dear criticizer, name the point issues of the election, the key differences between the two parties, the accomplishments and unfinished work of the present administration, and the states that are suppressing voter rights? (Interestingly enough they usually can’t.)
There is a time for work and there is a time for play. No question about that. When it is time to get geared up about issues that are affecting our livelihood and our family and friends, I believe wholeheartedly that we should turn off the TVs and roll up our sleeves and get to work. But in order to be effective in our plans and our fights, we need periods of rest. We need to enjoy ourselves, have a couple of silly laughs, and be able to turn our brains off. And whether we are completely satisfied with it or not, reality TV helps many do just that. There is no way I could have aided over 100 adults in refocusing their lives in the past year if there was not something light to turn to and distract myself with at the end of the day; with such distractions including but not limited to good ole cheap television shows.
Blaming and shaming wins you no supporters. No one wants to side with a person who demeans them or judges them harshly. If you want supporters and team members for your cause, try a different route than bashing folks for enjoying the craziness that is reality TV. After all, you’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar….and judgmental tweets.