by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
So who’s 50 Cent gonna start with beef next?
Maybe Donald Trump, if you believe the hype behind Fiddy’s new “Apprentice”-style show, 50 Cent: The Money And The Power.
The show’s blog crows that “unlike The Donald, Fiddy’s new show will NOT be putting the ‘Bored’ in ‘Boardroom.’” What it may lack in feigned decorum, The Money And The Power more than makes up for in people uttering variations of the phrase, “I’d do anything for $100,000.”
In the premiere, Fiddy and
minion crony hanger-on Dwight Schrute substitute labelmate Tony Yayo appear a little more hands-on than Trump, and more menacing than Diddy, sprinkling their monologues with criminal references. Yayo is identified as the show’s “Underboss,” and the premise is simple: “I’m not looking for an assistant,” Fiddy explains to the 14 contestants. What he is looking for, he says, is someone who can take his 100 grand and “make something out of nothing.” Naturally, their first mission is to get shot, then produce a critically-panned autobiographical movie.
Just kidding. Instead, after choosing the terminally smiley Joanne and the braided Ryan as “Bosses” for the first week, the two seven-member teams make their way from Roosevelt Island to “Camp Curtis,” the show’s compound in Brooklyn, bound together chain-gang style. And just like that, all these people formerly willing to “do anything” start complaining.
It doesn’t take long for tensions to rise. Not only do two members of Ryan’s team nearly come to blows during the mission (they manage to win regardless, earning themselves dinner with Fiddy), but two members of Joanne’s team get into it. And this is where we meet Precious.
Not to doubt the integrity of anyone who describes herself as a “master manipulator,” but the beauty school dropout landed herself on the brink of elimination by telling an Asian teammate to “go do [her] nails.” In the real world, businessman Curtis Jackson might have dismissed someone making these remarks on the spot. But, on reality television, host 50 Cent, shrewdly determining that racist remarks equal “good television,” keeps Precious (who he describes as “a poor man’s Lil’ Kim”) on the show, not before getting literally inches from her face and delivering an Alpha Dog staredown that would’ve made Tony Montana proud. Instead, for being a “wack” leader, Joanne is dispatched with a heartfelt “Get the f-ck outta here.” One can only expect ensuing episodes to showcase just as much workplace sensitivity.
For being what it is, The Money isn’t not entertaining, in the usual brain-on-neutral way these shows have become. It’s all there: the artificially-built tension; the utterly unsympathetic contestants; the Mr. Miyagi-esque team missions. And it’s funny watching Fiddy and Yayo give their Sun Tzu-meets-F-U pep talks to this latest bunch of schmucks. But it’s not edgy, it’s not “street,” it’s not new in the least, unless you’re just now old enough to watch television without parental supervision, or an unabashed Fiddy fanboy or fangirl. The premiere was titled “Choose Your Crew Wisely,” but really, the lesson was Know Your Demographic. And Fiddy shows business sense there, indeed.