Gossiping for the Camera: Furthering stereotypes or just desirable work?

So, last night (April 1) was the premiere of VH1’s delicious, infectious, reality series The Gossip Game, a show that’s been ruffling more than a few feathers because it supposedly builds on negative stereotypes and bad behaviors of urban gossip bloggers that call themselves “journalists.”

This isn’t a prank article.

They are vulgar, slutty, greasy, and ignorant, and are all representing the hip-hop culture. The program follows the lives of seven young adults as they invite viewers into what they describe as the most desirable job in entertainment: gossip blogging. VH1 describes their behavior “over-the top and passionate,” adding that “there’s more to these women than who they gossip about.”

Well, not really. The dense and depraved group includes a former ‘put on blast expert’ who wrote a book detailing her personal sex exploits with dozens of hip-hop’s elite (considered a ‘boss thing’ in hip-hop culture), another who once boasted women who wear spanx is more desirable than women who are fit, and a former high profile international television journalist-turned-gossip expert for Russell Simmons’ entry into the gossip universe, Global Grind (the latter being the show’s only credible and logical cast member). All of the women celebrate their urban gossiping pedigree—something about being on top of the world in entertainment, unorthodox and slathered in makeup and too-small outfits.

No African American, and this includes the staff’s brothers, cousins, friends, neighbors, aunts, uncles, colleagues, (and me) can identify with the coarse idiocy of the individuals featured on the show.

Not that Blacks are aching to become another minority d’jour. Designating special classes of people does nothing to foster societal cohesiveness; quite the opposite, it creates hierarchies. Who’s in, who’s out; which group can’t be touched by public criticism, which can be mocked over and over again.

The Gossip Game Cast Member Jasfly (right) attempting to get the scoop from Recording Artist Bridget Kelly during an event
The Gossip Game Cast Member Jasfly (right) attempting to get the scoop from Recording Artist Bridget Kelly during an event
Let’s put it another way. Blacks, like being old or fat, are fair game for public derision. It gets worse: VH1’s show Basketball Wives filmed the antics of America’s best known wives and mistresses of hard working NBA athletes. Nuff said.

Where are the P.C. police when you need them?

Increasingly, reality television seeks out the grotesque, appealing to our salacious urges. Think of it as a 21st century circus freak show where crowds shuffle through dingy tents to gape in prurient fascination at anomalies of nature. Whereas P.T. Barnum featured fat ladies and midgets, reality TV features…fat ladies and former ‘weirdos’ in school turned confident weirdos.

Come on down, ladies and gentlemen.

Honestly, what is the value of E!’s dating-for-dummies series Burning Love or Bravo’s supposed lifestyle display Real Housewives of Atlanta other than chortle at their attempts of social acceptability?

Similarly, how can African Americans defend The Gossip Game?

“I think it’s a fun show. I’m really glad the show has a cast of strong professional black women thick in their skin,” one supporter (and friend of a cast member) said in a post on micro-blogging social site Twitter. “But I also will say that I hope they do a better job of representing African-Americans.”

Interesting response, don’t you think, coming from a person who is likely a colleague?

A “Sexy” Show? I think I’ll pass

Once upon a time, it was easy to tell viewers to simply switch the channel if they found a series offensive. That advice no longer works. Turn off the television? It’s streamed online; it’s sold on video; it’s on Facebook and Twitter and IN YOUR FACE just about everywhere.

Besides, it’s not okay to ignore a program that films a girl arguing with another girl because they work for rival radio stations, as happened in the first episode. That’s not sexy. That’s called classless.

So let’s call The Gossip Game what it truly is—VH1’s messy media ploy celebrating the hedonism, sexism and ethnic chauvinism of narcissistic minority women in urban culture.

All in the name of watching people who say they have the job we all wish we had. Right?